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Prolonged Exposure to Silence Benefits Your Mental Health

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on July 11, 2016 3:57 PM

There is a growing body of scientific literature that indicates a relationship between loudness in our daily lives and degrading health. And on the flip-side, a piece by Daniel A. Gross from Nautilus suggests there are health benefits associated with prolonged periods of silence.

To many of us who live in urban areas and work in an office, this is hardly surprising. At least, it comports with our intuitions about how we'd like our ideal lives to be: mostly quiet, surrounded by placid nature, punctuated every-so-often with the hustle and bustle of city noise.

Correlation, and Then Causation

Unfortunately, a good many attorneys' lives are the exact opposite: mostly noisy, surrounded by the constant din of urban noise and electronics, punctuated too rarely with the sound of a faint breeze through trees overhead.

It's almost a given now that areas of high noise are correlated with a host of unpleasant things: heart disease, depression, hearing loss, etc. People who live in particularly noisy areas are at a higher risk of being afflicted by one or more of these health issues. That's the correlation part. Not that people should self-diagnose, but one generally feels less healthy than they otherwise might feel if they were not assaulted with noise 24/7.

Then there's causation of actual medical conditions. Numerous studies have already shown what can only be called an actual causation between very loud music and actual hearing loss, a problem uniquely associated with millennials because today's portable devices play longer and louder than even those during the 80s. And the problem is particularly insidious because the human body adjusts and gets used to current levels of noise. You could be listening to music loudly and damaging your hearing without even knowing it.

Improved Memory?

Besides needing the occasional psychological reset every so often, Gross's study suggests that silence (not quiet music) confers physical benefits to the brain, not simply psychological touchy-feely sorts of benefits. A study of mice at Duke University found that (at least for mice) a two hour stretch of silence was positively correlated with the growth of cells in the hippocampus, that region of the brain associated with the formation of memory. How this affects people is yet to be definitively hammered down, but we're sure research has already begun.

If nothing else, silence does at least make you feel better about the day. It's another thing we like to try and fit into our more efficient alternatives to the usual 8-hour workday.

So, do yourself a favor. Next time you get the chance, unplug completely and get out into nature. Lay down. Doing nothing could be the most productive thing you do all day.

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