Sound Wellness Initiative
TREND 1: The Future of Sound Wellness is Here: Digital Health + Bioacoustics = Sound Wellness
There are many devices that are capable of collecting health information outside of a doctor’s office or medical setting. Beyond specific home-use devices though, our own digital devices that we carry with us all the time, or the wearable digital devices that are becoming more and more popular can now collect a plethora of health data that is monitored nearly constantly. The integration of biometric data collected by these digital devices, such as the Fitbit, the Oura ring, and the Apple watch, is being utilized to tailor music, sound, and acoustic resonance therapies to modulate psychology and physiology. Spotify is now offering personalized wellness music solutions and companies like Muse have devices such as a headband that teaches meditation using sound. mHealth has created sensors which attach to a patient’s feet to collect data on gait, which are analyzed by a smartphone app that pairs the patient’s gait with music. Bioacoustic resonance therapies are being used to deliver specific sound frequencies through bone conduction into the brain and tactilely through the body. Platforms creating healing soundscape of “generative” or “algorithmic” music influenced by human biometrics (heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration, blood pressure, temperature, galvanic skin response, sleep data, etc.) are continuing to advance. Biometric influenced and/or personalized playlists are helping accomplish a certain task or achieve a certain mental state through data collection and analysis of physical health data via digital health devices. The future of wearables and hearables such as enhanced hearing aids that do triple duty to collect biometric data, enhance hearing, and deliver therapeutic music and sound are on the rise, and expected to become more pervasive in the coming years.
TREND 2: Music and Sound Enhance Quality of Life for Aging and Elderly Populations
Music therapists have long known the benefits of music and sound for the aging. As our global population of baby-boomers ages into retirement and beyond, the need for healthcare solutions for the largest demographic in the world is greater than ever. Music holds the key to enhancing the quality of life for the elderly, both in terms of mental and emotional wellness and physical wellness. Reminiscence Music Therapy allows those with dementia to recall long term memories, connect with reality in the here-and-now, and connect with others, including family, friends, and caregivers. These moments of lucidity can not only provide joy and reduce agitation in dementia patients, but they often allow family and friends to experience the person they have lost, providing a sense of closure and fond memories that they can cherish even after their loved one is gone. Parkinson’s patients are often frustrated by the lack of coordination and tremors they experience in their bodies—their minds are clear about their intentions for movement, but their bodies simply won’t cooperate. Music-based Gait Rehabilitation and Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation are used with Parkinson’s patients to facilitate smooth movement which allows them to regain mobility and functional activities of daily living. Stroke patients often lose the ability to speak clearly, however, they can sing the words they are trying to say much more easily because the area of the brain that produces sung words is separate from the area that produces spoken words. Melodic Intonation Therapy can be used to help these patients retrain their speech patterns through song. The same Rhythmic Auditory Simulation used to aid Parkinson’s patients in smoothing out their movements is also used to facilitate movement in stroke rehabilitation. Finally, telehealth has brought music therapy to older adults around the world during the pandemic and will continue in both live and pre-recorded media.
TREND 3: A Parallel Pandemic: Music and Sound Healing Help Address the Post-Pandemic Mental Health Crisis
Never has the need to focus on mental and emotional health been more important than now. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a “parallel pandemic”—the mental health crisis that has resulted from the impact of the isolation, fear, and grief elicited by the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO reports a 25% increase in anxiety and depression around the world over the last two years and estimates that nearly 50% of young people suffer from some mental health issue. They propose that these effects will be with us for at least a generation. Thankfully, the stigma attached to mental health is declining, and especially among young people, seeking treatment and engaging in self-care is seen as positive. However, the capacity of mental health services is stretched thin in every part of the world, with an inability to meet demand leading to a need for more scalable self-service solutions to positively impact mental health. Music and sound therapies provide a natural solution as they are easily accessible, especially with the ubiquity of digital devices and music streaming services. Music is generally well-liked and enjoyed by most people and can be easily personalized to a person’s individual tastes, something that is incredibly important in the use of music for improving mental and emotional health. The incorporation of sound and music into wellness apps such as Calm, Headspace, and others, supports personalized programming that enhances mental and emotional health. Self-care and wellness listening trends on music streaming services increased exponentially during the pandemic and continue to rise. Services such as Endel provide music soundscapes powered by artificial intelligence to enhance emotional wellbeing and wellness. The use of music and sound to improve wellness is at an all-time high, but the potential for growth is also exponential.
TREND 4: Sound Body, Sound Mind: Sound Wellness Improves Fitness to Improve Overall Health
Peloton, Soul Cycle, and Therabody Reset Outlets utilize sound, music and acoustic resonance therapies to support motivational fitness routines as well as provide optimal rest and recovery experiences. Millennials, Gen Zs, professional athletes and fitness experts are curating custom playlists focused on pop and trap music for high intensity workouts and austere instrumentals for Pilates, yoga, meditation and other movement and martial arts practices. In addition, many health and fitness clubs are now introducing rest and recovery spaces that support enhanced mental, emotional and spiritual awareness programming to enhance their members’ overall health and wellbeing. Sound Healing meditations, guided imagery and other programs that incorporate hemi-sync, binaural beats, solfeggio, and isotonic frequencies are being delivered through treatment tables, loungers, and even patented fitness flooring. New community-based programs such as drumming circles, sound baths, live music and sound healing events are being introduced globally. We envision new programs such as children’s story time, sensory integration for special needs, and advanced elderly support increasing as more clinical research demonstrates how the healing power of sound and vibrational frequencies can help mitigate bone loss, increase circulation, enhance body/mind awareness and more.
TREND 5: Sound Asleep: Using Sound to Enhance Sleep Environments
The quality of our sleep directly impacts our mental, emotional and physical wellness. Sleep patterns have changed over time with the advent of technology that has allowed us to be productive twenty-four hours a day. Around the world, societies who are concerned with high productivity also tend to suffer from poorer sleep practices. This combined with the stress and anxiety experienced in these cultures and the compounded impact of the mental health crisis elicited by the pandemic, has led to the need for sleep aids and interventions on a massive scale. From natural to medicinal applications, to products designed to enhance the sleep experience, such as special beds and bedding, to harnessing the power of the lullaby sung to calm babies to sleep in virtually every culture, potential solutions abound. Music and sound have been an especially important tool, as they are easy, inexpensive, intuitive, and readily available. Just as a mother sings her baby to sleep, so too can a song soothe a person’s physical and mental state to bring them to a place where they can ease into a more restful period of deep sleep. To this end, there has been a proliferation of sleep playlists on all digital platforms, including apps such as Spotify, Calm, and Headspace. Sleep soundscapes like Max Richter’s SLEEP album and SLEEP events are being offered globally. Products like the Dreampad Pillow plays music through bone conduction to aid in falling and staying asleep. Patented Acoustic Resonance Technology embedded into mattresses increases circulation, sensory integration, and a deep sense of mind/body harmonization as you feel the sounds and music resonate through your body like a musical massage. Music and sound have the potential to ease the sleep problems of generations of people who will benefit physically, mentally, and emotionally from higher quality, more restful sleep.