Are binaural beats safe? Are they harmful in any way? What dangers should people be aware of when listening? In this post, we uncover the answers to these questions.
Are you a new listener or have you been listening to binaural beats already for quite some time? Have you noticed whether listening has had any effect on you? Positive or negative? Is it possible that, at some point, you may have had your doubts about its effectiveness and perhaps even it's potentially harmful effects? Questions like: Are binaural beats safe? Does it really work? and, how can I be safe when listening to binaural beats? May have already crossed your mind.
If these are the kind of questions you've been asking yourself, you're not the only one. I listen to binaural beats almost daily and have been doing so already for quite some time. So, I've also had my doubts about whether they're really effective. Particularly when I need to be focused and productive.
While I can't speak for everyone, for me, I do feel the benefits. But, in large part, that's probably because I follow a few simple guidelines that keep me safe and help me get the most out of each listening session. Guidelines which, I'll share with you here.
From my own experience, I'm aware that avid listeners tend to tout its benefits. Heath benefits such as to induce relaxation, deep sleep and improve overall well-being. And, performance benefits, such as to enhance the performance of our memory and cognition. While the list of benefits can go on, it's equally important to be aware of how listening to binaural beats might have its adverse effects on our health—both mentally and emotionally.
What are Binaural Beats?According to Pathways Editor, Frank Musiek Ph.D. Binaural Beats are:
"The dichotic presentation of two sinusoids with a small frequency difference produces a small perceptual fluctuation called a binaural beat."If that sounds confusing, think of binaural beats as two different frequencies of sounds engineered in a way to alter your brain activity.
See also: What are Binaural Beats? Listen Here to Find Out.
Are Binaural Beats Safe?In this post, highlighted are some of the most important research findings currently available. Findings which I hope will give you the answers you need to questions such as; Are binaural beats safe? Or, Are binaural beats good for me? Although some of the research found was written in Alien (at least to me), I've deciphered and shared it here in a way that's easy to understand. I've also included links to the information sources, should you want to read the studies yourself and explore further.
Potential Dangers of Binaural Beats
NIHLThroughout the currently available research, one of the most potentially damaging effects of listening to binaural beats, which frequently came up, is the risk of experiencing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). According to Pathways Editor Frank Musiek Ph.D., one of the dangers of listening to binaural beats is they can "put listeners at risk for noise-induced hearing loss." An auditory phenomenon which can be caused by extremely loud bursts of sound that either rupture the eardrum or damage bones in the middle part of the ear.
Noise-induced hearing loss can happen to anyone at any age and can be both temporary and permanent. Noise-induced Hearing Loss can be caused by sudden outbursts of sound, for example, a bang or an explosion. It can also be caused by loud sounds over a long period of time (e.g. being within close distance to an industrial grade concrete cutter).
Avoiding NIHLThe risk of rupturing an eardrum or doing some type of significant damage to our inner ear while listening to binaural beats is a plausible argument. But, in my opinion, simply exercising good common sense would go a long way. For instance, to avoid being at risk of NIHL, listen to binaural beats which don't have sudden impulses of loud sounds. Most of the binaural beats you come across should have very little to no sudden impulses of loud sounds.
Secondly, when listening to binaural beats, listen at a volume range between medium and low. Obviously, if you listen at a high volume for an extended period of time—the more you put yourself at risk of NIHL.
Fit for PurposeI mainly listen to binaural beats either when I need to focus and concentrate on something or, to help put me into a relaxed state. For both purposes, I find it to be counter-productive to be listening to binaural beats at a high volume level. It either becomes, overpowering or simply too distracting therefore making it a "detractor" as opposed to an "enhancer."
The point is, to get the most out of listening to binaural beats, find a frequency that works for you and suits its purpose. Secondly, listen with a pair of headphones and keep the volume between a mid-to-low level. Just because you like to listen to your music at a particular level doesn't mean it's also going to be the "right fit" for listening to binaural beats. So, play around with it and, when listening, adjust to a volume level that helps to both enhance and support what it is you're trying to achieve.
Are Binaural Beats Safe for Kids?Short answer: Generally, yes, binaural beats are safe for kids. But, to ensure the best safety, experts suggest following a few easy to follow guidelines to ensure kids are benefiting from listening to binaural beats in the best way possible.
Firstly, by "kids", I'm referring, particularly to children between 0-12 years of age. Between these ages, the brainwave frequencies of children typically oscillate in the Alpha and Theta brainwave cycles. Listening to binaural beats in these frequencies should, therefore, be safe for children to listen to. In addition, listening to these type of frequencies are best suited to aid with their learning and development.
Match FrequenciesBy matching the frequencies of the binaural beats and the natural state of the listener, it should help to enhance cognitive processing and support brain functioning. In addition to this, matching the frequencies should also help with minimizing the disruption of the child's natural brainwave patterns allowing them to develop and grow as they normally would. Bear in mind, however, that the suggestions provided are
Bear in mind, however, that the suggestions provided are guidelines only. As every child is different, I recommend introducing binaural beats to children slowly with short listening sessions. During the "introductory" phase, observe the child's behavior after each listen and evaluate whether the binaural beats are showing positive or negative effects.
Although, binaural beats are generally safe for children to listen to, follow the guidelines I've shared with you here. And, remember to be mindful of how it might be affecting your children.
See also: 7 of the Best Binaural Beats You Can Listen to for Free.
How to Stay Safe Listening to Binaural BeatsGenerally speaking, listening to binaural beats is safe to do. But, as I've highlighted here, there are a few certain things to keep in mind for particular cases. So, aside from exercising common sense to not blow your ears out from excessive listening at a high volume. In addition to listening to binaural beats (or any other type of soundwaves for that matter) which include significant impulses of sound that could potentially rupture your ears—you have nothing to worry about.
Besides from listening to Delta and Theta waves during rest and sleep, keep listening sessions of binaural beats to a few hours at most. In many cases, the effects of binaural beats tend to taper off after a few hours. Therefore, it's best to give yourself a break before your next listening session.
Follow the guidelines I've shared with you here and you should be fine listening to binaural beats. For instance, what you will discover below regarding listening to binaural beats safety only validate my initial theories and assumptions. Those assumptions simply being, listen in moderation and, to avoid excessive listening (i.e. hours and hours) daily.
Know anyone who's suffered from adverse effects of listening to binaural beats? Please tell us about it. I've yet to come across an actual anecdote of anyone being negatively affected. All stories backed with proof are welcome.