The optimal songs for waking up and studying

Oct. 23, 2018, 2:00 a.m.

All of my life I was convinced that I was a morning person. In high school, I would very frequently go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. to do my homework. “Why didn’t you do your homework at night?” you may ask. I have plenty of answers: Facebook, Snapchat, conversation with family and trashy TV to name a few.

Now, however, I cannot get up for the life of me. I thought having a 10:30 a.m. class was luxury — turns out it isn’t when you have 16 units freshman fall quarter and are still figuring out how to effectively balance work, sleep and a social life.

Cambridge psychologist David Greenberg recently teamed up with Spotify to create a morning wake-up playlist. According to Greenberg and Spotify’s team, there are three qualities that a song needs to possess for it to be a good “wake-up song.” First, it should be music that builds because starting gently and building up may help you more gradually get out of bed. Also, it should have positivity because positive lyrics will help build motivation for the day. Lastly, it should have a strong beat with an emphasis on beats two and four of each measure (100-130 bpm is ideal).

Some of the songs that Greenberg and Spotify found to fit this criteria include Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” Imagine Dragons’ “On Top of The World” and Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” Here is the full list. If what’s more or less ~all-American~ isn’t your vibe, I would recommend the following songs: Chloe x Halle’s “Happy Without Me,” Mac Miller’s “Self Care,” Tame Impala’s “The Less I Know the Better” and “Let It Happen.”

I always tried to study to rap, but I noticed that when I tried to read, write or do math (the majority of the work that I do), I listened too closely to the lyrics and ended up typing those words rather than the ones I needed to in order to complete my work. I also don’t enjoy studying in silence, so I made it a point to figure out what music I could listen to without getting too distracted.

Whether it be in your dorm room, the low-ceilinged stacks in Green Library or on Meyer Green, there are certain qualities that make certain songs better studying music. There should be a natural element. Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute discovered that adding a natural element to the music can boost moods and focus, as well as mask speech and white noise. Also, there shouldn’t be any lyrics. According to research from Cambridge Sound Management, speech distracts about 48 percent of office workers. Intelligible words lead us to shift our focus to figuring out what is being said; your focus would simply shift from conversation to words in a song. Finally, there should be a specific tempo. Researchers from BMS College of Engineering in Malaysia found that subjects reported an increase in physical relaxation and a dramatic reduction in stress when they listened to music at 60 bpm.

If you’re looking for recommendations, here are songs that fulfill one or more of the three criteria outlined above: Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” and “Forrest Gump,” The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games,” Lana del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful,” Kanye West’s “Ghost Town” and “Violent Crimes,” Mac DeMarco’s “On The Level,” Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky,” The xx’s “On Hold” and John Mayer’s “New Light.”

While I only got to share the theories behind what music should be listened to for two key aspects of the day, I’m currently creating a Spotify playlist for various parts of my day; it will progress from waking up to winding down for bed.


Contact Kyla Windley at kwindley ‘at’ for her Spotify link.

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