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4 SCIENTIFIC REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD TRY SOUND THERAPY

girl on sound therapy

If you have some favourite songs that you listen to get motivated for a workout, to dance to and lift your mood, or to help you process more challenging emotions, then you’ve already felt the power of sound.

T

he right music can help you enjoy a challenging workout, release pent up emotions, get in the mood for a party, and so much more. Sounds can also range from deeply calming to extremely agitating. Has your neighbour ever fired up the chainsaw early on a Sunday morning? Now, compare that experience to hearing the sound of water trickling over rocks in a stream while birds chirp in the surrounding forest.

Music and sound have been deeply rooted in many cultures throughout human history. While sound therapy is still considered an alternative to modern medicine, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that it’s not only effective but vital to our emotional and psychological health.

What is sound therapy?

By listening to music to help you feel good, you’re already practising a simple form of sound therapy on yourself. However, sound therapy goes much deeper than enjoying your favourite songs. 

A sound therapist uses their voice, musical instruments or other tools, like gongs, tuning forks, and singing bowls, to direct sound waves to your body’s energy field. These vibrations interact with your own subtle vibrations to restore balance on physical, psychological and energetic levels. 

Some of the benefits of sound therapy include:

  • Relaxation and lower stress levels
  • More balanced moods
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Improved sleep
  • Heightened awareness, clarity and balance
  • Reduced chronic pain 
  • Emotional and social development
  • Improved cognitive and motor functioning
  • Improved psychological and psychiatric health 
  • A stronger immune system 
  • Improved creativity

For many centuries, sound and music have been used to enhance our physical and emotional health; but what does modern science say about it? Let’s get into the 4 scientific reasons why you should try sound therapy!


1

The entire universe is in a state of vibration

The first scientific reason why you should try sound therapy is that the entire universe is in a constant state of vibration. Atoms vibrate against each other to form molecules, which have a vibrational wave that can be measured in units of hertz (Hz), the same unit we use to measure sound.

sound waves

Everything in the universe has a vibrational frequency, and this includes us! Every organ, cell, bone, tissue and liquid of the body has its own vibrational frequency, as does the electromagnetic field surrounding the body. Almost everything we experience is simply our perception of vibrational waves.

Most humans can hear frequencies from 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz, but that doesn’t mean vibrations outside of that range don't affect us. Physics demonstrates that when you have two vibrating entities next to each other, the stronger vibration will affect the weaker one. Eventually, they'll synchronise. With this in mind, something as mysterious as sound therapy begins to make so much logical sense.

2

We’re hardwired for sound and music

We usually think of music in terms of entertainment, expression, celebration, ceremony, leisure, connection and communication. What we don’t often realise is that all of these things are vital and healing to the human mind, body and spirit. Music was never invented or discovered; it’s innate in all of us.

girl on the couch listening to music

Music has been present in all cultures; we can process it as infants; there are specialised areas of the brain dedicated to it. It’s clear that music is hardwired in the human brain. On a biological level, listening to music floods your brain with dopamine, the neurotransmitter for motivation and reward, as well as oxytocin, a natural pain killer and hormone that allows you to bond with others. 

Music is scientifically proven to assist with language development, improve communication, increase IQ, and improve memory, as well as prevent and treat conditions like Alzheimer’s. We can all find meaning (and therefore, healing) in music, so it’s no surprise that sound therapy has been used to cure many ailments throughout human history.

3

Our ears are connected to the vagus nerve

Neurons in the brain vibrate at different frequencies based on the data they receive from our internal and external worlds, and these vibrations influence every cell throughout the body. When sound waves reach the brain, many different biological responses can be triggered, which have the power to alter our emotions, releases hormones, and put our minds and bodies into certain states.

girl on sound therapy

Sound therapy promotes physical and psychological healing by putting your body into the parasympathetic state. Also known as the ‘rest and digest’ part of the nervous system, it's the state in which our bodies naturally repair and heal; the opposite of ‘fight or flight.’ This state improves the immune system, lowers cortisol, lowers blood pressure, keeps you more alert during the day, and helps you sleep deeper at night

The vagus nerve controls the parasympathetic nervous system and extends from the brain stem down to the colon and branches out to the heart, lungs, stomach and intestines. The vestibulocochlear nerve in the ear connects to the vagus nerve; a little branch of the vagus nerve goes right to the tympanic membrane, which vibrates in response to sound waves. 

Every sound you hear sends information to the vagus nerve, which will either switch the parasympathetic nervous system on or off. In other words, the sounds you hear impact your hormone release, digestion, blood sugar levels, inflammation, heart rate, blood pressure, and more.

4

Sound therapy ‘hacks’ your brainwaves to promote healing

Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours come from the electrochemical communication between neurons in the brain. Masses of neurons interact with one another, creating the synchronised electrical pulses that generate our brain waves. There are 5 different types of brain waves that form the spectrum of human consciousness:

  • Beta waves (12.5 to 30 Hz): the fast brainwaves that dominate our normal waking state of consciousness when attention is directed towards the outside world, cognitive tasks, and engaging conversation.
  • Delta waves (.5 to 3 Hz): These are the slow, loud brainwaves generated in deep meditation and deep, dreamless sleep. These brainwaves stimulate physical healing and regeneration.
  • Gamma waves (25 to 100 Hz): these are the fastest brain waves, which are associated with higher states of conscious perception and spiritual enlightenment. Interestingly, this frequency is too high to have been generated by neurons firing.
  • Theta waves (3.5 to 7.5 Hz): these waves are associated with daydreaming, meditation and REM sleep. Our gateway to learning, memory, and intuition, theta waves create a state where ideas and creativity flow.
  • Alpha waves (8 to 12 Hz): a state of mental rest and quietly flowing thoughts, alpha is ‘the power of now.’ Associated with being present in the moment, alpha waves aid overall mental coordination, calmness, alertness, mind-body integration and learning.

Sound therapy uses different frequencies to hack your brainwaves and promote healing. By using specific rhythms and pitch frequencies, you can downshift your brain from the everyday beta state of consciousness, down to the more relaxed theta state, and then into the delta state where deep internal healing takes place.

tools for sound therapy

You may have heard of binaural beats, which is an easily accessible type of sound therapy that plays two slightly different frequencies into each ear at the same time. By creating an auditory illusion, binaural beats cause our brainwaves to synchronise to the tiny difference in hertz. 

Depending on the size of this difference in frequency, binaural beats can lead us to deep relaxation, focused concentration, healing and happiness. Alpha waves, for example, increase serotonin production to stimulate creativity and minimise depression.

 

The frequencies of optimum health

Our bodies have energetic frequencies that can go ‘off-key’ when we don’t resonate with some aspect of our environment or experience. Just as harmony promotes health and healing, our internal dissonance can lead to illness. The premise of sound therapy is that our energetic frequencies can be re-tuned by carefully chosen sonic frequencies. 

By restoring the normal and healthy vibrational frequencies of our cells, sound therapy can guide us into profound states of relaxation. Sound therapy can help us achieve deep sleep and parasympathetic states where our bodies can repair, regenerate, and come back to a place of health and happiness. 

Sound therapy still requires further research before we can fully understand how and why it works. However, there is certainly sufficient scientific evidence to make this ancient healing modality worth a shot!

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