Did you know that you actually hear with your brain and not with your ears? Most of us have been taught from our childhood that our ears are responsible for our hearing capabilities. But that's not the full picture.
The reality is that your ears simply act as the delivery system. They collect sound signals from the outside environment and transmit them to the brain, where all the heavy lifting takes place. The brain filters out unwanted noise and makes a coherent message from the relevant sounds. Truly, the mechanism through which sound signals are interpreted is remarkable.
This is where binaural beats come in. It's highly likely that you've already heard about them. After all, they are the go-to method of sound wave therapy for most people these days. However, if you don't know what they are, let's dive right in.
What Are Binaural Beats?
In the simplest words, we can say that binaural beats are an illusion. And that illusion takes shape when you hear two different tones (with slightly different frequencies) at the same time. Let's take an example to understand this.
Let's say you hear a sound through your right ear that has a frequency of 132 Hertz (Hz). At the same time, let's say you hear a sound through your left ear that has a frequency of 121 Hz. Now, the brain does an interesting thing here. It processes a beat that is a difference between the two frequencies. In this case, you "hear" a sound that is at 11 Hz frequency.
There are some rules to creating binaural beats. According to research, to create a binaural beat, the two different tones that are used, need to be less than 1000 Hz in frequency. Also, the differences between these frequencies cannot be more than 30 Hz. And, as we discussed above, the two tones need to be listened to separately, one in each ear.
When you listen to a binaural beat, the brain's activity will match the frequency of the beat. Essentially, these beats can be used to entrain your brain to reach a certain level of activity. And this is exactly what draws people in from all walks of life. They discover and start listening to binaural beats to get their mind into a particular state so that they can address any physical or mental issue they have been facing.
But before we can understand how exactly binaural beats can help you, we need to understand the different states of your brain.
Understanding Brain Waves
Brainwaves are rhythmic or repetitive patterns of neural activity in the central nervous system. Your brain shifts from one state to another throughout the day depending on a whole host of factors. Also, for a long time, scientists have been aware of five different brainwaves. It's important to understand what these states are and what they entail, in order to understand how binaural beats can help.
i) Delta (0.5 - 4 Hz)
The delta state is linked to deep sleep, healing, anti-aging, and pain relief. This state is considered a low-frequency state.
ii) Theta (4-8 Hz)
The theta state is linked to REM sleep, deep relaxation, meditation, and creativity. This, too, is considered a low-frequency state.
iii) Alpha (8-13 Hz)
The alpha state is linked to stress reduction, positive thinking, fast learning, and relaxed focus. This state is considered a mid-range frequency.
iv) Beta (13-30 Hz)
The beta state is linked to cognitive thinking, focused attention, problem-solving, and an active state of mind. Like the alpha state, this is also considered a mid-range frequency.
v) Gamma (30 Hz and above)
The gamma state is linked to memory recall, peak awareness, high-level cognition. This state is considered a high-frequency state.
Benefits of Listening To Binaural Beats
Now comes the part why binaural beats are so popular, especially these days. There are many health benefits of listening to binaural beats regularly. And there is some research backing these benefits. Let's take a look at some of the most important ones.
1) Increased creativity and cognitive enhancement
In a study of 29 people, it was found that listening to binaural beats in the beta range, improved performance on a given task. It was also discovered that these beats reduced the negative moods of the participants. This is not surprising considering how the beta state is linked to an active state of mind wherein there is focused attention and problem-solving is heightened.
2) Reduces Anxiety
In another study, it was found that binaural beats are great at reducing anxiety levels. The study was conducted on patients who were about to undergo surgery. It was discovered that anxiety levels were cut in half for people who listened to the binaural beats. Naturally, stress reduction and relief from anxiety are two of the most common reasons why people adopt binaural beats in the first place.
3) Helps You Enter A Meditative State
Another benefit of these beats, which has not yet been supported by research, is that they can help you enter a meditative state. A lot of people claim that binaural beats take their meditation to a whole another level and they end up feeling much calmer, relaxed, and present.
4) Improves Sleep Quality
There is more research needed for this particular benefit. However, one study conducted on young elite soccer players found that they slept much better after listening to binaural beats for 8 days.
5) Improve focus and memory retention
Again, more research is needed to prove this benefit but those who listen to binaural beats while working swear that they are able to focus more and are able to retain much more than before. Students, job workers, musicians, writers, and other creatives have found it especially useful.
Sound wave therapy is catching on as a viable method to deal with modern problems relating to health and wellness. People are increasingly flocking to things like binaural beats, sound baths, solfeggio frequencies, tuning fork therapy, and so on, to enhance their well-being and quality of life.
Binaural beats are perhaps the number one on the list of sound therapy methods. That’s because they are so easy to access and incorporate into your daily life. Also, there is some solid research backing the many different benefits of these beats. What’s more, there is ongoing research trying to prove a whole host of other benefits. It’s no wonder that binaural beats have transformed so many lives and are poised to keep doing so.