Music Tones Down Stress

– Emma Cernat , S7FR (EEB1), 16.09.2017

Have you ever experienced stress just before an exam? Do you listen to music when you study? Do you feel relaxed when you listen to music?  If the answer to all those questions is yes and you want to know how listening music affects your health, then you should definitely read this article!
Studies have shown that music therapy can be helpful when you suffer from anxiety and stress. Stress comes from cortisol, the so-called ‘stress’ hormone. Cortisol is our bodies’ response to fear. There are two kinds of stress: there is good stress (eustress), when cortisol is liberated and your body gets ready for action. Then there is our enemy – bad stress (distress) – when cortisol constantly accumulates in your body. Scientists have proven that constant exposure to stress and therefore the accumulation of cortisol can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and heart diseases. Stress also negatively affects memory and learning abilities.


Listening to music however can protect you from accumulating too much cortisol. A joint study performed by researchers at the Universities of Heidelberg and Marburg [1] shows that music impacts our psychobiological stress system. Results also revealed that simply listening to music reduces both stress and high cortisol levels.

However, music affects more than just your stress levels. Music has often been used by doctors for patients with dementia and it can boost your memory. This is perfect for exams! A study conducted by several Hungarian researchers [2] found out that it can also help with sleeping disorders and improve your quality of sleep, which is essential for sleep-deprived students during the exam period. Music plus sports is even better! Listening to music can improve your workouts by increasing the endorphin in your brain and making you more resilient against the pain you inflict on your muscles while doing sports. More music leads to more sports, and both lead to less stress and better exam results.

To conclude, listening to music can be quite helpful in many ways. Nevertheless, if you want good grades in school, I am afraid you still have to study those irritating trigonometry formulas!


[1] Linnemann, A., Ditzen, B., Strahler, J., Doerr, J. M., Nater, U.M. (2015) “Music listening as a means of stress reduction in daily life”,Psychoneuroendocrinology 60:82-90.
[2] Harmat, L., Takács, J., Bódizs, R. (2008) “Music improves sleep quality in students”, Journal of Advanced Nursing 62(3):327-35.

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