Listening to Music

Imagine you’ve just gotten out of a stressful surgical procedure, and you’re now recovering in the hospital. What do you want more than anything? Just some peace and quiet, right?

Well, peace, yes. But quiet, not necessarily. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you’d love some good music!

Music therapy is a branch of research that’s growing in popularity, and some have suggested that music can be used in hospitals to help ease patients’ stress. To evaluate this claim, Turkish researcher Timothy Iyendo published a review in August, evaluating literature on this topic to see whether the evidence favors of using music in healthcare settings.

Looking at the research that’s been done on the topic, Iyendo found that playing soothing music in hospitals has been shown to do all of the following:

  • Lower patients’ stress levels
  • Lower patients’ blood pressure
  • Lower patients’ levels of post-operative trauma

In fact, music appears to be better suited to each of these three things than silence. Silence can make people calm, but music might make them even calmer!

Iyendo also found that other kinds of sounds can be positive for patients – and for nurses too. These include singing birds, gentle wind and ocean waves.

Putting all these findings together, Iyendo concluded that there’s an important difference between noise and sound in hospital settings. While the former should be minimized, the latter can be helpful for patients and even for nurses. Music and certain types of sounds can lower patients’ stress, allowing for a more pleasant hospital experience and potentially even improving outcomes.

In a way, then, silence is overrated. After all, if you’re in a stressful or even scary situation, being alone with your thoughts in a silent room isn’t always the route you want to go! So peace and quiet is all good, but there are times when peace and music may be better.

Image: FreeImages.com/Karl-Erik Bennion