Why Silence Is So Good For Your Brain
We live in a loud and distracting world, where silence is increasingly difficult to come by — and that may be negatively affecting our health.
In fact, a 2011 World Health Organization report called noise pollution a “modern plague,” concluding that “there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population.”
We’re constantly filling our ears with music, TV and radio news, podcasts and, of course, the multitude of sounds that we create nonstop in our own heads. Think about it: How many moments each day do you spend in total silence? The answer is probably very few.
As our internal and external environments become louder and louder, more people are beginning to seek out silence, whether through a practice of sitting quietly for 10 minutes every morning or heading off to a 10-day silent retreat.
Inspired to go find some peace and quiet? Here are four science-backed ways that silence is good for your brain — and how making time for it can make you feel less stressed, more focused and more creative.
1. Silence relieves stress and tension.
Florence Nightingale, the 19th century British nurse and social activist, once wrote that “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel absence of care that can be inflicted on sick or well.” Nightgale argued that needless sounds could cause distress, sleep loss and alarm for recovering patients.
It turns out that noise pollution has been found to lead to high blood pressure and heart attacks, as well as impairing hearing and overall health. Loud noises raise stress levels by activating the brain’s amygdala and causing the release of the stress hormone cortisol, according to research.