Almost all of us have experienced the incredible power of music to affect our behavior. Runners rely on their favorite jam to get them up that last hill. Partiers pump themselves up for a night out with their 'getting ready' playlist. Office warriors tackle difficult tasks with the help of their favorite productivity-boosting tracks. And what would a romantic night out be like if it was conducted in silence?
Still, despite the obvious ability of music to shape our mood and mold our behavior, many of us spend many of our hours in a quiet house. What would happen if you made a conscious effort to add more music to your time at home?
Smart speaker manufacturer Sonos, Apple Music, and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music, recently teamed up to find out. Though two of these three clearly has an interest in promoting the positive effects of a music-filled life, the study design makes it intriguing nonetheless.
To find out what happens when you add a soundtrack to your life, the researchers both conducted a survey of 30,000 listeners about how music affects them and installed a top-of-the line sound system in 30 homes around the world. For one week these 30 families were told to listen to no music out loud. The next week, they were given free rein to play what they pleased while the team carefully observed what happened.
If you're too shy to blast your guilty pleasure playlist at home, the study offers reason to get over your inhibitions and release your inner karaoke star, "Those who listen to music out loud the most are actually 11 percent happier than those who don't," it found. When the music is on, people also claim to feel 12 percent less jittery and 24 percent less irritable.
Home with more music are also homes with more laughter -- those families that had the tunes on the most were 15 percent more likely to laugh together. "Listening to music out loud together modulates levels of serotonin, a feel-good hormone in the brain," Levitin comments.
No one can make doing the laundry a bumping good time, but music can make it better -- by far. 80 percent of survey respondents said chores are easier when there is music playing, while 59 percent claimed to enjoy cleaning more with their favorite tunes.
And it's not just housework that's better with music. One-third of survey respondents said their work was less painful when paired with their favorite playlist. They also claimed to be 25 percent more inspired when listening to tunes.
Even more love
Possibly most exciting is how music affected relationships in the households studied. Families with more music in their lives ate together more, talked more, and even were 12 percent more physically close than those in quieter homes. "Families who listen to music out loud eat an average of 5.6 meals together per week--nearly one full meal more than households with no music (who average 4.8)," the study found. 58 percent of survey respondents even claimed that music makes their food taste better.
Not only did families eat together more often, but they also lingered longer over meals, presumably talking and bonding. Music-filled "households averaged a 160 percent increase in time spent together in the dining rooms," reports the study.
The effects of more music aren't limited to the dining room. Apparently, the right soundtrack matters in the bedroom too. "Couples that listen to music out loud reported that they have 67 percent more sex than their non-music listening counterparts," according to the findings.
All of this is evidence of the power of music to bring us together. "Music helps to create tighter social bonds. People who play music together and listen together out loud feel more tightly connected with one another," says Levitin.