Does an upcoming vacation have you wondering, what's the best way to relax? According to recent research, it's as easy as pulling up YouTube. A study from Oxford University found that the most calming music is slow, with a 10-second cycle that mimics the body's natural blood pressure cycle.. Two kinds of nerves, the sympathetic and the vagal, regulate heart rate and blood pressure, and Oxford professor Peter Sleight told the Independent that the delay in communication between the nerves causes their signals to only align every 10 seconds. Music with 10-second cycles, which resemble our bodies' natural rhythms, were found to be the most calming in Professor Sleight's study.
So what music happens to contain these 10-second cycles? According to the study, old school music is the way to go if you're looking to calm down after a long day, because classical music was found to be more relaxing than pop, rock, or jazz. Specifically, the music of Giuseppe Verdi, Beethoven's 9th symphony (or at least the slow parts), and some of Puccini's arias from Turandot are the most likely to lower blood pressure. Maybe this explains why Hannibal Lecter is so freakishly calm while murdering people — it must be all that opera he listens to while cooking.
Professor Sleight will present his study at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference this week, but in the meantime, you can test his experiment out for yourself by listening to some of Verdi's works on your own. As a classical music nerd, I've picked out a few of my favorites below: