Does Music Help With Studying and Keeping You Awake?

These days, if you walk into a public library, there’s a good chance you’ll find students congregating in crowded silence, buried in their work while earphones and air pods keep their ears company. The digital music revolution has placed an infinite catalogue of music in our pockets, making it much easier to plug into our own little worlds. But prevalence does not equal improvement. While technological advances have radically changed the way we listen to music, the education model has remained pretty well unchanged for decades. This begs the question then:

Does Music Help With Studying? 

The short answer is – it depends. Unlike the so-called ‘Mozart effect’ which emerged in the 1990s – a theory that argued that listening to Mozart made you smarter (and has since been dismissed) – the fact of the matter is that there is simply no hard-and-fast rule about music and study. The effectiveness of music on study is dependent on the type of music being listened to, and the type of study being done.  

Music to Help You Stay Awake and Study

 What Type of Music Can Help You Study? 

If you want to enhance your study, you should opt for music that relaxes you and puts you in a better mood. This might be a classical piece; it could be an ‘alpha wave’ composition (now very popular for studying and readily available on YouTube and other platforms); or it might just be your favourite song. Ultimately, if our mood is improved and our stress and anxiety levels go down, we are better placed to commit ourselves to potentially unpleasant and challenging tasks.

Music Genres to Listen to While Studying: 

When it comes to specific genres that can help you study, here are some music genres that are often recommended for studying:

  • Classical Music
  • Instrumental Ambient
  • Lo-Fi Hip Hop
  • Nature Sounds
  • Baroque Music

When listening to music while studying, it’s important to choose music that works best for you individually. Experiment with different genres and styles to find what helps you stay focused and engaged while studying.

What Types of Music Should You Avoid When Studying? 

As a general rule, it is best to avoid music that is too loud, too lyrical, or too fast. Too loud is self-explanatory (protect your ears!). Too lyrical and you will run the risk of being distracted by the music. Too fast? Think about trying to waltz to a disco track. You’d be so out of time it’s not even funny. And this out-of-sync feeling would also crop up if you were trying to study to up-tempo music. Unless you’re writing a thousand words a minute, or solving a question a second, it’s best to select something that matches your work speed. This will help your body and mind work in unison, priming you to enter your study zone, and therefore enabling you to work for extended periods.

Music Genres to Avoid While Studying: 

It’s generally recommended to avoid the following genres while studying:

  • Upbeat Pop or Rock
  • Heavy Metal or Hard Rock
  • Vocal-intensive Music
  • Highly Emotional Music

Does Music Help With All Types of Studying? 

Listening to music is not compatible with all types of study. Researchers in Australia and the UK have found that music decreases people’s capacity to carry out reading comprehension and writing exercises. This is especially the case with music containing vocals.

In this instance, you’re asking your brain to process two sets of words at once. Obvious to say, then, that your capacity to comprehend and process study material is going to be impacted if part of your brain is listening to the lyrics.

Evidence suggests that listening to music may help memory retention, but it also advises that people are better able to recall information when they are in a similar environment in which it was learned.

Can Music Keep You Awake When You Need to Study? 

When it comes to studying, the effect of music on staying awake can vary from person to person. Some individuals find that listening to music helps them stay alert and focused, while others may find it distracting. The key is to strike a balance.

Upbeat and energising music can provide a stimulating effect, helping to keep you awake and engaged. However, ad we mentioned before, it’s important to choose music without distracting lyrics or vocals, as they can divert your attention from studying.

Remember, everyone is different, so it’s essential to find what works best for you. Experiment with different music genres and styles to discover the right balance that keeps you awake, engaged, and productive during your study sessions.

So, unless schools start allowing students to listen to music during tests and exams, it may actually be counter-productive to study with music, particularly if you’re completing practice tests and exam questions.

Explore Other Studying Aids

Did you know that music isn’t the only thing that can help with studying? If you feel like your child could use extra support with focus and study motivation, contact A Team Tuition and discover how our Academic Personal Trainers tutor, mentor and assist with studying.