Listening to music while reading is probably one of the most relaxing, rewarding, and pleasurable activities you can choose to unwind after a long day. We are all well aware that music can be therapeutic, and the benefits of reading are also old news for most of us, but what does it happen when we mix (pun intended) the two together?
Is it good to listen to music while reading, are there benefits to doing it or should we avoid it? The general belief of the entire Basmo team is that each person is different and should act accordingly, but we also agree that we usually need to learn more about ourselves with the help of some valuable advice.
Can you listen to music while reading?
Reading and listening to music at the same time is usually quite tempting, mainly because it is a combination of activities most of us love. Of course, you can listen to music while reading, nothing is actually stopping you. The two activities don’t overlap too much in terms of the parts of your brain they need to activate, but they can be overwhelmingly stimulating for some of us.
We are all different and react in different ways to stimuli. While some of us can easily read while listening to music, or even NEED to listen to music for our reading to be enjoyable, others quickly lose focus on one or the other. The rule of thumb when it comes to combining these two activities is to know yourself well enough to be able to decide whether the music is distracting you from your reading session or if it actually adds value.
So, whether you should listen to music while reading is entirely up to you and the reading material you have to go through. One thing is for sure though: for most of us, studying and listening to music don’t usually go too well together. Of course, exceptions exist in this case as well.
So, should you listen to music while reading?
Is it good to listen to music while reading?
As I mentioned earlier, here at Basmo, we understand very well that every person is unique and that we all respond differently to certain situations and stimuli. So whether it is good or bad to listen to music while reading is mainly something you will need to decide for yourself through a process of trial and error.
The best we can do for now is to present you the main benefits and drawbacks of combining listening to music with reading so you can get at least some idea of the implications.
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Benefits of listening to music while reading
- You will be more relaxed: Music has been scientifically proven to be a great tool for relaxation and relieving stress. Especially when the beat drops to around 60 beats per minute, music is stimulating our brain to synchronize with the beat, which induces a state of serenity. As we all know, reading has a somewhat similar effect, being particularly efficient as a stress relief tool. Combining the two can only result in a deeply relaxing experience.
- Music can enhance your cognitive performance: In some individuals, listening to music can have a positive effect on cognitive performance according to a study. For some students, the simple relaxing effect of music is enough to relieve the stress of studying and therefore be more productive. In other students, this effect was not found. So the increase in cognitive performance caused by listening to music while reading or studying depends on each individual and the way they function. The best way to find out in which category you fall, the best course of action would be to simply test it out.
- In noisy environments, music can help you focus: Even if you are not the kind of person who generally responds well to music when reading or studying, things can significantly change depending on the environment you are trying to read in. If the alternative to music is a noisy environment that will constantly distract you, music might be the better choice. Putting your headphones on and listening to your favorite tunes or just some relaxing music will separate you from the loud noises surrounding you and will allow you to focus better on what you are reading.
- Music can improve your mood: Studies have shown that music can have a positive effect on your state of mind and your mood, by increasing the level of dopamine in your brain. That can also have a positive effect on your reading. By associating reading with another activity that brings you joy, you will read more, be happier while you do it, and you will therefore do it better and more efficiently.
Cons of listening to music while reading
Of course, reading while listening to music is not for everyone. There are a couple of cons to combining these two activities you should be aware of. Here are some of the most important ones we found here at Basmo.
- Music with lyrics may distract you from your reading: Have you ever tried reading while someone kept talking and talking next to you? It’s pretty much impossible not to get distracted, as the words you are reading and the words you are hearing start mixing together, leading you to no longer know what you’re reading about and what you’re hearing about.
The same thing can be true when listening to music with lyrics in your mother tongue. If you don’t manage to phase out the words in the song to the extent where they no longer distract you, it might be a good idea to simply listen to music in a foreign language or just instrumental songs.
- Loud music may put you in a state of mind that is incompatible with reading: While for some people the only way of listening to music is to have it blasting in their speakers or headphones, to others this may feel overwhelming. Loud music can put you in a state of mind that has nothing to do with reading or studying, because your brain associates loud music with completely different scenarios like concerts or nights of clubbing. This is obviously not beneficial for your reading sessions.
- Agitated music can make you… well… agitated: Choosing your music at the right BPM is essential. As I mentioned earlier, a 60 beats per minute song can relax you and put you in a state of mind that will help your reading. On the other end of the spectrum we find faster songs, more agitated, with a higher BPM. Usually, a high BPM exceeds 100-120 beats per minute and listening to this kind of music can agitate you to the extent where you are unable to focus on your reading.
- Music can make you less productive: Again, completely dependent on your personality, music can have a positive or negative effect on your productivity. Some people can barely get anything done without some music running in the background, while others need perfect silence. There’s clearly just one way to find out which type you are, and act accordingly in the future.
- You may start needing it: The interesting thing about our brain is that it constantly makes connections and associations when we are not paying attention. The famous Pavlov experiment speaks to these associations louder than any of my words can ever express. But the same can happen when listening to music while reading and especially when studying. If you keep learning while music is running in the background, there is a chance you will absolutely need some music again when it’s time to recall the information. That is obviously not ideal, because your chances of ever being able to listen to music while taking an exam are quite slim.
Improve your reading experience with music and Basmo
One thing we need to constantly remind ourselves is that we are unique individuals with different needs and ways of functioning. That’s why some of the things I mentioned above will apply to you, while others won’t.
To find out exactly how you react to music while reading or studying and how it affects your performance, the only way is to experiment. And in order to be able to do that effectively, you will need to keep track of a lot of different criteria like your reading speed, your emotions, and other statistics.
The easiest way to do this is by using Basmo, the best reading tracking app. Basmo has been designed to track the most important data regarding your reading habits so that you can see your performance and start improving until you achieve your personal goals.
Here’s how Basmo can help you when it comes to listening to music while reading.
Basmo tracks key aspects about your reading
Knowing your starting point is the first step in any journey. The journey to becoming a better, more effective reader is no different. Basmo tracks important information about your reading performance, like reading speed, time spent reading, emotions, and frequency of reading sessions.
Analyzing this data in comprehensive reports and comparing your reading performance while listening to music and in perfect silence will provide you with a clear idea about the type of reader you are and how you should proceed from now on.
Of course, your performance, how much, and how quickly you read are all important. But you should also keep in mind that your feelings and emotions play a role in your overall performance. That is why your emotions are being tracked as well after each reading session. You can simply choose the emoji that best matches your state of mind and the app will generate an interesting weekly statistic which will help you decide whether music influences your mood.
Basmo helps you keep a reading journal
Having all this data at your fingertips is fine, but what can you do with it? Well, you need to learn from it and improve. Doing that can only be done through a thorough analysis of KPIs and comparing the reading experience with and without music.
Keeping a journal will make this task a lot easier and more efficient. Luckily for you, Basmo comes with this feature integrated and provides you with an easy and effective way of keeping a reading journal right within the app.
Basmo offers you countless personalization options for your reading lists
As I mentioned above, some books are too complex to be properly comprehended while listening to music, while others are fun and simple enough.
Well, to better organize your reading, you may want to create separate reading lists for the books you want to read while listening to music and for the ones that will require perfect silence.
Basmo offers you the option to create countless reading lists and personalize them however you see fit.
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What music to listen to while reading?
Depending on your taste in music and how you function while listening to different types of music, anything goes. While some people are perfectly fine listening to heavy metal while reading, others will prefer instrumental music with no lyrics and a low BPM.
Slow, chill instrumental music is generally the most recommended option, but the most important thing is to listen to music that brings you joy and a good state of mind.
Listening to music while reading is a great way to improve the experience of your reading sessions as long as you don’t get too distracted. Use Basmo to improve your reading habits and to analyze the way you react to different types of music and become the best reader you can be!