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Music and the Mind

Music has been used for centuries as a therapy and its power to heal is extensive throughout history. Physicians in ancient Arabic cultures had musicians working alongside them as they treated patients. The Greeks used music to treat certain mental illnesses. Musicians were also utilized to aid the healing of World War II soldiers who were dealing with physical and emotional trauma.

Every time we hear our favorite song, we get a rush of familiarity and pleasure and may even tap our toes or snap our fingers to the beat. We may even sing the tune as it plays! What we may not notice are the wonderful internal effects music can have on our health, well-being, and even our sleep cycles.

Energizing up-beat music can do us well in that it can:

          Elevate our heart rate

          Promote physical stamina and endurance

          Activate areas of the brain which are responsible for physical coordination, mental focus and attention, and creativity

          Trigger the release of hormones, including dopamine and adrenaline, that boost alertness

Many studies have also shown that listening to “happy” or up-beat tunes can stimulate creative and innovative thinking. The neat thing about music is that the choice is up to the individual. Whatever someone deems as “happy” music to them becomes their positive and energizing source.

Soothing and relaxing music can improve our sleep by:

          Slowing our breathing

          Lowering our heart rate

          Lowering our blood pressure

          Quieting our nervous system

          Easing muscle tension

          Reducing stress and anxiety

          Triggering the release of sleep-friendly hormones, including serotonin and oxytocin

          Reducing sleep-stifling hormones such as cortisol

What kind of music should you listen to for better rest? Slow beats tend to be best as our bodies naturally respond to fast rhythms. Try to choose songs with 60-80 beats per minute. Avoid songs with emotional triggers and pick songs without lyrics so your mind can rest as you listen.

If you are looking to try out some music for the mind, I highly encourage taking a listen to Binaural Beats. You can type  this into google and add on whatever mood or benefit you are wanting – for example, “Binaural Beats Sleep” is a good place to start. Here is the video link that usually pops up first. Try taking a listen to see if your sleep improves.





Janae Shillito, Community Relations Director for The Janae ShillitoKim Foundation,

Janae Shillito has been with The Kim Foundation since February 2017. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science and Masters of Science with her alma maters including the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, respectively. Janae’s love of volunteering and helping those without a voice created a strong desire to become a part of the non-profit world. She is the volunteer coordinator for The Kim Foundation and currently serves on the Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition, RESPECT Community Advisory Council, Nebraska School Mental Health Steering Committee, School Based Attendance Coalition, Systems of Care’s Social Media & Communications Work Team, Omaha Metro Hoarding Taskforce, and Nebraska’s Healthcare Network Access.