Music is a pastime, a tool to bring people together, a symbol, but music can also become a cure for states such as anxiety and insomnia. On the other hand, if not used correctly, music can also become harmful to the brain. In recent months, various scientific researches have deepened the action of music on the body and brain, also bringing to light some unexpected points. But let's understand better.
Music against anxiety and insomnia
Music is undoubtedly a useful tool to combat anxiety and insomnia. As emerges from some recent studies (Kakar et al, BMJ Opne, 2021), the sounds of nature such as the wind, the ocean and the chirping of birds can improve the quality of sleep, favoring a rest without interruption, if not even increasing the time spent in bed asleep. The same effects were observed with music not sung but played with instruments such as the piano. Relaxing music made it possible to extend the duration of deep sleep, which is the phase of sleep in which the brain repairs and regenerates itself, muscles and bones are formed and the immune system is strengthened. But the benefits of music also come when music is actively played. In fact, a research (Galal et al, Pharmacy, 2021) studied the state of anxiety in university students before and after treatment, which consisted of listening to or playing music. Well, in both cases the state of anxiety was significantly attenuated. It is important to point out that the benefits of music have been found in people under great stress, such as students or hospitalized people awaiting surgery.
Music that is too loud is harmful to the brain
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, however, in some cases music can be harmful. A research (Semyachkina-Glushkovskaya et al, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2020) observed that listening to loud rock music, with peaks that can reach and exceed the considered safe threshold of 100db, led to a temporary opening of the brain blood barrier. This barrier protects the brain from viruses, bacteria and toxins, so opening it exposes the brain to risk. This harmful effect of music listened to at high volume was observed even one hour after the event. The explanation is that music at an excessive volume creates a state of stress in the brain which is thus weaker and less protected from external threats.