Everyone who sings in a choir knows that singing together makes us feel better, but did you know that it actually synchronises our heartbeats? That’s an absolutely amazing piece of information!
An article published in ‘Frontiers of Psychology’ found that since singing requires us to breath in a certain way, when we all sing together, our breathing patterns have to be the same. This in turn, affects our heart activity (heart rate variability), via something called ‘respiratory sinus arrhythmia’, which in turn, causes our heartbeats to synchronise as well.
So when we sing together, we harmonise our voices together, and our breathing patterns and heartbeats also harmonise!
Singing together makes our heartbeats rise and fall together
This study asked fifteen 18 year old’s to sing three different song structures together: hum, hymn and mantra, each of which has a different temporal structure. A hum has no coordinated temporal structure, a mantra is completely coordinated, whilst a hymn is partly coordinated.
The researchers found that the normal variation in heartbeats exhibited by everyone (heart rate variability) was still individual when they hummed together, but was dominated by a certain frequency (0.1 to 0.2 Hz) when they sang a hymn. However, when they sang a mantra together, this coordination coalesced at 0.1 Hz and was statistically significant.
They concluded that there is a strong connection between the structure of a song and the pattern of heart rates when people sing together. It all comes down to the fact that the structure of a song dictates the way we need to breathe and this is explained by respiratory sinus arrhythmia, which mirrors the music’s structure.
Respiratory sinus arrhythmia itself is not properly understood, but the end result is that when we sing in a choir, we not only feel great, but our heart rates synchronise as well.