Anyone looking for music to relax by can try "Weightless”. The instrumental piece lasts eight minutes and is said to put listeners into a trance-like state. And because the sounds lead to feelings of heaviness and drowsiness, it is strongly recommended not to listen to it while driving. A bold but empty statement? Who knows, but the effect has been scientifically tested in England – albeit only on forty people.
The subjects were asked to solve tasks under time pressure, which put them under stress. Afterwards they were played various songs, including tracks by Adele, Coldplay, Enya and Mozart. "Weightless", composed especially for relaxation purposes, best managed to slow down the subjects' heart rate and breathing, as well as lower their blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Since then, the piece has led a hit list of the best relaxation tracks of all time.
Pop or classic: no difference
It would be wrong to conclude, however, that everyone is guaranteed to benefit. Music always has a relaxing influence when specifically used for this purpose – other studies have proven this, and it makes no difference whether the music is classical, pop, traditional hits or spherical sounds.
It's the music we like best that apparently has the most positive effect on our well-being. And we can use the music of our own personal choice to not only relax, but also to get us moving, or to create a happy or melancholic mood.
The exact same piece of music often triggers the most diverse emotions in different people, depending on the memories attached to it or the mood we are in at that moment.
Which hormones are released when we listen to music?
Various brain regions are activated when we listen to music. This includes the limbic system, which is responsible for our emotions. The reward system is also involved, releasing endorphins, the happy hormones, which explains why music can have a similar effect to sports, chocolate or sex.
Dopamine is also released, which gives us drive. Making music or going to a concert with others also boosts the production of oxytocin, a binding hormone that boosts trust and affection between people.