What are binaural beats?
When you hear two tones, one in each ear, that are slightly different in frequency, your brain processes a beat at the difference of the frequencies. This is called a binaural beat.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re listening to a sound in your left ear that’s at a frequency of 132 Hertz (Hz). And in your right ear, you’re listening to a sound that’s at a frequency of 121 Hz. Your brain, however, gradually falls into synchrony with the difference — or 11 Hz. Instead of hearing two different tones, you instead hear a tone at 11 Hz (in addition to the two tones given to each ear).
Binaural beats are considered auditory illusions. For a binaural beat to work, the two tones have to have frequencies less than 1000 Hz, and the difference between the two tones can’t be more than 30 Hz. The tones also have to be listened to separately, one through each ear. Binaural beats have been explored in music and are sometimes used to help tune instruments, such as pianos and organs. More recently, they have been connected to potential health benefits.
Advocates of this type of therapy currently recommend it for the treatment of anxiety, stress, and related disorders. This self-help treatment is usually available in the form of audio recordings that a person listens to on stereo headphones. However, research is inconclusive about the clinical benefits of binaural beat therapy, and a doctor does not oversee its delivery. Therefore, it is best not to replace traditional treatments for stress and anxiety with this type of intervention. Binaural beat therapy is not part of standard care for any condition. Doctors consider this treatment to be semi-experimental.
What is sleep meditation?
Have you ever felt yourself tossing and turning all night, unable to relax your mind and finally fall asleep? Meditation might be able to help.
Sleep meditation is a state between being awake and sleeping, where you put yourself in a ‘yodic sleep', essentially a state in which the body is completely relaxed but mentally aware. It is used as a relaxation method for the mind, body and soul.
What’s the difference between sleep meditation and normal sleep?
The difference between normal sleep and Yoga nidra (sleep meditation) is that during sleep, your subconscious mind takes over, whereas with Yoga Nidra, your conscious mind is awake and alert. Another key difference is that during sleep, your subconscious mind cannot leave behind your worries and stress, but during Yoga Nidra, your conscious mind can, making it a form of sleep therapy.
‘Yoga Nidra can also offer tools to induce sleep organically, following the workings of your own mind’, explained Yoga Nidra teacher, Jennifer Piercy.
How can I do sleep meditation?
It is common for people to practice sleep meditation with a guided audio track, usually using a 45-50-minute session CD.
6 steps to perform sleep meditation:
- Loosen up your body and settle down in a quite space.
- Make a resolution to get from this meditation time so you finish feeling satisfied.
- Your mind should visit all parts of your body helping to relax them slowly, making you aware of your body parts and how they function.
- Breathe slowly and through the nostrils only, this helps your body parts lose their sensitivity. You should feel light and relaxed.
- You must think about the positive emotions and happy memories.
- Visualize pleasing scenes to get rid of any leftover tensions that you may feel.
Is sleep meditation a substitute for sleep?
Sleep Meditation is not a substitute for sleep, they both have their own benefits. If sleep meditation is practiced right then it can enhance the quality of sleep you get.
How do binaural beats work?
The findings of a 2018 study suggest that listening to binaural beats for a recommended period can affect a person’s subsequent behavior and sleep cycles.
The study authors explain that there are five different categories of frequency pattern:
Delta pattern: Binaural beats in the delta pattern operate at a frequency of 0.5–4 Hz with links to a dreamless sleep. In the study, people who received a delta pattern frequency during sleep entered a deeper stage of sleep, according to electroencephalogram (EEG) brain scan results.
Theta pattern: Practitioners set binaural beats in the theta pattern to a frequency of 4–7 Hz. Theta patterns contribute to improved meditation, creativity, and sleep in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase.
Alpha pattern: Binaural beats in the alpha pattern are at a frequency of 7–13 Hz and may encourage relaxation.
Beta pattern: Binaural beats in the beta pattern are at a frequency of 13–30 Hz. This frequency range may help promote concentration and alertness. However, it can also increase anxiety at the higher end of the range.
Gamma pattern: This frequency pattern accounts for a range of 30–50 Hz. The study authors suggest that these frequencies promote maintenance of arousal while a person is awake.
How do you Use binaural beats?
All you need to experiment with binaural beats is a binaural beat audio and a pair of headphones or earbuds. You can easily find audio files of binaural beats online, such as on YouTube, or you can purchase CDs or download audio files directly to your mp3 player or other device. As mentioned earlier, for a binaural beat to work, the two tones have to have frequencies of less than 1000 Hz, and the difference between the two tones can’t be more than 30 Hz.
You’ll need to decide which brainwave fits your desired state. In general:
Binaural beats in the delta (1 to 4 Hz) range have been associated with deep sleep and relaxation.
Binaural beats in the theta (4 to 8 Hz) range are linked to REM sleep, reduced anxiety, relaxation, as well as meditative and creative states.
Binaural beats in the alpha frequencies (8 to 13 Hz) are thought to encourage relaxation, promote positivity, and decrease anxiety.
Binaural beats in the lower beta frequencies (14 to 30 Hz) have been linked to increased concentration and alertness, problem solving, and improved memory.
Find a comfortable place free of distractions. Simply listen to the binaural beat audio for at least 30 minutes each day in your headphones to make sure that the rhythm is entrained (has fallen into synchronization) throughout the brain.
You can experiment with the length of time you listen to the binaural beats to find out what works for you. For example, if you’re experiencing high levels of anxiety or stress, you may want to listen to the audio for a full hour or longer. Remember, you must use headphones for binaural beats to work. You may also want to listen with your eyes closed.
Is there any research to support the claims?
While most studies on the effects of binaural beats have been small, there are several that provide evidence that this auditory illusion does indeed have health benefits, especially related to anxiety, mood, and performance.
One blinded study in 29 people found that listening to binaural beats in the beta range (16 and 24 Hz) was associated with both improved performance on a given task as well as a reduction in negative moods compared to listening to binaural beats in the theta and delta (1.5 and 4 Hz) range or to simple white noise.
Another controlled study in roughly 100 people about to undergo surgery also found that binaural beats were able to significantly reduce pre-operative anxiety compared to similar audio without the binaural tones and no audio at all. In the study, anxiety levels were cut in half for people who listened to the binaural beat audio.
Another uncontrolled study asked eight adults to listen to a binaural beat CD with delta (1 to 4 Hz) beat frequencies for 60 days straight. The participants filled out surveys before and after the 60-day period that asked questions about their mood and quality of life. The results of the study found that listening to binaural beats for 60 days significantly reduced anxiety and increased the overall quality of life of these participants. Since the study was small, uncontrolled, and relied on patient surveys to collect data, larger studies will be needed to confirm these effects.
One larger and more recent randomized and controlled trial Trusted Source looked at the use of binaural beats in 291 patients admitted to the emergency department at a hospital. The researchers observed significant decreases in anxiety levels in patients exposed to audio with embedded binaural beats compared to those who listened to audio without binaural beats or no audio at all (headphones only).
Are there any side effects to listening to binaural beats?
There are no known side effects to listening to binaural beats, but you’ll want to make sure that the sound level coming through your headphones isn’t set too high. Lengthy exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss over time. This is roughly the level of noise produced by heavy traffic.
Binaural beat technology could be a problem if you have epilepsy, so you should speak to your doctor before trying it. More research is needed to see if there are any side effects to listening to binaural beats over a long period of time.
What health benefits are binaural beats claimed to have?
Binaural beats are claimed to induce the same mental state associated with a meditation practice, but much more quickly. In effect, binaural beats are said to:
- reduce anxiety
- increase focus and concentration
- lower stress
- increase relaxation
- foster positive moods
- promote creativity
- help manage pain
Meditation is the practice of calming the mind and tuning down the number of random thoughts that pass through it. A regular meditation practice has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, slow down the rate of brain aging and memory loss, promote emotional health, and lengthen attention span. Practicing meditation regularly can be quite difficult, so people have looked to technology for help.
Binaural beats between 1 and 30 Hz are alleged to create the same brainwave pattern that one would experience during meditation. When you listen to a sound with a certain frequency, your brain waves will synchronize with that frequency. The theory is that binaural beats can help create the frequency needed for your brain to create the same waves commonly experienced during a meditation practice. The use of binaural beats in this way is sometimes called brainwave entrainment technology.
The bottom line:
With several human studies to back up the health claims, binaural beats appear to be a promising tool in the fight against anxiety, stress, and negative mental states. Research has found that listening daily to CDs or audio files with binaural beats has positive effects on:
Becoming a master at meditation isn’t easy. Binaural beats won’t work for everyone, and they aren’t considered a cure for any particular condition. However, they might offer a perfect escape for those interested in relaxing, sleeping more peacefully, or entering a meditative state.
How binaural beats might improve sleep?
Brainwave activity during sleep is largely distinct from brain activity when you’re awake. (REM sleep is an exception: During REM, your brain is active in ways very much like when you’re awake.) During non-REM sleep, the slower, lower frequency theta and delta waves dominate, compared to the alpha and beta waves that are prominent when you’re alert and active.
A therapy that slows brainwave activity, helping to produce low-frequency waves, is likely to aid relaxation and sleep. But it’s not only lowering brainwave frequency that binaural beats may offer to sleep and relaxation. A small study (19 people) has found that exposure to binaural beats is associated with changes to three hormones important to sleep and well-being:
DHEA. DHEA functions as a kind of master hormone, helping to produce other hormones in the body on an as-needed basis. DHEA is critical to immune function and disease protection. Particularly significant for sleep is that DHEA works to suppress cortisol, a hormone that stimulates alertness and provokes stress at elevated levels. The study found that 68 percent of participants had increases to DHEA after using binaural beats.
Cortisol. Cortisol is an arousal hormone, stimulating alertness and attention. Cortisol levels rise and fall in connection to circadian rhythms—cortisol levels rise to their peak levels first thing in the morning, just in time for you to be active for the day. Too-high cortisol levels are associated with insomnia, as well as more time spent in light sleep, rather than deep sleep. The study found that 70 percent of participants experienced a reduction in cortisol after exposure to binaural beats.
Melatonin. Melatonin promotes and regulates sleep. Melatonin levels rise dramatically in the evening, and the hormone works to relax your body and mind, preparing you to fall asleep. The study found 73 percent of participants had higher levels of melatonin after using binaural beats. The average increase was more than 97 percent.
In addition to potentially boosting sleep-promoting hormones, binaural beats may also reduce our perceptions of pain. A 2017 study found that binaural beats used in combination with visual stimulation led to reductions in patients’ perception of acute pain. Other recent research showed binaural beats helped improve pain perception in patients with chronic pain.
This is good news on its own and also promising news for sleep. Pain often interferes with sleep (and poor sleep can make pain worse), so reducing pain is one effective way to improve sleep.
At the end binaural beats generally Improves your life as it reduces your stress, it reduces anxiety, improves our memory and mood. It also increases your creativity and lets you concentrate or lets you to seek attention towards what you want.