– Herman Melville
Noise pollution is considered a “modern plague” according to a 2011 World Health Organization (WHO) report. “There is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population.”
How many moments each day do you spend in total silence? If your honest, it’s very few. Modern society is loud, noisy, artificial and hurting you. Is this a good enough reason to seek out silence, taking 10 minutes out of your day to sit quietly and create an internal retreat for your mind? Most likely not!
Here are four science based ways that silence is good for your brain. If you calm the mind not only will you feel less stress, more creative and focused, you will also be in a better position to make more appropriate lifestyle choices. Who wouldn’t benefit from that?
Silence can Regenerate Brain Cells – A 2013 study on mice, published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function compared the effects of ambient noise, including white noise, pup calls and silence on the rodents’ brains. While silence was planned to be the control, they found that two hours daily led to new cells in the hippocampus, a brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion.
Silence Replenishes Mental Resources – Everyday we are bombarded with sensory inputs. When we can get away from this disruption our brains’ attention centers have the opportunity to restore themselves. The demands of modern life puts a significant burden on the prefrontal cortex which is involved in high-order thinking, decision-making and problem-solving. Our resources and reserves get drained as any other gland, organ or system would when under chronic stress. When we place ourselves in an environment of low levels of sensory input, the brain begins restoring its finite cognitive resources.
Silence Relieves Stress and Tension – Noise pollution has been found to lead to high blood pressure and heart attacks as well as impaired hearing. Loud noises raise stress levels by activating the amygdala and causing the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Overwhelm the adrenals and not only does your ability to resolve and adapt to stress decrease, but resulting hormone imbalances have been correlated with metabolic disturbances throughout the body.
Just as too much noise can cause stress and tension, silence has the opposite effect. A 2006 study in the journal Heart found two minutes of silence to be more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music, based on changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.
Tap into the Brain’s Default Mode Network – The default mode network of the brain is activated when we engage in “self-generated cognition,” such as daydreaming, meditation or just letting your mind wander. When the brain is idle and disengaged from external stimuli, we can tap into our inner stream of thoughts, emotions, memories and ideas. It helps us make meaning out of experiences, empathize with others, be more creative and reflect on our own mental and emotional state.
To do this, you have to break free from the distractions that keep us lingering in the shallows of our mind. Silence is one way to get there.
Considering the benefits of silence, what possible reason(s) would you have NOT to find silence! You deserve to look and feel your best and here is one more tool to add to your toolbox of health building!