Ever heard of binaural beats?
Did you know that an audio file – with binaural beats encoded, could help your mental state by just listening to it? Impossible to believe, right? They are the new go-to treatment plan for your brain health. It is referred to as a digital drug because it can be easily downloaded on your phone in an audio format.
What exactly are binaural beats? Binaural means ‘relating to the ears.’ It is an audio phenomenon consisting of two sound waves of different frequencies. These sound waves align in your brain by interference to produce a steady wave of small frequency. This short wave has been said to have numerous health effects on the human mental state.
How does it work?
Binaural beats work based on the fact that the human ears receive sound waves with a slight difference in frequency. One of the waves passes through the right ear and the other through the left ear, where they meet at the auditory cortex. They combine together to form a wave with a small frequency. For example, assume a sound wave having frequencies of 220 Hz and 230 Hz pass through your ears. They combine together to form a wave of 10 Hz (which is simply a difference between the two waves). The resulting wave is called a binaural beat.
The medical benefits of binaural beats were first discovered by Heinrich Wilheim Dove, a Russian meteorologist in the year 1839; hence the development of the brain entrainment technology.
How do binaural beats do?
Also known as auditory illusions, binaural beats are claimed to have a profound effect on the mental state. Patients with anxiety disorders have reportedly had significant improvements in their health after a binaural beat treatment.
It works through an advanced process called brain entrainment technology. It is an auditory-neurophysiologic technique that uses sound waves to influence brainwave activity, affecting the listener’s mental, physical and emotional state.
However, for a binaural beat to be effective, it must fall between a range of 1 to 30 Hz, and the two tones must have frequencies lesser than 1000 Hz. As both waves of different frequencies enter your ears, the brain begins to synchronize with the resulting binaural beat, hence, affecting mood and mental state.
It has been compared to meditation. Binaural beats between 1 to 30 Hz are said to have the same effect on the brain as meditation. A detailed analysis of the similarities between the effects of binaural beats and medication showed that they work the same way in the brain. They do this by providing the frequency that makes the brain function as if it is under meditation.
Both processes tend to influence the mind, but binaural beats work at a faster level and require less practice and dedication. With binaural beats, all you have to do is plug in the music and listen.
How do you use binaural beats?
Easy, all you need an audio player and an earpiece. A quick search through the internet would give you several options on where to download it from. There are several YouTube pages dedicated to churning out different types of binaural beats for free. Asides that, there are paid services on the internet. No wonder it is called a digital drug.
The kind of binaural beat you listen to depends on what you want from it. It has been categorized into the delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma range of frequency.
Binaural beats in the delta range (1 to 4 Hz), theta range (4 to 8 Hz), and the alpha range (8 to 14 Hz) are known to promote relaxation, enhances sleep, and reduce anxiety.
Those in the high-frequency beta range (14- 30 Hz) are said to enhance alertness, improved memory and concentration.
The positive effects of binaural beats
Are they right for you? Research has shown that they can be beneficial to mental health. A typical example is the story of a girl diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a disease characterized by excruciating pain on the face. According to her, adopting binaural beats in her daily routines helped to contain her condition. In the end, she was a lot better. There are several other positive effects of binaural beats. A couple of them are listed below;
- It causes a reduction of anxiety levels
- It has significant uses in pain management
- It lowers stress and increases relaxation
- It promotes creativity
- It fosters positive moods
- It causes an increment in focus and concentration
They can be beneficial to people coping with an anxiety disorder. The calming effects of this music have been instrumental to those dealing with anxiety, as shown in research carried out on people about to enter surgery. In the study, patients who were exposed to binaural beats embedded in music had their anxiety level was reduced by half.
For some people, it had significant effects on their sleep cycle-they slept better and were better rested. As a result, they were imbued with fresh energy for their day to day activities. For others, it enhanced their confidence and boosted their moods.
Asides from the health benefits, it can be used to tune musical instruments like the piano and organs.
Binaural beats keep you mentally fresh to go about your day to day activities
Are binaural beats scientifically proven to help?
There are a couple of controlled studies to prove whether or not binaural beats actually have any health benefits.
In 2005, binaural beats were being administered to some of the patients who were due for a general anesthesia procedure. Those who were treated with binaural beats had their preoperative anxiety reduced.
Another notable study on the binaural beat is a controlled study by the researchers of the National college of natural medicine in Oregon. Eight participants were subjected to delta binaural beat therapy for 60 days. The result showed positive effects on the mental state of all the participants.
Despite all these results, more study is needed to show that they are more than a panacea.
Are there any side effects of binaural beats?
As of now, there are no proven side effects of binaural beats. More extensive research would be needed to know if it has some adverse side effects. Nevertheless, they are relatively safe for most people.
However, like all other drugs, abuse of binaural beats can be dangerous.
Even though it is regarded as a magic cure, binaural beats remain sound waves. It can only be administered with headset- direct introduction of sounds in the ear. As a result, high volumes can be fatal. Overexposure to a high sound level can damage your hearing. As a standard, it is recommended that you shouldn’t listen to anything above 85 decibels. Prolonged exposure to sounds over 85 decibels can cause loss of hearing over time.
People with extreme health conditions should avoid binaural beats. It is a known fact that they can influence your state of mind by affecting your brain waves, the sudden change in brain waves might cause problems. Some of these medical conditions are;
- People using pacemakers
- Mental or psychological conditions
- Pregnant women- there are claims that it can stimulate labor
It is not recommended for under-aged people. Also, it might be dangerous to use it while driving or operating heavy machinery
Binaural beats can be useful for you. When properly used, it can significantly improve the quality of life of people. It promotes confidence, creativity, and concentration while lowering stress and negativity.
Even though it is still not fully recognized, it can be good for you.