Ultimate Guide to Binaural Beats
What are binaural beats?
Binaural beats don’t technically refer to rhythm or beats. They are actually the measured change in your brain’s activity as you hear a sound with two different tones. To put it simply, it refers to your brain’s reaction to the difference in the tones.
It was first discovered by a physicist named Heinrich Wilhelm Dove in 1839. In his discovery, he found that when two signals with two different frequencies were presented to each ear, the brain is able to detect the variation in phases between those frequencies.
Take this as an example:
If a 90 Hz frequency is presented to your right ear and a 110 frequency is presented to your left ear, your brain will hear another frequency at 8Hz. This is the exact difference between those frequencies and that is called the binaural beat.
The beats work to balance your brain hemispheres. They also balance your energy and nervous system so you can unlock your full potential.
You see, when the brain’s hemispheres are synchronized, your brain cells are able to operate at their maximum capabilities. You’ll be able to focus more and achieve deeper relaxation.
These are the exact reasons why health professionals, like medical doctors and psychologists, use and integrate binaural tones to their patients’ treatment. The beats alter the levels of certain brain chemicals that are beneficial to your overall being.
How do binaural beats work?
By now, you’re probably wondering how all those things are possible with binaural beats.
It starts with brainwave entrainment.
The physiological process happens inside the brain. It starts with hearing two tones played at different frequencies. The tones are simultaneously presented to the right and left ear. As that happens, the brain experiences a third tone which is the difference of the first two frequencies.
As the frequencies are played, the brain follows that third frequency and creates brain waves at the same Hertz. This is technically called the “frequency following response”.
Take note that all of these things can only happen if you are presented with the sound frequencies through headphones.
For most cases, the best brainwave entrainment happens with the use of audio recordings. You can listen to soundscapes, like singing bowls, ambient music, forest streams or rainfalls.
Those recordings are created by embedding inaudible frequency pulses. It’s just that the sounds you hear make the pulses a lot more soothing and pleasant to hear.
The different brainwaves
There are 5 brainwave states that binaural beats can entrain the brain to. These states are affected and determined by the brainwave state your music is targeting.
For example, for deeper sleep, you should listen to Delta state music. If you are looking for relaxation, go with Theta state music.
To give you a clearer idea, here’s an in-depth look at the brainwaves.
30 Hz to 100 Hz
Gamma brainwaves are closely linked to really high-level information processing. They can enhance your memory recall and your cognition while allowing you to reach transcendental states.
Beta Brain Waves
14 Hz to 40 Hz
The Beta state is when you are active, alert and engaged in mental activities that require your brain’s left hemisphere to be rational, logical, and reality-oriented.
When the beta wave activity in your brain becomes more intense, you become anxious and stressed.
Because of that, you can think of beta waves closely linked to your body’s fight-or-flight response. It increases your alertness and concentration as well as boost your critical thinking and reasoning. It enhances the feeling of anxiety and causes insomnia, too.
Alpha Brain Waves
7.5 Hz to 14 Hz
When you are meditating, in deep relaxation, reading a book or driving an automatic car, you are in an Alpha state. It’s that state that connects your conscious mind to your subconscious mind. You can think of it as a state of hypnosis with the voice of your Alpha being your intuition. It becomes more profound as you become closer to 7.5 Hz.
Compared to the Beta brainwaves, the Alpha brainwaves increase your visualization, learning, imagination, and memory retention.
It also increases the feel-good chemicals in your brain, including norepinephrine, dopamine, and beta-endorphin. Those chemicals create this internal environment which allows you to welcome new learning and easily access previously learned skills.
Apart from that Alpha waves are closely linked to less anxiety, stress, chronic pain, worries, and overthinking.
3.5 Hz to 8 Hz
Theta brainwaves are great for your overall well-being. It produces a deeper spiritual connection which allows you to unite with the universe.
In this state, you’ll find it easier to see great inspiration and to experience more profound insight, vivid visualizations, and greater creativity. It’s where you are more open to reprogramming and changing old habits and patterns.
Theta waves are also closely linked to faster physical healing, better inner peace, more stable emotions, and calmer mind. They can release hormones that can promote better health as well as longevity.
0.1 Hz to 3.5 Hz
Delta brain waves are like drum beats. They are slow but loud. They are often created in deepest meditation and involuntary bodily functions. That includes your digestion as well as your heartbeat.
If there are adequate Delta brainwaves, you’ll feel completely rejuvenated when you wake up in the morning. You’ll experience really deep healing, relaxation, and connection with your subconscious mind. They can even allow you to develop a deeper empathy and compassion for other people.
Delta waves can also make you feel more relaxed with their ability to lower your cortisol level. They can help boost your immune system as well as heal physical injuries. They can also keep you feeling and looking young with its ability to release anti-aging hormones.
What Are Binaural Beats Used For?
With all those benefits, you’re probably wondering what binaural beats are actually used for. The list is actually long so let’s just stick to the most important applications of binaural beats.
Astral projections refer to an out-of-the-body experience. It emphasizes the existence of a soul that is separate from the physical body. Referred to as the “astral body”, it travels to astral planes and is considered to be a really powerful and mystifying form of OBE.
To use binaural beats for astral projections, you’ll need really high-quality beats that are created particularly for astral traveling. You can find tons of videos and beats on the internet and you won’t even have to pay for most of them.
To get started, make sure that you are using stereo headphones. Your brain needs to make sense of 2 different sounds or frequencies so you have to ensure that you’re listening through a stereo.
Remember to choose sounds with noises that can hide binaural beats. One good reason is that plain and bare binaural beats aren’t that easy to listen to.
Try listening to soft ambient noises to start. You can go with waterfalls or woodland noises.
When you’re listening to your sounds, make sure that you’re comfortable in your position and that there’s nothing sharp around you. Since it’s easy to fall into a trancelike state with such beats, the last thing you want to happen is to fall on anything sharp and dangerous.
Take note that although binaural beats can help you with astral projection, it doesn’t mean that the beats can do all the work. You’ll still have to follow your own technique and put effort into experiencing astral projections
Lucid dreaming is that phenomenon where you become aware that you are dreaming. With that awareness, you gain that ability to manipulate your dreams as well as the narrative, characters, and environment.
Binaural beats have long been used to induce and sustain lucid dreaming. With the beats, you’ll be able to experience increased quality of sleep as well as frequency of lucid dreams. Your stress and anxiety lower and you develop greater and better inner peace and calmness.
Binaural beats can also increase your endorphin levels. They are the hormones closely linked to happiness. When it comes to the meditation process, binaural beats can also help since it can allow you to reach deeper meditation levels.
The best way to use binaural beats for lucid dreaming is to pair it with the Wake Back To Bed Method or WBTB. In this method, you wake up after around 4 to 5 hours of sleep and stay awake for the next 30 to 60 minutes before sleeping again.
Listening to binaural beats allow you to increase your mental clarity right before going back to sleep.
Take note that this will only work if you listen to the beats after 4 or 5 hours of sleep. This is because lucid dreaming happens in the latter half of sleep. It’s when REM stage frequently happens.
Don’t use binaural beats at the beginning of the night. It’s when your body wants to go into really deep sleep where lucid dreaming won’t likely happen.
While you are listening to binaural beats, it’s important for you to pay close attention to your breathing. Focus on relaxing your body but don’t become so relaxed that you find yourself asleep.
Visualize what you want to attain from your lucid dreaming and think about what you want to experience. You can even include affirmations to make the experience a lot more memorable and intense.
This is probably one of the most common reasons why people show great interest in binaural beats. With a music’s vibration and frequency, one will be able to experience pain relief and healing.
While there are a lot of skeptics about music’s capability to relieve pain and alleviate symptoms, there are a handful of studies that support music’s role in healing.
For example, there’s this Harvard University’s study that attests to music’s ability to enhance a patient’s mental function, improve coordination and balance as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure after a heart attack.
As for pain relief, there’s a study that involved cataract surgery patients. Those patients who listened to music during surgery needed a lot less sedative than those who didn’t.
Now, the healing benefits of binaural beats aren’t limited to those conditions. They can also help address behavioral problems. They can even help increase immunity and end insomnia, stress, and anxiety.
Depression is becoming more and more common which is why there are now tons of medications created and marketed to treat the condition. Despite the prevalence of drugs for mental disorders, there are still more people turning to binaural beats to help them cope.
Binaural beats have this unique ability to change one’s brain wave pattern in a way that changes a negative mood to something positive. Ideally, you’d want to set a frequency between 4 to 7 Hz as that is the most optimal frequency range for your brain to enter a relaxed and meditative state.
Listening to binaural beats at that range for about five times a week for four weeks can dramatically reduce your level of anxiety.
Take note that the frequency must always be checked. Any mismatch can lead to potentially dangerous reverse effects.
It might sound odd but listening to binaural beats can really help you shed off your unwanted weight. Of course, you can’t expect your binaural beats to make you lighter on their own. You still have to do your part and work out regularly.
To use binaural beats for weight loss, the first thing you have to know is the right brainwave to target.
For example, if you want to be more intense with your routine, go with binaural beats that target Alpha waves. These waves can awaken your brain’s ability to train for new skills and get better at the existing ones you already know. As a result, training with Alpha waves can force your mind to enter a zone that’ll make you train and perform faster and easier.
For a better form, target Beta waves as they are closely associated with critical thinking and focus. They can keep you highly active, alert, and awake. You’ll be able to absorb as much information as possible if you train while listening to Beta waves.
Now, if you are feeling defeated and discouraged, listen to sounds that target Delta Waves. They have an effect on the automatic functions of your body organs, like breathing, heartbeat, and delivery of oxygen to your cells. These benefits will help you achieve your peak condition and allow you to perform at your best.
How to Make Binaural Beats More Effective
First off, don’t listen to binaural beats unless you’re somewhere free of distractions. Don’t do it when you are driving or doing anything that requires your full attention.
You’d want to listen to binaural beats when you need to clear your mind, relax, get creative or solve problems. You may also find that listening to binaural beats is also great when you’re doing visualizations and affirmations.
Apart from that, you should also try the following tips:
Give yourself enough time
Entraining your brain doesn’t happen in just seconds. In fact, it needs about 7 minutes to fall in sync with an auditory stimulus. To get the most out of the experience, try listening to at least 15 minutes.
You have the option to meditate by focusing on an object and keeping your eyes open or you can close your eyes and just focus on the music. You can experiment to see which one will work the best for you.
Use stereo headphones
Binaural relate to two ears. This means you have to introduce the sounds to both of your ears at the same time so that your brain can identify and perceive the difference in the frequencies well. That makes it essential that you wear headphones while listening to binaural beats.
What happens if you don’t wear one?
Well, the frequencies will just mix together as they fill your room. That will render the binaural beats useless and ineffective.
Now, before you start your session, make sure that you are using quality headphones. Pick one that won’t allow external noise to distract you as well as leak the sounds you are hearing outside. Ensure that it’s the right fit as well and that you are listening to sounds at the right volume.
Binaural beats offer tons of benefits but you won’t be able to achieve them just by listening. You have to do your part and work hard to create the changes you want to happen.
You won’t be able to get the most out of binaural beats if you aren’t comfortable. So, make sure that your room is at the right temperature and sit in your most comfortable chair. Change into more comfortable clothes and ensure that there are no distractions when you start your session.
Know the best time to listen
When do you use binaural beats?
The answer will depend on your purpose.
For example, if your aim is to use binaural beats to aid your meditation, then you can listen to your sound in the morning or at night. You can experiment which times of the day you’re most comfortable doing it.
As a suggestion, however, listen to binaural beats first thing in the morning. It’s easier to get into a deeper meditative state at that time.
For lucid dreaming, listen to the beats after a few hours of sleep and before getting back to bed. It works best with the Wake Back to Bed Method.
Are binaural beats dangerous?
In most cases, the answer is no. However, this doesn’t mean that binaural beats are completely free from danger or risks.
Seizure is one good example. The frequency following technique can create neurological impulses that can trigger seizures. This is why children aren’t advised to start using binaural beats as well. Their brains are still developing which can make them prone to having seizures later in life.
Just like how it can affect the impulses in the brain, the beats can also negatively affect the heart’s rhythm. This is why it isn’t recommended for people with heart problems and those who wear pacemakers.
Binaural beats can put you in a relaxed state. So, driving, operating machines, and carrying out tasks that require focus and attention aren’t recommended while listening to the sounds. It won’t just render the binaural beats useless but you’ll also compromise your safety.
Difference between binaural beats and isochronic tones
We’ve already discussed what binaural beats are, but what are isochronic tones?
They were first discovered in 1981 by Arturo Manns. They are a bit different from binaural beats in that there’s only one tone that’s switched on and off to create repetitive beats. They possess a bigger depth of modulation which causes the brain to react more strongly.
Isochronic tones are more effective as they create a stronger cortical evoked response in your brain. In addition to that, another great thing about the tones is that it enables you to increase or decrease the activity on one side of your brain.
Since isochronic tones don’t require two frequencies, there’s no need to use headphones. You can play them through speakers without decreasing their effectiveness.
Now you’re probably wondering, are isochronic tones a lot better than binaural beats?
The direct answer is no. Those two are really different because each of them has its own way of working and influencing the brain.
For example, isochronic tones are not that effective at entrainment once they reach lower than 4 Hz or the Delta state. This simply means that you can’t rely on them to address pain or even insomnia.
And you know what else?
Isochronic tones are a lot more annoying to listen to than binaural tones. And there’s no way for you to mask the beats.
You see, the beats and pulse need to be audible for you to experience the benefits.
As to which is really better, the answer will depend on you and what you want to get from the experience. If it’s concentration and IQ improvement you are looking for, you might favor isochronic tones more. If it’s meditation and relaxation, you might find binaural beats better.