Humans have always recognized the importance of silence; back in the mid-1800s, Florence Nightingale wrote that "Unnecessary noise is the cruelest absence of care that can be inflicted on sick or well." Wonder what she'd think about today's world with its exponentially increasing noise pollution?
Silence can be hard to find; even in our homes today, ticking clocks and electrical hums fill the space when our voices are silent. So finding silence can be a Herculean task in and of itself. However, it's worth it.
Here are four reasons why you should welcome the sound of silence.
1. Silence Relaxes the Body
What we hear affects how our body reacts. Even seemingly innocuous sounds can raise blood pressure and change how blood circulates throughout the body. Uptempo music and even "relaxing" music can increase blood pressure.
However silence significantly calms the body. A 2006 study published in Heart journal found that "A randomly inserted short pause (two minutes) decreased blood pressure, minute ventilation, heart rate…". While the study was small with only 24 participants, its findings suggest how immediate the effects of silence can be on the body.
Related: Ten Minutes of Silence: What I Learned the First Time Away from My Family
2. Silence Centers the Mind
A variety of research suggests that sitting in silence encourages the brain to wander. This wandering results in daydreaming, idea formulation, and emotional recall among other important cognitive processes.
Eliminating distractions helps the brain to do what it does best: make connections. Today's world, full of noise pollution, can decrease an individual's overall cognitive ability. The American Psychological Association outlined just how important silence is in an article entitled "Silence, please"- especially for children.
3. Silence Grows the Brain
At least, scientists think it does. A recent study appeared in Brain, Structure, and Function discussing how mice exposed to two hours of daily silence grew new cells in the hippocampus.
While we can't regenerate body parts yet like lizards or starfish, it may be possible to grow a few new cells in the hippocampus; this is important because this area in the brain greatly contributes to learning. And since we all know that "mom brain" is a real phenomenon, it's a worthwhile cause to help the brain out and sit in silence for fifteen minutes or more every day.
Related: Just Be: The Importance of Mindfulness for Mamas
4. Silence Nurtures Better Sleep
Meditating in silence may assist individuals in enjoying better quality sleep. A study published by JAMA Internal Medicine shared that participants involved in mindfulness meditation demonstrated improved sleep quality for adults. While this meditation became part of a better bedtime routine, it seems to suggest one more benefit of fitting silence into the daily routine.
While the old adage "Silence is golden" focused on how holding one's tongue was wise, perhaps its wisdom is twofold. Sitting in silence can offer coveted results in our daily lives. While finding silence may be difficult, its benefits make it a sought-after treasure.
If you're hoping to reduce stress, increase your memory and creativity, and enjoy better sleep, seek out the silence - each and every day.