What Are Binaural Beats?
As sophisticated as they may sound, binaural beats are nothing more than two different frequencies playing at the same time. With one frequency in each ear, the brain perceives them as a singular tone. Promoted by psychologists, researchers, and healthcare professionals alike, many claim these beats can improve working memory and long-term memory, as well as strengthen connections within the many networks of the brain.
The theory behind such an idea goes something like this: When a different tone is played in each ear, your brain will perceive an entirely new tone that’s essentially the difference between the two separate tones you hear. Your brain is “tuning” itself into a new frequency.
To accomplish this task, you’ll need a pair of headphones. If you start to play a binaural beat that sends a 280-hertz tone into your left ear and a 300-hertz tone into your right ear, your brain will naturally process and absorb a 10-hertz tone. While you won’t be able to hear this tone (10 hertz is so low that you can’t actually hear it), your brain will still be affected by it and benefit from the inaudible auditory beat.
Why is this exposure to sound waves that we can’t hear so beneficial? Science suggests exposure to binaural beats can create changes in our brain’s state of arousal. Listening to different tones that create a singular low-frequency tone will trigger our brain to transition into a state of slow-wave activity — the perfect state for relaxation — lowering anxiety and making it easier to both fall asleep and stay asleep.
How Binaural Beats Can Improve Sleep
Brain wave activity during your sleep state is different from brain wave activity when you’re awake. But as it turns out, lowering brain wave frequencies through binaural beats can also compel your body to alter three hormones that are associated with sleep and well-being: DHEA, cortisol, and melatonin.
DHEA is a master hormone of sorts that helps the body produce other hormones as needed. When we sleep, DHEA suppresses cortisol — the hormone that stimulates alertness and provokes stress when released by our body at elevated levels. By utilising binaural beats, we can actually increase DHEA levels, which will in turn regulate other hormones that could otherwise keep us awake.
Cortisol, on the other hand, tends to rise and fall with our circadian rhythm. These levels rise in the morning when we wake and fall at night as we sleep. If our cortisol levels are too high at night, it can render us unable to sleep — at which point, we may experience insomnia. Binaural beats have the ability to lower cortisol levels just in time for us to drift off to sleep.
Finally, melatonin is the hormone known for promoting and regulating sleep. Melatonin levels will rise dramatically in the evening as our body and mind wind down. Binaural beats can help our body increase melatonin levels to ensure we receive a full night of high-quality sleep. We can even use supplements of melatonin or magnesium to fully ensure our body is ready to get the sleep it needs.
As we can see, binaural beats are capable of more than simply lowering brain wave frequencies. They can help boost our sleep-promoting hormones as well.
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