Have you ever sat down to study, and the area around you got noisy? That has happened to me a bunch of times. During a recent study session, I crammed some earplugs in my ears in the hopes they would help to tune it all out.
Do earplugs help you study better? The answer is yes. Using earplugs turns out to be a game-changer for most. The quieting of your surroundings can automatically help you maintain focus and limit the distractions around you.
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Before you run out and buy the first bag or set of earplugs you see, it’s a good idea to do a little bit of research. Some of the key questions to ask yourself are:
- How often are you in noisy areas when studying
- What kind of earplug is right for you
- What are some other ways you can put them to good use? (Nobody likes a unitasker!)
This guide will help give you the information you need before heading to the store!
Why Earplugs Help With Studying
Studying with earplugs has many benefits. A good pair of noise-canceling earplugs can make even the busiest place a haven of quiet. Eliminating the distractions caused by the activities around you can improve focus and retention of the information you’re learning. Some of these distractions include:
- other people’s conversations
- common ambient noise
Why You Need Quiet
● Quiet improves concentration
Studying in a noisy environment, or with music on can provide unneeded distractions. Many are prone to listening to other people’s conversations or associating thoughts with the music that’s on. These sources of input can put your concentration in the wrong place.
● Reduced distraction reduces Stress.
Removing distraction and allowing our minds to get into “the zone” reduces the Stress generated by:
- Worry over missed deadlines
- Poor grades
- Other external stimuli.
● You’ll remember all that stuff you’re studying much better.
While studying, the name of the game is focus. Your level of focus will directly affect your capacity to retain information. If you’re repeatedly distracted, you’re going to have a harder time remembering what you’ve just tried to learn, read, and take notes on.
● Retaining information is not just beneficial for doing well on that sociology test.
Often, the things we study for a specific course are useful in other places in our lives. When you’re focused and retaining information well, you may be keeping valuable information you’ll need later on in life in your back pocket.
● The quality of your work will go up.
More quality focus = better results. If you can block out exterior distractions, your ability to make connections between pieces of information rises. With this skill, you’ll write better papers, and generate higher quality work.
● It can save you time.
Think about the last time you tried to read a book with a bunch of distractions and noise. Chances are, you had to re-read multiple paragraphs to re-focus on what was going on. This duplication of effort takes up valuable time when you’re trying to get that report turned in complete and on time.
● Saving time makes for a more balanced life.
If you can focus well from the beginning, it’ll cut the time in it takes to do the things you need to do. This increased efficiency will free up time for what you want to do, balancing your time between work and play.
What To Look For When Choosing The Right Earplugs
You might be asking: are all earplugs created equal, or do I have to be picky in what I choose to put in my ears? Listed below are guidelines for choosing the right earplugs for you:
● Make sure they fit your ears securely and comfortably.
If the earplugs are uncomfortable, you won’t wear them. Your new earplugs should fit snugly, but not so much that they leave your ears irritated or sore after use. It’s also vital to make sure they’re not putting pressure on the eardrum.
● Buy a variety pack.
Of course, you don’t want them too small and falling out all the time either, so it’s recommended first to buy a variety pack. That way, you’ll have a selection of sizes to try before deciding which fits you best.
● Look for a good NRR (noise reduction rating)
The NRR tells how much noise the earplugs can block. To determine this, they’re tested in a laboratory setting to determine how many decibels of sound they decrease when in use. Lab measurements aren’t absolute, so testing them out for yourself is probably a good idea as well.
● Make sure they’re made of the best material for your specific uses.
Earplugs are made from different materials to execute various functions. Most likely, you’ll be looking for noise reduction earplugs, which are usually made out of foam.
Does Everyone Study Best In A Quiet, Distraction-Free Environment?
Does a quiet environment make studying easier for everyone, though? My roommate can’t even think about cracking a book if there are dishes in the dishwasher but loves to listen to jazz while she’s studying.
My brother swears by the “Mozart Effect”, a theory that suggests that studying certain kinds of music is beneficial for the retention of information, specifically music without lyrics like classical or jazz.
There is evidence that music can certainly be beneficial while performing some tasks (think driving on long road trips or stuffing envelopes). However, many studies on the subject show quiet is better.
Science Supports Silence.
When performing cognitive tasks like studying or reading, multiple studies have shown that silence is best.
One group of scientists at Glasgow Caledonian University measured the performance of controlled groups of participants when completing a series of cognitive tasks. Some groups performed the tasks in an environment with varied types of music, one group performed in an environment with exposure to everyday noise, and another performed in a quiet environment.
Their results showed that subjects who listened to music (regardless of what type of music it was) and the subjects who were exposed to the background noise had decreased abilities in performing those cognitive tasks as compared to the subjects who completed the tasks in silence.
Other Ways The Silence From Your New Earplugs Can Benefit You
Aside from helping you get a better grade on your math test- you may as well get some mileage out of those earplugs when you need a little quiet in other areas of your everyday life. It turns out, integrating periods of silence into your daily routine can be really beneficial to your health and well being.
When looking at physical health, daily doses of silence can be good for:
● Decreasing Stress, which can set off a chain reaction of good things to take place within your body, including lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
● Helping prevent heart attacks by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. (See what I mean by chain reaction?)
● Lowering blood cortisol levels and adrenaline
● Helping prevent plaque formation in the arteries.
● Promoting a robust immune system.
● Relaxing and relieving tension in the body.
● Promoting healthy hormone regulation.
Silence can be great for your mental health as well:
● It can aid in cultivating creativity – without the distractions of outside noise, our thoughts can flow more easily in a free-associative way.
● It promotes self-awareness and awareness of your immediate environment.- We could all stand to be more self-aware. It helps prevent reactivity to negative emotions and cultivates better relationships. Improved awareness of your environment may help to keep you safer or help you look out for the safety of others.
● Encourages introspection and reflection.- Introspection and reflection are also a great support for healthier relationships. You may just find you’re ready to take an emotional risk about something once you’ve had time to process your thoughts about it in a quiet, distraction-free space.
We’re still primarily concerned with earplugs for studying and learning, though, right? Well, I’ve saved the most mind-blowing morsel of relevant information for last:
Silence can actually help your brain grow brand new cells!
A study conducted in 2013 determined that new cells in the hippocampus region were created when the subject was exposed to two hours of silence. In case you didn’t know, the hippocampus region of the brain is linked to learning, remembering, and emotions. So quiet makes you smarter because science said so.
Other Recommended Uses For Earplugs
Keep in mind there are lots of different kinds of earplugs that serve all types of purposes. For example, the earplugs you’re using for noise-blockage may not provide the ample protection your ears would need for swimming every day. Other recommended uses for earplugs include:
● Swimming- Usually, earplugs for swimming are made of silicone to ensure a tight seal on the ear canal to keep water out.
● Working with noisy equipment, such as air blowers or chainsaws, and other power tools.
● Protection at loud concerts.
● Driving/riding in noisy vehicles such as motorcycles.
● Discharging firearms.
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