Scientists Find Optimal Time for Music to Make You Happy and Relaxed

For years, The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) has been studying beneficial effects of listening to music therapeutically.

The Music as Medicine Project has aimed to identify what type of music stimulates positive neural responses and how long people must listen before these responses are activated.

“Most people hear or actively listen to music every day and as humans we tend to change our playlists based on our moods,” explained neuroscientists at BAST. “Music psychologists have proven, time and time again, that music can have an effect on our health. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be great if we could prescribe music to help with certain mood states?”

They were able to attain these goals with Music as Medicine. The results are truly stunning.

In the pre-trial survey of 7,581 people involved in the project, 89% of participants considered music vital to their health and well-being.

BAST found that 13 minutes was the optimum listening time of music to relax. This type of music was distinguished by having a slow tempo and simple melodies without lyrics.

Manchester-based band Marconi Union was found to reduce anxiety by up to 65%.

“Our test subjects reported positive benefits including decreased muscle tension, negative thoughts disappearing, feeling peaceful and content and being able to sleep better,” the study reported.

Of the participants, 79% reported reduced muscle tension, 84% reported fewer negative thoughts, and 82% reported better sleep at night.

For people who prefer to dance to complete their cardio, less music is scientifically reported to bring greater power into your legs and create happy feelings in your mind.

After listening to fast, rhythm-driven music with a happy lyrical content for only 9 minutes, 89% of participants had increased energy levels, 65% laughed more and felt happier, and 82% felt more capable to take on anything or felt more in control of their lives.

Sadness is often a very personal experience. Unsurprisingly, people selected music with lyrical content they were able to relate to. Similar to listening for relaxation, 13 minutes was shown to be the optimal time listening for sadness.

“Listening to music for sadness caused our listeners to feel a sense of relief, be less overwhelmed, feel more stable and less likely to be triggered by things that reminded them of the issue,” scientists reported.

87% of participants felt more emotionally stable, 84% felt less overwhelmed, and a surprising 91% felt relief and release, while 84% said the music helped them come out of the other side of their sadness.

While the findings of this study seem like an interesting bonus to something many of us already do, it is helping music therapists and scientists develop therapeutic interventions.