Are you struggling with sleep, focus, feeling stressed or anxious, or wish you had a better memory? Basically are you human? Yeah me too (last time I checked). The latest mind hacking tool called binaural beats can actually help you with everything I mentioned above. What are binaural beats? They are sounds that affect your brain for the better. When I first heard about them, I was skeptical. But, I love body and mind hacking so I looked into it more and gave it a shot. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a better version of themselves, especially without drugs?
What Are Binaural Beats & How Do They Work
Binaural beats are a version of soundwave therapy. This just means sounds. I’m going to get a little technical but stay with me, I promise that I will make these scientific terms easy to understand.
The left and the right ear listen to sounds at two different frequencies but your mind thinks they are the same. The difference between the two frequencies is the “beat”. The frequencies also need to be lower than 1000 hertz (level of frequency) for the brain to detect the binaural beat.
Researchers believe that binaural beats activate certain systems in the brain. Not only that, but difference between the frequencies will actually give your brain different benefits. If you listen to a frequency in your left ear at 150 HZ and in the right ear you are listening at 159 HZ, the difference is 9 HZ. You brain makes up for this difference. So the frequency of your brain waves in this situation will be 9 HZ.
One way to compare this is how different drinks will give you different effects because your body processes them all differently. A coffee will make you awake and hyper, chamomile tea will relax you and make you sleepy, and we all know what a glass of wine will do. Instead of your stomach and liver break down your drinks, the brain is processing these sounds.
There are 5 different brain wave categories:
- Delta – Binaural beats in the delta pattern are at a frequency of between 0.1 and 3 Hz. This category is related to dreamless deep restorative sleep.
- Theta – This frequency is between 3 HZ and 8 HZ. Theta waves are related to your REM sleep (the stage where your mind dreams and processes data), meditation, alertness, and subconscious thinking
- Alpha – Alpha waves are between 8 HZ and 14 HZ. These waves are related to mental calculations and memory.
- Beta – Beta waves are between 14 HZ and 30 HZ. These waves are related to active complex problem solving, motor control, anxiety (this means that it increases anxiety), and judgement.
- Gamma – Gamma waves are between 30 HZ and 100 HZ. These waves are related to consciousness, self awareness, peak cognitive functioning, and even possibly spirituality.
Benefits of Using Binaural Beats
Okay so I know you didn’t click on this article because you wanted to learn about different brain wave frequencies. Let’s get into how you can actually get the benefits of binaural beats.
This is how I first got introduced to binaural beats. I have spent years researching and testing out different techniques to improve sleep. Because seriously, who doesn’t love the feeling of waking up refreshed after a great night’s sleep? Sleep is super important for our health. Improved sleep will lead to weight loss, reduced risk for diseases such as heart disease and stroke, improved brain function, and younger skin. To learn more about different techniques that I use for better sleep, check out this post.
I have used binaural beats and they knock me out and put me into a deep state of sleep. And, it’s not just me benefiting. In one study, participants who listened the binaural beats had significantly improved their quality of sleep. They listened to binaural beats between 2-8 HZ (delta and theta ranges) for 8 weeks. Which makes sense because both of those ranges are related to REM and deep sleep.
Evidence shows that you can hack your focus and cognitive performance by listening to binaural beats. The participants in this study listened to binaural beats in the gamma range. If you are looking to improve your focus, make a habit of listening to gamma binaural beats.
To improve your memory, there are two different binaural beats that you can listen to. If you are looking to improve your working memory, a study shows that binaural beats at 15 HZ (lower beta range) is the best choice. Working memory is a part of your short term memory. It allows you to process information, use it for reasoning, and make decisions based on this information.
If you are looking to improve your long term memory, you can also use beta frequency binaural beats. Binaural beats at 20 HZ were shown to improve long term memory. What is also interesting about this study was that theta frequency binaural beats negatively impact long term memory. So theta is great for sleep but not the best for your long term memory.
Stress & Anxiety
Another study showed that people with mild anxiety improved their symptoms by listening to binaural beats in the theta/delta range 5 times weekly for 4 weeks.
Lack of Motivation
The same sleep study that I mentioned above also showed to improve participants’ motivation as well. So, if you want to improve your motivation, stress levels, and quality of sleep at the same time, the delta and theta ranges are the best.
In one study, creativity was boosted by participants listening to alpha frequency beats. However, this was only the case for certain participants. Those who have low spontaneous eye blink rates (EBRs) benefited but those with high EBRs did not benefits from the binaural beats. This is probably due to the fact that people with high EBRs are more creative to begin with. If you think that you are on the lower end of the creative spectrum, give alpha beats a shot. If you are very artsy to begin with, they may not help you much.
Meditation can give you a lot of amazing health benefits. These benefits range from improved self control and physical health, to great happiness and reduced stress. Binaural beats can be used to improve the quality of a meditation practice. Theta frequency binaural beats at 6 HZ were seen to induce a meditative state in participants within 10 minutes of listening to the beats. This is one of the few situations where the impact was pretty immediate.
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Using Binaural Beats
To get the effects of binaural beats, you should listen to them for 15 to 30 minutes every day for several weeks. You should also use headphones because you don’t want outside noises to interfere with the waves. Also, don’t listen to these sounds when you need your full attention elsewhere (aka driving a car).
Make sure that you are listening to the correct frequency. As you can see, different frequency levels can cause different outcomes. I haven’t seen any studies about listening to multiple frequencies at the same time so I picked one area I where wanted to improve and stuck with that one type of frequency.
There have also been side effects experienced by some users. In one study, some participants had increased depression when listening to frequencies at 7 HZ which is the theta level. In another study, binaural beats at 0-4HZ (the delta range) caused increased anxiety in some participants.
I personally haven’t experienced any issues when listening to binaural beats, but with most things, everyone reacts differently. So I want you to have all the risks before starting something new.
Where to Find Them
I’ve found binaural beats on playlists on Spotify and on Amazon at reasonable prices. I know I have mentioned a lot of different frequency numbers and ranges but luckily, most binaural beats soundtracks will either mention what frequency category the track is or what area in your life it will improve (like sleep, focus, etc.).
Have any of you used binaural beats? Let me know your experience.
Disclaimer: Please consult a doctor before testing out binaural beats, especially if you have any neurological disorders.