Humming is something simple that we’ve all done before, but did you know it actually has some legitimate, science-backed benefits?
Humming? Really? Seriously, what good could that do?
I totally get the skepticism here, but humming has some pretty interesting effects on our physiology that might be worth entertaining.
Now, I’m not talking about spending hours on end humming—that might drive the people in your life just a little crazy! All I’m saying is that humming a tune every now and then could be a powerful way to ease our bodies and minds.
In today’s newsletter, I’m sharing two benefits of humming that have way more impact than making boring tasks more enjoyable or putting a little pep in your step.
Before we go any further, I’m going to ask you to pick your favorite tune, or whatever song that has been stuck in your head lately, and hum it out while you’re reading through this newsletter, and by the end, you could be left vibrating at a higher frequency.
Ready? Set? Hum!
Humming boosts nitric oxide production
Yes, you read that’s right. According to a small study, humming can increase nitric oxide production 15-fold—that’s FIFTEEN TIMES the amount of nitric oxide you get with a silent exhale. Not bad, right?
If you’re not familiar with nitric oxide or why having more of it in your body is good for you and your overall health, check out my previous newsletter, where I cover the many benefits of nitric oxide and the pitfalls of not having enough.
All right, back to humming: I bet you’re wondering, “How exactly does humming boost nitric oxide levels?”
When we hum while exhaling, it speeds up the air exchange between our sinuses and nasal cavity. And since your nose is the primary site of nitric oxide production in your body, the vibrations of your humming cause the air to oscillate in your sinuses at a higher frequency, which prompts additional nitric oxide production.
According to this quote by Dr. Lou Ignarro (who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of nitric oxide’s role in the body), “After you ﬁnish humming, if you immediately breathe in through your nose, you can capture quite a bit of the nitric oxide.”
More nitric oxide means better blood flow, and better blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your tissues, which is kind of like the effect you get from hyperbaric oxygen therapy—except it’s FREE.
By the way, there’s also research that shows humming could be beneficial for allergic rhinitis—that’s fancy talk for a stuffy nose—by helping to open up our nasal passages. According to preliminary studies like this one, it takes longer than a few minutes to have an effect, but if you suffer from allergies (especially this time of year), it might be worth giving it a shot!
Humming can help calm your nervous system
When you hum, the “mmm” sound that’s emitted from your vocal cords creates tiny little vibrations at the back of your throat that travel down your body via the vagus nerve, the nerve that goes from your brain to your intestines, connecting to various organs along the way.
Your vagus nerve is responsible for controlling involuntary motor functions such as digestion, mood, heart rate, blood pressure, and so on. Stimulating your vagus nerve can help calm the nervous system by sending signals to the mind and body to relax, and humming is one of the ways you can do this. Speaking of which, this is one of the reasons you often see kids humming while they play—they’re practicing a simple self-soothing technique.
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Pass this information along to friends, family, your partner, or your kids, and explain how humming can be a way to help them calm down whenever they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. AND, on top of that, they’ll also be getting a nitric oxide boost, which is great for better blood flow and cardiovascular health.
If you made it this far humming, how do you feel? A little more relaxed? Calmer? Let me know using the feedback feature below!
And if you liked this week’s newsletter, forward it to a friend, and be sure to tell them to sign up for Try This to receive more evidence-based newsletters like this one, sent to their inbox every Friday!