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Top Five Studies on Classical Music and Health

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Earlier this month, the German transportation minister released his Adagio in the Automobile CD, a compilation of the slow movements of Mozart piano concertos. He hopes the album will reduce aggressive driving along the country’s autobahn. It can border on the silly, but classical music has been shown to lower stress, make people smarter and provide a homeopathic sleep aid. What other benefits are lurking out there? Here are our top five side effects.*

1. Lowering Blood Pressure

Looking for a calming experience? The most often cited benefit of listening to the three B's is stress relief. The soothing experience when you hear a masterful opus isn’t just imagined; a 2004 study out of the University of San Diego found that after hearing classical music, listeners had lower blood pressure. A 2008 article published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing also claimed pregnant women reduced levels of stress, anxiety and depression after listening to a 30-minute CD of classical hits.

2. Relieving Pain After Surgery

Reach for the Beethoven along with the Bayer aspirin. It turns out that melodious music can help tune out pain. A team out of Britain was able to reduce the amount of opiates given to people recovering from stomach surgery with a steady dosage of classical music. Another study in the Journal for Advanced Nursing showed that music could relieve chronic pain.

3. Making You More Emotional

Music may be the food of love, and a 2001 study out of Southern Methodist University seems to support Shakespeare’s claim. Researchers found that listening to classical music heightened the emotions in the study subjects. Not only were they more expressive and effusive with their comments, but they were more forthcoming as well. 

4. Making You Sleep

If you’re looking for better sleep, why not turn to Brahms? A Hungarian team showed that listening to 45 minutes of classical music before bedtime helped students from 19 to 28, who had problems falling asleep. The researchers suggest turning on the famous Lullaby or similar peaceful pieces, could be an effective way of battling insomnia.

5. Making You Smarter

And the Granddaddy of them all, the infamous Mozart Effect. When researchers in 1993 published studying drawing a link between listening to the maestro's music and heightened IQ scores, it spawned a cottage industry of brain-power boosting products (remember Baby Mozart?). However, later studies have shown that playing his works have lessened symptoms associated with epilepsy.

* WQXR is not a doctor. We only play one on the radio.