Music has a profound effect on our senses and on our mood. In this article, we take a look at how you can benefit from relaxation music, both at the spa and at home.
After a stressful day, many of us like to relax with our favourite music. Relaxation music works to reduce the heart rate and pulse and to lower our levels of stress hormones. In fact, it has been shown by Stanford University researchers that music can be as effective as medication when it comes to altering brain function. Think back to that relaxing massage, where the lilting music combined with the touch of the massage therapist helped to empty your mind of any worries.
Tip: Having trouble destressing? Try listening to nature-inspired sounds, such as rainfall or birdsong.
Research has suggested that music can help to reduce pain. This is due to the connection between music and both the central nervous system that controls brain function and heartbeat, and the limbic system, which controls emotions. A study conducted at Austria’s Salzburg State Hospital found that patients reported lower levels of pain when they listened to music and even needed lower dosages of pain medication.
Tip: Research also suggests that music can help with rehabilitation, so if you are recovering from an injury, try incorporating some relaxation music into your day.
A study published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies found that music therapy can improve sleep quality. This was true for people with chronic and acute sleep disorders. Music can help to quieten the brain and aid in letting go of any stresses of the day, resulting in more restful sleep. Again, it is the combination of the physical effects of music and the emotional response. It goes without saying that slow and mellow is best to induce sleep, so leave that heavy meal or thumping dance music for when you want to stay alert! The recommended speed is 60 to 80 beats per minute. A quick online search reveals that you can find songs in this range from such diverse artists as Chopin, Daft Punk, Britney Spears and The Flaming Lips! So, put your night-time ‘mix tape’ together and sleep tight!
Tip: If you want to fall asleep to music, forgo the music player on your smartphone. As well as the temptation to look at your phone when you should be at rest, the blue light emitted from these devices stimulates the brain.
It has been scientifically proven that our reaction to music can facilitate the release of the chemical messenger dopamine. Large amounts of dopamine are thought to increase feelings of pleasure. Dopamine release is associated with such stimuli as eating sweets and falling in love. However, a few years ago, researchers at Montreal’s McGill University found that dopamine release was up to 9% higher when listening to enjoyable music. So, the next time you need to relax, put on your favourite music and you’ll be feeling good in no time!
Tip: Listen to relaxation music at meal times to make the experience more pleasurable and also to slow down your eating, which can aid weight loss.
Given that it can help reduce stress and promote feelings of relaxation and wellbeing, it’s no co-incidence that at most spas you go to, soothing music is playing while you’re enjoying a relaxing massage or facial. As well as helping you to relax during a treatment, playing relaxation music at a spa can also:
At the other end of the spectrum, uplifting music, such as upbeat pop or driving rock, can help you to really supercharge your gym workout!
If you’d like to really destress, the Brooklands Hotel and Spa in Weybridge, Surrey features a meditation room with heated waterbeds.
Lorrens Ladies Spa in Torquay, Devon features a relaxation room with peaceful music and a calming ambience.
If you prefer live music to relaxation music, the InterContinental London - The 02 is adjacent to the popular concert venue!