What are Binaural Beats? Binaural beats are two tones of a slightly different pitch brought together. They are sounds, engineered in a way to effect your brainwave patterns. Played in unison, but through separate speakers, your brain perceives these tones and tries to reconcile the difference. In doing so, it makes you imagine that there’s a third tone. An auditory illusion, if you will.
What do binaural beats sound like? Well, can you ever remember hearing the sound of white noise? It’s very similar to that. Think of binaural beats as an auditory illusion. A form of soothing white noise to help you drown out all other noise around you to help you focus on what’s important.
How does it work? Well, the pitch of the imaginary third tone is equal to the difference in pitch between the two real tones—because your brain wants it to make sense, so is trying to make them match. For example, a binaural beat with pitches of 120 Hz. and 110 Hz. would make your brain think it can also hear a third tone at 10 Hz.
What are Binaural Beats Good For?
Binaural beats are scientifically proven to promote the following benefits:
- Heighten focus
- Improve creativity
- Increase relaxation,
- Enhance learning capacity
In listening to these two tones and producing a third, you actually change your brain’s activity. Isn’t that awesome? As you listen to binaural beats, your brain will eventually become in tune with the beat. That changes your chaotic mental state into an ordered one. This is called brainwave entrainment.
Types of Binaural Beats: The Big Five.
There are five types of binaural beats that help get you into a particular mental state. They are Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta beats. Each has its own frequency and corresponds to the mental states you naturally go into throughout the day. To make the most of each of the beats, pick the kind that works best for you at each moment in time. From highest frequency down to lowest frequency, here’s a brief explanation of the five types of binaural beats.
Frequency: > 30 Hz
Good for: Heightened perception, problem-solving, overcoming fear.
Gamma waves are involved in cognitive functions and processing tasks. They allow you to make better connections between stimulation and your senses. In other words, they amp up how you learn.
When you’re in a gamma wave state, your ability to process information is greatly improved. You’re much more likely to remember the year the French Revolution happened or how on earth to solve a tricky formula when you learn it in a gamma wave state. This makes gamma waves an ideal frequency for well and truly owning your study time.
Try not to listen to gamma waves for too long, though. Being too deep in the gamma wave state can cause anxiety and stress (which probably won’t help with your studying!).
Frequency: 14—30 Hz
Good for: Heightened perception, problem-solving, overcoming fear.
Beta waves are stimulating waves that are involved in logical thought. The beta wave state allows you to be highly focused on the task at hand.
By default, beta waves are the go-to productivity waves. You can use them throughout most of the day to get on top of any tasks that require focus, from that tricky work assignment or a project you’ve been putting off for your hardest class.
The only things to be careful of? Too much beta wave activity can cause anxiety, stress, and release of adrenaline (in other words, use it sparingly!)
Frequency: 7—14 Hz
Good for: Physical and mental relaxation.
Alpha waves are top dog when it comes to relaxation. Relieving stress and anxiety, they allow you to calm down and think clearly.
In times of stress, our brains shut down alpha waves and only produce beta activity. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed out, try listening to alpha wave binaural beats – they can remove your mental blocks and allow you to become more relaxed and productive.
Just don’t get TOO relaxed—being too deeply in the alpha wave state can cause daydreaming and lack of focus. Lovely if you’ve got the weekend to relax but not so great if you’re actually trying to get stuff done.
Frequency: 4—7 Hz
Good for: Deep meditation, light sleep, dreaming.
If you’re feeling a bit disconnected from yourself or having trouble letting your mind open to new ideas, theta waves might be able to help. They’re associated with daydreaming, falling asleep, and deep emotions, and listening to them while awake can put you into a near-hypnotic state. The awesome part is that they increase creativity, intuition, and a feeling of being in tune with yourself.
Just save them for times you really need them – too much theta wave activity can cause depression and impulsivity.
Frequency: 0.5—4 Hz
Good for: Deep sleep, loss of body awareness.
No dozing with delta – delta waves are typically only found while in deep sleep. Ever wondered why babies sleep so soundly? When we’re infants we normally produce heaps of delta waves – but this tends to decrease as we age.
If you’ve been having trouble sleeping properly or your body needs some R&R, delta waves promote the highest level of restoration, relaxation, and healing. Production of delta waves while sleeping can promote rejuvenating sleep that helps you wake up feeling great.
Perhaps try not to rely on them all the time, though—too much delta wave activity could cause an inability to think or learn properly.
Binaural Beats to Improve Productivity
Now that you get what binaural beats are, how on earth does that relate to productivity? Well, naturally, you’ll be more productive when listening to binaural beats because you’ll be in the flow state. Deeply focusing on something allows the flow state to occur. And a deep focus happens with a clear head. If you’re surrounded by distractions or overthinking things, it can be difficult to get into the flow state. Binaural beats help you overcome those distractions by altering your brain activity to improve your focus.
Productivity. It’s this magic word that employers and professors seem to think will solve all the world’s problems. And let’s be honest, in a way it kind of does. Think about it. Have you ever had those days where you just can’t seem to get anything done? Maybe there’s too much activity going on around you, or you just can’t seem to get “in the zone.” If we’re not being productive, then we’re not getting as much done as we could. Whether it be work, study, exercise, creative thinking…you name it! Productivity is about focus and utilizing your time more effectively in order to make things happen. Because, without productivity, the world’s (and your own) problems are pretty likely to remain unsolved.
If we’re not being productive, then we’re not getting as much done as we could. Whether it be work, study, exercise, creative thinking…you name it! Productivity is about focus and utilizing your time more effectively in order to make things happen. Because, without productivity, the world’s (and your own) problems are pretty likely to remain unsolved.
With so many distractions in the modern world, is it really surprizing that we struggle to keep focused (and therefore be productive?). The average millennial checks their phone 157 times a day, according to Facebook’s Head of Marketing Michelle Klein. One of the main reasons behind this is because of the learned habits of checking social media, email, and playing games. Not to mention all the other technological noise around us which has become so normal that we’ve become almost addicted to it!
To be more productive and counteract all the distractions it’s important to get into a state of flow. Being in a “flow state” isn’t so much about “going with the flow.” Instead, it’s when we drown out the noise and we exist completely in the present moment. Enter binaural beats. Not exactly what you think of when you think of beats (rappers and DJs probably won’t lay these kinds of beats down). Think of binaural beats as a simple, but effective, mind hack. This awesome, chilled out kind of beat allows the listener to temporarily forget about the outside world and focus completely on the present moment. Pretty cool when you consider how hard that can be!
See also: 7 of the Best Binaural Beats You Can Listen to for Free.
Making the Most of Binaural Beats
Binaural beats are great because they’re effective on two fronts.
- They can drown out distractions just like any white noise can.
- They have the ability to change your mental state.
In fact, the effects on your mental state are where the true potential of binaural beats come in. By listening to a specific beat, you can put yourself into the kind of mental state you really need to be productive and live life well. If you want to relax, listen to Alpha waves. If you want intense focus, put on the Beta waves. Whatever your need might be, it’s all about finding the right waves best for your situation.
To use binaural beats, first pick out your frequency. If you haven’t already, have a listen to each of the binaural beats above. Then, treat them like any other white noise and play them in the background. Rather than trying to focus on the sounds, just turn them on. Forget about them, and focus on what you need to focus on. Listen to them with or without headphones; they’re effective either way. Whatever device you use, have a think about which kind of waves will help you achieve what you’re wanting. With the right binaural beats, you should be well on your way to a more relaxed, focused state. How, then, can you not be productive?