Studies have shown that music can aid in productivity when doing repetitive work (like copying notes, my fatal friend). I have done some investigating to find the best scientifically-proven sounds to improve your focus and productivity when you need that extra push.
1. Brainwave Entrainment
This phrase may sound intimidating to you but I promise it's a lot simpler than it seems. Brainwave entrainment is the scientific term of synchronizing your brain's neuron activity to the rhythm of sound. There are two types of Brainwave Entrainment:
1. Binaural beats: I have been using binaural beats to up my study game throughout my university career, they help me zone in. Surprisingly, time goes by super fast when I plug into these beats.
Why this works: Binaural beats utilize your brains natural ability to fill in sensory gaps by emitting sounds of two different frequencies into each ear (via headphones). This causes the brain to detect the variance between these two frequencies and create its own frequency from the difference between the two. More info on that here.
2. Isochronic Tones: These present a single frequency being turned on and off at a fast rate. With this method you don't need to use headphones.
Why this works: Research has said that the brain actually functions most optimally during the silence between sounds — this is why drumming can be so entrancing.
2. Meditation Music
Huge workload = lots o' stress, and stress is not your friend when you need to focus. Music used for the purpose of meditation facilitates your mind and body's ability to relax into a state of calmness.
The effects of meditation music have been studied on cancer patients to decrease their levels of stress and increase their probability of healing and physiological markers of health.
3. Nature & Rain Sounds
There is nothing like the sound of a heavy downpour to make you feel surprisingly okay to be spending your Friday night in. You might even be glad you turned down your friend's offer to head downtown.
Nature relaxes us; it takes us away from the beeps and honks of city living and brings us to a state of relaxation and contentment. In a 2010 study, the participants who completed a challenging math problem that was followed by 10 minutes of nature sounds experienced greater sympathetic nervous system relaxation than the control group.
For those of us who may not have been less enthusiastic about science, the sympathetic nervous system is most well-known as the mediator of the fight-or-flight response. Simply put, it activates when we are under stress.
4. Classical Music
Research done in French universities have shown that listening to classical music while studying can actually increase your test scores. Students lectured in a room with classical music in the background did significantly better on a quiz than students in a room with no music.
At this point in the semester, why not see if throwing a little Mozart in your Spotify playlist might help you get on better terms with your GPA—or just to make you feel like you have your life a little more put together. Whatever floats your boat.
There's nothing more distracting to me than someone screaming in my ears about spilt spaghetti (sorry Eminem). That's when I discovered the magical world of instrumental soundtracks.
From movie and video game soundtracks to trance jazz, the pure melody of the music gives your brain a break from trying to make sense of song lyrics in addition to concentrating on the 2,300 words you still have to knock out on your essay.
6. Music that makes you feel good
When you feel like you just can't type those last 400 words in your essay or read that extra chapter of psychology, throw on your favourite tunes!
There's no denying that putting on your best feel good song gives you a rush of energy. So when you find that it's getting a little hot from your fifth hour in the library, don't stop believin' that you will survive this semester!
Using music as a tool to manipulate your state of mind is a worthwhile skill to develop. Whether you need to sleep, workout, study, or have fun, utilizing the proper songs to alter your physical and emotional state can be your secret to success.
Music is directly related to our emotions and memories. You can see this in your own life when you put on a song that reminds you of a certain person, experience, or feeling. This is why the music industry is so big—music is uniquely human and we must use is as such.
Find what works best for you and take control of your surroundings to best benefit your goals! So update that Spotify playlist and individualize it to tailor your mood needs. The better you feel, the better you perform.