Sunday mornings are tailor-made for a quiet moment of reflection before preparing for another busy week ahead. And taking a pause in silence could help heal the brain which excessive noise may be damaging by causing the release of stress hormones. By carving out time to turn off and tune out each day in quiet, studies have found the brain can repair itself; for aging adults, anything that slows or prevents cognitive decline is worth exploring.
Noise causes a physiological response in the body, it has been linked not only with increased stress but also high blood pressure, heart disease, cognitive impairment, tinnitus and sleep disturbances. According to the World Health Organization, noise pollution is considered a threat to public health and in Europe, an estimated 3,000 heart disease deaths each year can be linked to excessive noise as a root cause.
Taking periods of time each day, away from noise and screens to spend in quiet, preferably in nature, can have restorative benefits for the body and the mind. By reducing stress caused by excessive noise, the brain can begin to heal itself. Research published in 2013 by Imke Kirste, found that complete silence caused new cell development in the hippocampus of mice, an area of the brain associated with memory.
In an earlier 2005 Italian study, short two-minute periods of silence inserted into a piece of music had a greater effect on the state of relaxation participants demonstrated than any of the types of music played. Silence, often built into pieces of music, can also cause the brain to become active in different ways than when it is receiving constant input. Research and science agree that periods of prolonged silence each day could help adults better manage damaging stress and improve memory and cognitive function.
“True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit. What sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” – William Penn