What do you do to relax? Many people enjoy settling down with some of their favorite tunes. It turns out that some types of music are better than others for relaxation. A variety of studies demonstrate that classical music can help people relax, sleep, and learn.
Music for Relaxation
Evidence suggests that classical music affects the body in several ways. Two studies show that classical music can reduce blood pressure. The first study, from the University of San Diego, found that classical music is a unique genre when it comes to reducing stress. Listening to classical music, unlike listening to jazz, pop, or no music, was associated with lower systolic blood pressure. The second study, from the Duke Cancer Institute, asked men undergoing a biopsy to listen to Bach concertos during the procedure. The men’s diastolic blood pressure stayed level during their biopsy and the men who listened to Bach reported less pain than other participants.
Listeners can even benefit from classical music without paying attention. A study published in the journal Human Physiology found brain changes in children who listened to classical music daily for an hour over a six-month period. Their brain patterns were indicative of greater relaxation. The children benefited from classical music even though they had not been asked to pay attention to it.
A University of Toronto study discovered that listening to classical music at bedtime can make people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Music from the likes of Brahms, Handel, and Mozart slowed brainwaves, hastening the arrival of sleep.
Music for Learning
The benefits of classical music surpass physiological functions. Research published in the journal Learning and Individual Differences evaluated how well students performed on a quiz after a one-hour lecture. Some students listened to the lecture while classical music played in the background, but other students listened to only the lecture. Students whose lecture was accompanied by classical music performed better on a quiz of the lecture’s contents. The researchers posit that classical music may have put the students in a more emotional state, which made them more receptive to information and more motivated to focus on the lecture.
Music for You
Classical music is a large genre—which pieces offer the greatest benefits? To relax, sleep, or study, experts recommend listening to pieces that are relatively restrained, compared to wide-ranging, bombastic compositions.
Solo piano, guitar, or lute pieces may be good choices for people looking to relax with classical music. Try listening to composers like Poulenc, Debussy, Bach, and others to benefit from classical music.
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