The effect of music, therapy, and relaxation on adrenal corticosteroids and the re-entrainment of circadian rhythms

J Music Ther. 1985 Spring;22(1):46-58. doi: 10.1093/jmt/22.1.46.


The purpose of this study was to measure the effects of music, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), and guided imagery (GI) on the adrenal corticosteroids, or "stress hormones." Hypotheses were designed to evaluate the effect of a taped induction of music/PMR/GI on the mean level (1), circadian amplitude (2), and circadian re-entrainment with body temperature (3) of urinary corticosteroids. Urine collections and body temperature were recorded in shift-working nurses during three 4-5 day intervals over a 1-month period. The nurses listened to the tape on a daily basis, commencing after the first recording period. Results indicated that circadian amplitude decreased significantly (p = .007), and corticosteroid and temperature rhythms were significantly (p less than .01) more entrained during the tape conditions. The mean corticosteroid level also declined during tape listening, but nonsignificantly (p = .15). Because of the close relationship between corticosteroids and the immune system, these data suggest a relationship between music/relaxation techniques and physical health.

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Humans
  • Music Therapy*
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological*