Binaural Beats: What Is It And How Does It Work?

August 30, 2015

More people are now looking at alternative methods when it comes to relaxation or to solve sleep issues. This has led to an increase in people seeking out various therapies or techniques that are directly related to these issues, but it is fair to say that there has been mixed success. One such method that may be of interest is using something called binaural beats, but the first thing that has to be addressed is to discover what exactly they are and how they can help.

What are binaural beats?

To begin with it is best to offer a brief explanation as to what binaural beats actually are as this is a term that you may not be familiar with. The easiest way to explain it is to get you to imagine two different sounds at two different frequencies with one being heard by each ear. What then happens is your brain will integrate the two frequencies and, in turn, produce a third sound, which is called a binaural beat. This third sound will have a frequency that matches the difference between the two initial sounds and this will then have an impact on your brain.

How does it work?

Even though only a brief summary has been mentioned above it is important to now look at how binaural beats actually work in the brain.

When the brain hears these two sounds at different frequencies and then produces that third sound, the brain waves will then increase by that same frequency. This increase will then alter your state of mind and can improve your mental state, but how it alters does depend on the frequency that has been created.

Where does this occur in the brain?

Neurologists believe that binaural beats occur in an area of the brain known as the superior olivary nucleus, which is located in the brain stem itself. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for identifying and understanding any auditory sounds with the binaural beat then being transmitted to the reticular formation resulting in changes to brain waves.

The brain wave frequencies affected by binaural beats.

There are four different brain waves that can be affected by binaural beats with these being Delta, Theta, Alpha, and Beta. Out of these four it is Delta that is at the lowest frequency, between 1 to 3 Hz, followed by Theta at 4 to 7 Hz, Alpha at 8 to 13 Hz, and finally Beta between 13 to 26 Hz.

Each of these brain waves plays a different role and are associated with different levels of consciousness. Delta waves are associated with deep sleep, whereas Theta waves are linked to both deep relaxation as well as increased learning. Alpha waves deal with alert relaxation and finally Beta waves are associated with both problem solving along with alert concentration. It should now be much clearer as to how these beats can then help us in a number of ways, but it is best to look at these ways individually to explain it better.

How can it help with sleep issues?

When it comes to sleep issues it is therefore best to create a binaural beat that results in a frequency of between 1 to 3 Hz since this is directly related to deep sleep.

By inducing Delta waves when trying to sleep it does then trick your brain into believing that you are in that deep sleep state. In order to get the best results you are advised to listen to binaural beats that gradually take you down through the Theta waves and then finally to Delta waves to replicate what your brain should be doing naturally. When this is achieved it will then lead to the person being able to sleep better.

How can binaural beats help you to relax?

For relaxation there are two types of waves that can benefit you. First, Theta waves do of course deal with deep relaxation, which is more to do with us falling asleep, while Alpha helps with alert relaxation and both do indeed make a difference. By encouraging these brain waves it is hoped that the brain can then enter the same kind of state as it does with meditation.

This particular state is of course well known for helping to lower stress and anxiety levels along with lowering blood pressure, but a problem with traditional meditation is that we often struggle to maintain focus in order to get into the correct state. Binaural beats allow our brain to enter that state in a shorter period of time allowing us to enjoy the benefits that come from being in a more relaxed state of mind.

Are there any side effects to be aware of?

When answering this question it is important to point out that the side effects mentioned here are not the negative ones that you associate with medication, but instead are positive ways in which binaural beats can benefit you. By looking at it from this angle you will quickly see that there are indeed a number of positive side effects due to the fact that it does help you to relax as well as sleep better.

Some of the key side effects to be aware of include: a reduction in your stress levels, improve your concentration, increase your IQ, improve your memory skills, reduce your anxiety, and some may even feel as if they have had some kind of spiritual or mental awakening.

Do people really benefit from this?

There are enough comments from people around the world that do indicate that they have felt a difference in their mental state thanks to binaural beats. Clearly it will not work for everyone, but there is never any guarantee with any method or technique so this is certainly no different. However, all of this has been backed by scientific studies on the brain and how these waves impact on our state of mind, so these beats can undoubtedly help a large percentage of people.

The conclusion.

If you are looking for a new way to solve that insomnia problem or would just like to relax, then binaural beats are certainly an interesting method that you may wish to try. The concept of simply listening to sounds to then improve your state of mind has been around for over 100 years and over that time it has helped countless numbers of people in various ways. All that is required is to listen to the correct sounds and have a pair of headphones and you can then hopefully look forward to the benefits that come from these beats.