Music can have some really profound effects on both the mind and body. Given how tightly linked and intertwined it is with our emotions, music can do everything from lift us up and give us more energy, to suppress our mood and even make us cry.
Anyone who appreciates music can use it to heal themselves in certain situations. Instead of turning to food, or television, or some other not-so-healthy form of distraction, try experimenting with listening to certain calming genres of music to relieve stress, promote sleep, and calm your busy mind.
Music can be used as an instant stress reliever. Research has shown that anything that has a slow tempo (about 60 beats per minute) is what helps the brain sync up the beat so that it produces “alpha brainwaves,” which are known to help reduce depression and boost creativity. In fact, music has even been described by researchers to work as well as medication at altering brain functioning.
If music is so effective for relieving stress, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it can help with sleep too. Findings from psychologist Dave Elliot suggest that the absolute most relaxing music to help people fall asleep has to be 90 beats per minute with a 4/4 beat, involving both piano and strings, and using narrow note sequences that fluctuate between highs and lows.
Traditionally, music wasn’t used in meditation. It was always done in silence or with whatever subtle background noises could be heard. These days, however, listening to music while meditating can help those who find that their minds tend to wander often or even drift off to sleep. Listening to calming music can be its own form of meditation just by consciously tuning in to the various sounds that make up the entire music listening experience.
Genres to Consider
So, what genres or artists should you listen to when you want to relieve stress, induce sleep, or help with meditation? Well, for starters, consider classical or ambient music with no lyrics. Anything calming that incorporates string instruments, drums, and flutes are ideal. Light jazz and easy listening music may even be appropriate while Native American, Celtic, and Indian music could also be good genre choices.
Besides browsing through the many free music apps there are available these days for mobile devices, you may want to also consider Rainy Mood, which is a free (and rather well known) website that simply plays a never ending track of rainy sound effects. The site makes it possible to listen to a mix of classical music and nature sounds like birds chirping, rain, thunderstorms, or ocean waves. Clicking the link labeled “Today’s Music” combines the sounds with calming music.
Brain.fm is another music service aimed at providing brain stimulating tracks that have been scientifically proven to help people relax and sleep (as well as enhance creativity and boost productivity). Although it’s a premium service that requires a bit of an investment to keep using after the trial period, it may be worth it if you want access to high-quality music specifically designed for healing relaxation.
So grab a pair of earbuds and tune in to some slow tempo, lyric free music. Your brain will thank you for it!