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What Are Binaural Beats And How Do They Work?

A man comfortably dozing on a couch while listening to binaural beats with headphones.

Perhaps you’ve already heard of binaural beats. Discovered in 1839 by Prussian scientist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, binaural beats became one of the first forms of brain entrainment. They’re said to enhance your cognition function on multiple levels, helping you with everything from restful sleep to intense study sessions, self-improvement and stress.

But what are binaural beats, exactly? How do they work, and what is the supporting evidence for their effectiveness?

This article explains all the key facts you need to know about this audio technology. As it turns out, it takes very little effort for you to use this fascinating, scientifically-proven technology to boost your health in a wide range of ways.

We’ll explore the benefits, address worries about their safety, and explain how they can be used to improve your life.

What Are Binaural Beats?

What Are Binaural Beats?

Firstly, note that the word “binaural” simply means “related to two ears.” As mentioned above, binaural beats are a form of brainwave entrainment, and they are a form of audio technology that combines two different types of sound frequencies (one in each ear).

This sounds like an individual, novel tone, but the theory is that your brain picks up on a single tone that sits between the two separate frequencies. For example, suppose your left ear receives a 190 Hz sound frequency and your right ear receives a 195 Hz frequency. In this case, your brain perceives a new 5 Hz sound frequency.

In a certain sense, then, your mind actually “tunes” itself into this newly encountered frequency, and this influences your brain's activity.

Why does this matter?

Because the state that your brain is in impacts on everything from your mood to your ability to make sense of information. What exactly happens to your brain when you use binaural beats depends on the frequency of the sound wave. This is explored later in this article.

Some tracks aim to help induce deep levels of sleep or improve your ability to meditate. Others are designed to make it easier to focus on studying or on a creative task, and yet more have a goal of reducing stress and anxiety.

Now that you understand the basic nature of binaural beats, let's take a closer look. They differ from isochronic tones and consider some of the most important evidence about their usefulness. Thereafter, we'll move on to focus on some of the specific benefits you can gain from using binaural beats. Plus, we'll offer advice for getting the best out of this audio technology.

What Are Isochronic Tones? Is There A Difference?

Now, what are isochronic tones, and how do they differ from binaural beats?

Unlike binaural beats, isochronic tones use just one tone that is quickly switched on and off. This creates a track made of repetitive beats that can be listened to with or without headphones.

Isochronic tones became popular in the early 1980s when Arturo Manns suggested they could have a simply impact on brainwaves. They are broadly similar to binaural beats in their functionality and efficacy, but many listeners prefer the sound of binaural beats.

How Do Binaural Beats Work?

How Do Binaural Beats Work?

Binaural beats capitalize on the way brain activity works. Your brain is filled with neuron cells that process and communicate information through a network. Whenever these neurons are active,

they produce a very small amount of electricity. This is the electricity that is picked up on an EEG when electrodes are placed on the head. The brain is constantly producing frequencies – brainwaves – and these have a close link to how we feel. In particular, when a brainwave frequency is low, we feel restful, calm and sleepy. Meanwhile, when a brainwave frequency is high, we feel focused and alert.

Binaural beats change your brainwaves, helping you get into the state that's most useful to you at the time.

To use binaural beats effectively, you need to listen to them on headphones so that the slightly different frequencies can be fed into your ears. The brain will only respond in the right way (producing a new frequency) if it hears the two different tones at exactly the same time (this is called a “frequency following response”).

Although it may not sound like it from the above description, they are very pleasant to listen to. For example, binaural beats music usually uses some soothing background sounds along with the two main frequencies, and most listeners say that results are extremely relaxing.

There's almost no limit to what you can use binaural beats to induce, whether you want to be calmer or more energetic.

There is also a rich tradition of using binaural beats in forms of spiritual practice. For example, they can be used in conjunction with manifestation techniques for using the Law of Attraction, for facilitating lucid dreaming, and for promoting chakra healing and Kundalini energy work.

Are Binaural Beats Scientifically Proven?

Are Binaural Beats Scientifically Proven?

At this point, you might be asking yourself “Do binaural beats work, really?”.

You might be wondering about the science is behind them and whether it stands up to scrutiny.

The apparent science of binaural beats revolves around influencing brain wave frequency. Those changes can impact on your physical and mental health. But is this theory well ground in evidence?

The good news is that brainwave entrainment science is increasingly sound. For example, one binaural beats study found that exposure to them can trigger changes in brain arousal level. This can slow down or increase brainwave activity.

In addition, there's a wealth of evidence going back thousands of years. Technology like binaural beats can be found in Ancient Greek and Chinese cultures.

Some of the latest binaural beats research is among the most exciting of discoveries out there. It also highlights which parts of the brain are most intimately involved in the effect of binaural beats.

An area of the brain called the superior olivary nucleus looks to be key, but investigations are ongoing. Meanwhile, a 2015 recent literature review of the major studies performed on binaural beats found intriguing results. With respect to a range of potential benefits, reviewers saw that anxiety levels affected. In particular, strongly influenced by listening to binaural beat tracks.

The 5 Brainwave Frequencies And States

As we explored above, when you listen to binaural beats it can prompt your brain to enter a different kind of state by changing your brainwave activity.

Different binaural beat tracks induce different brainwave states, each with their own specific bodily and mental reactions. This means that you can tailor your use of binaural beats to your specific needs and goals.

There are four major brainwave frequencies that you'll find in a brain wave frequency chart.

Here are all the key facts you need to know about each one, and about why you might want to target each of these brainwaves with binaural beats.

However, note that all of the benefits are associations described for each brainwave state are very general. As such, not every possible frequency within one given range will lead to exactly the same benefits.

Delta Brain Waves

Delta Brain Waves

Delta brain waves (0.1-4 Hz) promote deep, restful sleep.

In addition, they associated with sound healing, both physical and mental, as well as stress reduction (via lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol).

Delta brain wave benefits also include pain relief, as well as improved access to thoughts, feelings and intuitions in the unconscious mind.

Crucially, then, delta binaural beats can help you become relaxed and calm.

In general, the lower the frequency brainwaves are and the slower they are, the more you become relaxed.

Meanwhile, if you're sleeping, lower and slower brainwaves also make your sleep deeper and more restful.

Theta Brain Waves

Theta Brain Waves

Theta waves (4-8 Hz) are linked to the REM stage of sleep, as well as to profound relaxation. However, this is more conducive to reflection and wakefulness than the effects of delta waves.

When your brain is in a theta brain wave state, you’re likely to feel a deep sense of peace. Your creativity is also improved, and you’re more susceptible to hypnotic suggestion. Theta brain waves benefits can be enjoyed both asleep and awake.

To understand the impact of theta waves, think about how you feel when you're in the space between sleeping and waking. You are in a dreamlike state, but you're also able to think rationally. Although you may not able to remember all of your thoughts and feelings when you're fully awake. This is an example of being in a theta-dominant brain state.

Alpha Brain Waves

Alpha Brain Waves

Alpha brain waves (8-14 Hz) induce a relaxed sense of focus, making them especially conducive to working and studying. Further, they reduce overall stress levels and help you see your situation in a more positive light, promoting a sense of well-being.

Alpha waves promote faster learning and better memory retention. Plus, one of the biggest alpha brain waves benefits is their ability to put you into a “flow state” where engaging with tasks feels effortless.

If you want to be relaxed but you want to be able to think clearly and stay awake, alpha brain waves are conducive to meeting this goal. You'll be alert, but you'll also be reflective. For example, think about how you're feeling when you do yoga or meditation. This is a good example of what it's like to be in an alpha-dominant brain state.

Beta Brain Waves

Beta Brain Waves

Beta brain waves (14-30 Hz), like alpha waves, promote focused attention.

However, with beta waves this benefit is concentrated primarily on external stimuli. Further, beta waves help you engage with your higher-level cognitive faculties, boosting problem-solving skills and improving your ability to analyze information.

When your brain is in a beta wave state, you’re likely to feel a high level of energy and an urge to take action. Once you get into the higher levels of the beta frequency range, beta waves are linked to a degree of anxiety.

So, you want binaural beats to induce a beta-wave state that helps you think clearly and decisively without making you feel stressed about the object of your focus.

Gamma Brain Waves

Gamma Brain Waves

Finally, gamma brain waves (30-100 Hz) are associated with information processing on the highest levels.

Gamma waves induce a kind of cognitive enhancement, making your brain work even more quickly and comprehensively than usual. Gamma brain wave benefits also include improvements in memory recall, and they can facilitate a kind of transcendental state.

In other words, when you're in a gamma-dominant brain state you may feel very connected to your true self, to those around you and to the universe more in general.

Binaural beats that focus on gamma waves can enhance your empathy and help you think more positively.

Covered shortly in this article, this particular type of feeling can be extremely useful if you're also practicing manifestation techniques in order to harness the Law of Attraction.

Are Binaural Beats Safe To Use?

Are Binaural Beats Safe To Use

Since binaural beats have an impact on your brain and its function, it's natural to have some reservations about whether there may be any binaural beats side effects.

You may even wonder “Are binaural beats safe?”.

Happily, brainwave entrainment dangers are few and far between.

Since binaural beats are simply audio frequencies that activate and moderate certain brain waves, they're perfectly safe for most people to use in most circumstances.

Binaural beats is a very safe and effective technology that you can use, it is not recommended that it is listened to whilst driving or using machinery.

How To Use Binaural Beats

How To Use Binaural Beats

As noted above, it's absolutely vital to use headphones when you're working with binaural beats

This is what allows your brain to respond to the two distinct binaural frequencies in the right way.

If you're using binaural beats for the first time, follow this basic how-to guide. In order to set everything up correctly, make sure you follow this to get the most out of the experience.

  • Choose the right time. You'll want to use binaural beats when you have a desire or need to relax. To get rid of extraneous thoughts, or to stimulate creativity. In addition, it's effective to use them before the Law of Attraction work like saying affirmations or doing creative visualization.
  • Find a comfortable and quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Choose a time when you can give the binaural beats exercise your whole focus. For example, it's not a good idea to listen while traveling, or when you're trying to do a demanding task. The ideal scenario is sitting alone in a relaxing environment.
  • Either close your eyes, or focus on a relaxing object. For example, many people choose a candle or a crystal if they prefer to keep their eyes open. When you're just starting out, closing your eyes is often easier because it's less distracting.
  • Listen to the binaural beats for around half an hour. Your brain needs around 7-8 minutes to properly sync up with the audio track.
  • Repeat the binaural beats session frequently in order to increase your brain's responsiveness. The brain's stimulus will become accustomed to falling into the right kind of state.
  • Finally, play an active role! Binaural beats won't change you on their own, but they can make it easier to reach your goals.

What Are The Benefits Of Binaural Beats?

What Are The Benefits Of Binaural Beats?

As discussed throughout, binaural beats can provide you with a huge range of benefits depending on the frequencies you choose and on your own goals.

Firstly, note that they can be a great addition to your daily activities, as they can help you feel more relaxed.

Binaural beats for sleep are perfect when going to bed (to induce deeper sleep), while others can just help to reduce anxiety and stress during your everyday life.

Binaural beats meditation can also help you get to do a deeper state of relaxation than you would normally experience without the auditory stimulus.

Through binaural beats, healing and self-improvement can become much easier.

With enhanced focus and concentration, you'll find yourself with increased motivation and a greater drive to put all of your energy into the kind of life you want to lead. Similarly, you can induce the right brain waves for studying, leading to better information retention after a session.

Binaural beats also promote creativity and focus, so you can expect the best of yourself after you listen.

Many people also report enhanced mood after regular use of binaural beats.

You may feel like you have more control over your thoughts and feelings, and feel like you are living a more authentic life. This means that they are a helpful intervention no matter what your specific goals may be – every possible goal can be facilitated by a productive change in brain state.

Let’s take a closer look at the facts about some of the most significant benefits.

Binaural Beats For Sleep And Meditation

Binaural Beats For Sleep And Meditation

This is one of the main reasons why many people first discover binaural beats. People always ask how to relax your brain for sleep.

With the right sleep frequency, you can fall asleep more quickly. It can help you get into bed and also enjoy deeper, longer and better quality sleep.

Current research on binaural beats and sleep suggests that the benefits at least partly owe to a reduction in stress hormones and cortisol. Plus, more appropriate levels of DHEA and melatonin (the latter of which is especially vital for a healthy sleep cycle).

Relatedly, a reduction in stress hormones may be one of the key reasons why binaural beats help to induce and sustain meditative states.

Where it may otherwise take a long while to relax into meditation, under 10 minutes of listening to the right brainwave frequencies can coax your brain into the mindset required for a focused, restorative meditation session.

Binaural Beats For Stress Relief And Anxiety

Binaural Beats For Stress Relief And Anxiety

With binaural beats, anxiety can become much more manageable.

As noted above, this is one of the most fertile areas for research on binaural beats, with marked improvements seen in many listeners.

This is the case whether you're a mild, occasional suffer or have a chronic anxiety problem.

For example, one recent study found that patients about to undergo a major surgery were less anxious if they spent 30 minutes listening to binaural beats on the day of their surgery.

Compared to those who did not listen to binaural beats (but instead listened to a relaxing soundtrack or listened to nothing at all), the binaural beats group were markedly less anxious.

Your blood pressure can also lower when you listen to binaural beats. This can be related to a result of anxiety reduction and lowered cortisol levels. This boosts your overall health, reducing your risk of heart disease and strokes.

Binaural Beats For Studying, Concentration, And Focus

Binaural Beats For Studying, Concentration, And Focus

Brain entrainment music can also be extremely useful for people who are studying, especially if they want to retain information for an exam.

Scientists are currently investigating how binaural beats enhance focus, memory and creative thinking.

Scientists have also learned that both short and long-term memory is improved by the use of binaural beats. People are also better able to make connections between disparate bits of information after a binaural beats session.

There is also a growing body of evidence suggesting that attention improves in response to binaural beats, for longer studying.

One important factor here may be an increase in dopamine levels. Dopamine is a hormone that boosts creativity and can sharpen thinking. Plus, binaural beats can improve your study sessions just by making sure you're more rested.

Law Of Attraction Binaural Beats Hypnosis

Whether you're trying to manifest love, fitness, career or money, binaural beats can help you develop the kind of positive, open mindset that you need in order to make the Law of Attraction work for you.

In addition, it can get you into the right brain state to visualize your goals in intense, vivid colors. Creative visualization is key to the Law of Attraction work, and the more you refine those techniques the better you'll be at reshaping your reality.

Brainwave entrainment audio tracks are freely available and can make a huge difference.

Try our Creative Visualisation hypnosis track to get the most out of combining binaural beats with the Law of Attraction. Use this on a regular basis, you'll become increasingly skilled at visualizing your goals and manifesting them in the world.

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Katherine Hurst
By Katherine Hurst
Katherine Hurst, is a Law of Attraction expert, best-selling author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on psychology, life design, structured thinking and emotional wellbeing.

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