Song stuck in your head? It could be stress

People will often wake up with a song in their head - and a study has highlighted stress as one of the reasons for this. Dr Vicky Williamson, of Goldsmith's College in London and and Society member, collaborated with BBC 6Music's Shaun Keaveny's Breakfast Show to look at why individuals often think of a tune when they stir from their slumber.

The study revealed such a process is highly individual and heterogeneous, with only a small number of tracks appearing more than once from a database of 1,000 of these 'earworm' songs.

A number of triggers were discovered as reason for the phenomenon, with stress identified as one.

Dr Williamson explained people who hear a song when under pressure may recall the tune again during hard times later in life, while other individuals may keep thinking about a melody if they hear it repeatedly over time.

She said: "Music is often encoded in a very personal and emotional way and we know that when we encode anything with emotional or personal connotations, it's recalled better in memory."

Dr Williamson's work has previously been included in our Research Digest.