Listening to music can aid relaxation in many ways and can improve vital functions within the body, which may be hindering overall well-being. Alongside the well-known benefits like elevating ones mood and reducing anxiety, scientific studies have shown it can also decrease muscle tension and blood pressure.
As we listen to music, our bodies release endorphins which are natural pain relievers. The music also acts as a distractor and the slow beat calms down the heart beat and breathing.
Adrian C. North and David J. Hargreaves show a considerable amount research highlighting how music affects our behaviour in very deep and sophisticated ways.
Child stress is on the increase and 1 in 5 children have some sort of mental health problems including anxiety and behavioural issues. Listening to music on a regular basis can help children manage stress and anxiety while improving their concentration, focus and listening skills.
There is also a wealth of information regarding the frequencies we have used on this cd at www.omega432.com
Research here shows the effect of sound visually known as “cymatics”. To see this fascinating sight for yourself, search for “chladni patterns” on youtube.
The music on “Night & Day” has been tailored to fit in with a routine of promoting a good night’s sleep and a wake up routine which will leave children (and you) feeling energized and optimistic about the day ahead.
The 30 minute bedtime routine track is recorded using frequencies within the instrumentation and voice which may slow down brain activity. These frequencies are not currently being used in any other children’s music and may have the effect of slowing the brainwaves down. This will be more profound in some children than others. The music still has all the qualities of any relaxing music known to combat sleep issues by calming down the nervous system, slowing the heartbeat and creating a safe and secure atmosphere. As the breathing slows down, the muscles relax in preparation for sleep. Playing relaxing music at night time will help children calm down and release the stresses or excitement of the day.
The wake-up track can be used as a wake-up alarm if needs be or it can be on just in the background as you go about the morning routine. The piano is tuned to a fundamental frequency found all around in nature known to have an effect on our memory and general perception. This track can be played at any time in the day as it is not “relaxation” music as such. It is uplifting music and can evoke positive and optimistic feelings as endorphins are released boosting the immune systems and decreasing cortisol in the body. It can also stimulate the imagination encouraging self expression and self confidence.
The use of music to promote the health and wellbeing of children
Perhaps the most striking example of the power of music to impact on health comes from research on babies born prematurely. In comparison with groups not provided with background music, exposed groups gain weight, increase food intake and reduce their length of stay in hospital (e.g. Cassidy and Standley, 1995). These effects seem to be maintained across a range of variables including the gestational age of the infant, the volume of the music (within certain parameters), the means of delivery (in a free field or through earphones) and the birth weight of the infant (Standley, 2002). Music also contributes to improving the occurrence of quiet sleep states, reduces the extent of crying and lowers mother anxiety. Improvement seems to occur on a daily basis indicating a cumulative effect (Lai et al., 2006).
If music is played by adults in the home, children may be passive recipients of it. This can lead to marked changes in their behaviour. Several studies have shown that children of elementary school age exhibit increased activity levels when exposed to music (Furman, 1978) and that fast exciting music has the most dramatic effect which can be detrimental to good behaviour (Reiber, 1965; Ferguson et al., 1994; Hallam and Godwin, 2000). These effects seem to be particularly powerful in children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Relaxing quiet background music can improve behaviour and on-task performance in these children (e.g. Jackson and Owens, 1999; Hallam and Price, 1998) and induces physiological changes including reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate and temperature (Savan 1999).
Use of music to reduce anxiety and increase well-being
A frequent use of background music in public places, by organisations and individuals is to manipulate arousal levels and moods. In a review of music’s use in hospitals, Standley (1995) identified reducing pain, anxiety or stress; enhancing the effects of anaesthetic /analgesic drugs or reducing their usage; and reducing the length of hospitalisation as the most common applications. Music was found to have a favourable impact on almost all of the medically –related conditions studied with children responding more positively than adults and infants and females more positively than males. Interestingly, behavioural and physiological measures tended to present more positive outcomes than patients’ self-reports.
Calming background music has been shown to have a direct impact on biological indicators of stress such as cortisol (e.g. Flaten et al. 2006) and blood pressure (e.g. Triller et al. 2006), in addition to perceived anxiety (Pelletier 2004), although the level of effectiveness depends on the type of stress, age, the way the music is used, musical preferences, and prior level of musical experience. Numerous studies have indicated that music can help to alleviate stress in patients waiting for treatment. For example, Cooke et al. (2005) found that listening to selected preferred music during the pre-operative wait reduced anxiety in day surgery patients. Music can also be effective during some treatments. For instance, children having casts fitted showed less increase in heart rate compared with controls when music was playing (Liu et al. 2007). Similarly, anxiety relating to dental treatment can be reduced through background music (Bare and Dundes 2004). It can also assist in promoting relaxation to aid recovery. For instance, there is a greater impact on reduction in heart rate, respiratory rate, myocardial oxygen demand and anxiety following heart attacks when music is played in the recovery environment and these effects are maintained over a longer period of time (White 1999).
Older people report that music reduces anxiety and stress levels, increasing thresholds for pain endurance, reducing recovery and shortening convalescent periods after surgical procedures. While active music making plays a crucial role, listening to recorded music is also important providing ‘inner happiness, inner contentment and inner peace’ (Hays and Minichiello 2005).
Background music can also contribute to alleviating anxiety in pregnancy (e.g. Yang et al. 2009) and stress in childbirth (for a review see McKinney 1990). Music selected to be played by the mother can assist in cuing rhythmic breathing and relaxation, prompt positive associations, and help focus attention on the music as a diversion from pain and hospital sounds (e.g. Hanser et al.1983), although not all mothers find this use of music appealing (Sammons 1984).
Although research is at an early stage, the ability of music to lower stress and increase feelings of well-being seems to be related to improved immune system functioning as measured by levels of salivary immunoglobulin A, an indicator of the ability of the respiratory system to fight off infection. While the most positive effects are related to live music, there is evidence that background music can also have an impact (Charnetski and Brennan 1998).
Given the capacity of music to induce relaxation it is not surprising that it has been shown to be able to induce and improve the quality of sleep. Playing relaxing background music for 45 minutes at the sleep times of 5th graders improved its quality (Tan 2004), while women with sleep disorders over the age of 70 showed decreased time to the onset of sleep, decreases in the number of night time disturbances and improvement in the subjective experience of sleep (Johnson 2003). These findings are supported by a recent meta-analysis of the impact of music-assisted relaxation for sleep in adults and elders with and without sleep problems (deNiet et al. 2009). These findings seem to generalize across cultures (e.g. Deshmukh et al. 2009).