You have probably already come across binaural beats when searching the web about how to get better sleep. Binaural beats have become very popular on YouTube and promise to produce all sorts of desired effects in your brain.
Is the latest craze about binaural beats justified?
It’s said that they can cure almost everything from insomnia to anxiety while improving poor memory and happiness levels. They’re also supposedly able to change your mood, help you stick to a diet, quit smoking, cure headaches, balance your chakra, and even act as an aphrodisiac.
While it’s true that all this sounds a bit too good to be true, it’s also important to note that binaural beats have aroused great interest in the neurophysiological world, where scientists explore the sense of hearing.
And there are indeed some promising results that binaural beats have the ability to affect our brain in positive ways, which can help to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and also provide other health benefits.
So let’s take a closer look at that.
What are binaural beats?
When you go to a spa or a beauty or massage center, the first thing you notice is the quiet and peaceful surroundings, broken only by the equally intoxicating, calm sounding light music in the background.
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While the reason and goal for using binaural beats are somewhat similar, they are still very different in nature. Binaural beats are sounds that stimulate the brain in a certain way to help induce relaxation, meditation, creativity, and other desirable mental states.
The basis of binaural beats are different sound frequencies
The reason why binaural beats can affect your brain is because of the different frequencies of each sound. When you hear two sounds, one in each ear, that are slightly different in frequency, your brain processes a beat of the difference between the two frequencies.
For example, the right ear hears a tone of 300 Hz, while the left ear hears the same tones but with a different frequency of 310 Hz. Your brain, however, synchronizes with the difference. Instead of perceiving two different tones, you hear a tone at 10 Hz (in addition to the two tones given to each ear).
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For the binaural beat phenomenon to work, the low-frequency pulsations in the amplitude and the sound location of the tone must be displayed separately, ideally using headphones. Furthermore, the frequencies of the tones must be below 1000 Hz, with the difference not being more than 30 hertz. Otherwise, you are not able to feel the beats.
What are the effects of binaural beats on your brain?
As already mentioned, binaural beats influence the brain with the help of brain waves in different frequencies to achieve the desired effects. All this is related to the fact that our brain “hears” and processes these sounds and then relates them to different physical states.
When hearing binaural beats, your brain processes these sounds through both spatial perception and stereo auditory recognition, which then generates the reactions and activations of the various points in the brain.
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As a consequence, various feelings, sensations, and perceptions in certain areas are brought to the forefront of the brain into the thought process. Below are some examples of what you can expect to gain from the different binaural beat waves:
Gamma Brain Waves (32 Hz and above)
Gamma waves should ideally be at the 40Hz level. When the brain is tuned to this level, it can simulate a higher level of mental activity, which includes better perception, better problem-solving skills, better control of fear and awareness.
Beta Brain Waves (16 – 31 Hz)
The frequency range of Beta waves is between 16 – 31 Hz. As long as you are physically active and mentally awake, you will probably spend most of your waking hours in a beta state. If you use binaural beats in the Beta frequency range, you can expect becoming more active and aroused with increased concentration and cognition levels. However, staying too long in a Beta state can contribute to stress, anxiety, and even paranoia.
Alpha Brain Waves (8 – 15 Hz)
Alpha waves – are kept between 8 – 15 Hz to ensure optimal levels of relaxation while in a fully conscious state, like before going to sleep and before waking up, when one is in a state of drowsiness. Alpha waves are slower and have less amplitude and variability than beta waves.
Theta Brain Waves (4 – 7 Hz)
Theta waves – normally set at 4 – 7 Hz, which is ideal for reaching the deeply meditative and relaxed levels. It is perfect for NREM sleep patterns.
Delta Brain Waves (below 4 Hz)
Delta waves are the brain waves with the lowest frequency and create the natural, inner, self relaxed state that promotes restful, dreamless deep sleep. This state is, of course, ideal when you’re seeking complete separation from the state of consciousness.
What effect have binaural beats on your sleep?
It’s no secret that not reaching the level of deep sleep long enough (or even not at all!) can be very harmful to you, both mentally and physically. The optimal functioning of your body depends very much on the amount of rest that is acquired during deep sleep.
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Not getting enough deep sleep also drastically lowers the strength of the immune system and reduces brain function and performance. Often it also leads to elevated blood pressure, mood swings, and a constant state of lethargy, and it can even contribute to obesity.
How to use binaural beats for inducing deep sleep
More and more research is showing that binaural beats can contribute positively to an individual’s ability to reach the level of deep sleep. Many people report falling asleep within minutes when listening to deep sleep recordings. Even more so, they often experience an uninterrupted and restful sleep until the next morning with adequate phases of deep sleep.
As mentioned before, it’s primarily the delta waves, the lowest frequency brain waves, that create the natural inner, self relaxed state that promotes deep restorative sleep. By using binaural beats, delta waves will lead your brain directly into the deep sleep phase, resulting in a long and restful sleep pattern during which your body can rejuvenate. You can find an example here.
Which binaural beats are suitable for inducing deep sleep?
Generally, specific binaural beats induce different mental states. For deep sleep, one of the most popular sounds is one where the ocean is gently rippling against the coastline combined with light binaural beats in the background (like this one). This sound effect will gradually put your brain into a deep sleep due to the low-frequency waves used.
Is it possible to heal addictions with binaural beats?
There are many different addictive behaviors today. No matter what the addiction is, the tiring fight against addiction is always a great challenge for those affected.
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Here, binaural beats can offer some relief because they have the ability to influence the brain waves in a way that puts the mind into a relaxed state. Once a person who is struggling with addiction is in this positive state, it is easier for him or her to cope better with the stress caused by addiction, which has a supportive effect on the desire to end the addiction.
Binaural beats create positive thoughts and feelings
In addition, using binaural beats regularly creates a feedback loop with increasingly positive thoughts and feelings in the brain, which then also has a positive effect on the behavior.
In other words, binaural beats can help the affected person to reach a renewed state of mind in which he or she can choose to better deal with the stress and cravings of the particular object of addiction, and they can help to stop the addictive behavior. Another advantage of this method is that it does not require much additional effort and is 100% drug-free.
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Can binaural beats relieve anxiety?
In this study, patients would listen for half an hour to binaural beats before their surgery. Compared to patients who listened to music without binaural beats and others who listened to no beats at all, those who listened to binaural beats had a more significant decrease in anxiety.
Binaural beats for deep meditation
Many people start with meditation but then struggle to stick to it. The reasons why people do not adhere to a meditation practice are very individual, but here are some of the most common ones:
- Inability to calm your mind
- Having difficulties to concentrate
- Feeling physically restless
- Not getting the desired results fast enough
If any of these reasons sound like something you can relate to, you may try using binaural beats next time when you’re meditating. People who are meditating while listing to binaural beats often feel that this method offers a simple shortcut to a meditative state.
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All you need to do is put on a headset or headphones, relax and listen. The binaural beats will bring your brain into a state similar to deep meditation, but much faster. Also, people who use binaural beats for meditation often feel extremely well-rested and rejuvenated when they come out of the deep meditative state.
Are there any side effects of using binaural beats?
There are no known side effects, except that you need to be careful that the volume in your headphones is not too high to hurt your ears. Listening to these sounds at a volume of 85 decibels or more, which is equivalent to heavy traffic, can lead to hearing loss over time.
However, if you have epilepsy or suffer from ADHS or depression, it is best to talk to your doctor before trying. But if you have trouble sleeping or need to calm your mind from anxious thoughts, you can go ahead and try out binaural beats tonight. Here are some examples which are likely to help you to relax and fall asleep.