We live in a loud and distracting world, and that may be negatively affecting our health. In our ever-connected modern world, silence has become a seemingly rare commodity. Think about it, when was the last time you sat in actual, total silence? We live in environments where we don’t even notice all the noise we’re subjected to 24/7. Silence has become something unusual, even uncomfortable to many of us. We listen to podcasts while exercising and play music while we shower. We are constantly accompanied by background noise wherever we go.
Research from the World Health Organization and European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has linked noise pollution to increased stress, heart disease, sleep loss, high blood pressure, decreased motivation, increased error-making, and lower performance at work and school.
In the mid-20th century, epidemiologists discovered a link between hypertension and chronic exposure to noise such as that from highways and airports. Later research has linked noise to sleep loss and heart disease.
When noise is heard, the brain has an immediate reaction even while asleep. This prompts an immediate release of stress hormones like cortisol. People who live in consistently loud environments often experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones, and it’s important to be able to get away from all of that commotion. Here are 4 ways silence can benefit your mind and body:
- Lower Blood Pressure: Silence relaxes your body and brain more than listening to music, resulting in a lowering of blood pressure and increased blood flow to the brain.
- Improved Sleep: Periods of silence throughout the day enhance sleep and reduce insomnia. We have all heard advice about ‘slowing down’ before bed, but few of us actually apply it in our own lives.
- Brain Growth: Silence has been found to stimulate brain growth. In 2013 a study into brain structure and function found that a minimum of 2 hours of silence could result in the creation of new brain cells in the area of our brains linked to learning and recall.
- Increased Focus: This seems pretty obvious but how many of us try to finish a report surrounded by noise and/or colleagues, and how many youngsters insist on listening to music while they study? Numerous studies have proven that this is unhelpful.
There’s much more to discover about the benefits of silence, but in an increasingly noisy world, there’s already plenty of evidence to support making space in our lives for silence. Try spending some time each day sitting in complete silence. Even as little as five minutes a day can make a big difference!
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