I think it’s important to understand the benefits and pros of binaural beats.
Binaural beats have been mentioned so many times in the lucid dreaming and sleep hacking space, but I don’t think the benefits are fully understood. It’s easy to label binaural beats as the ‘magic pill’, but that’s not quite the case. They have benefits, but probably not the ones you’re thinking of:
What are binaural beats
Binaural beats are a type of soundwave that you can listen to through stereo headphones that can have profound effects on your brainwave states.
The word ‘binaural’ comes from the latin literally meaning ‘involving both ears’. Your brainwaves operate in one of 5 brainwave states at any given time. These states are:
- Delta Waves (0.5-3 Hz) – These are deep, slow waves linked to sleep with no dreams (NREM sleep)
- Theta Waves (3-8 Hz) – This is the state you’re in when you meditate, lucid dream and deeply relax
- Alpha Waves (8-12 Hz) – This is one of the focused brainwave states linked to concentration, focus and cognitive function/higher level thinking
- Beta Waves (12-38 Hz) – Probably the MAIN brainwave state for focus concentration, cognitive function and higher level thinking
- Gamma Waves (38-100 Hz) – Not a very well understood brainwave state, but believed to be linked to spirituality, deep relaxation, your third eye and pineal gland and lucid dreaming etc
And through binaural beats, we’re able to actually practically DECIDE which of these brainwave states we want to be in at any one time. Very useful for doing almost anything, for example focusing, studying, sleeping better, lucid dreaming or anything else.
How do they work
Binaural beats work in a strange way. Imagine a tuning fork. It’s sort of the same thing, imagine hitting one tuning fork and then letting it vibrate next to another one.
After a few seconds the second tuning fork starts vibrating at the same frequency as the first one. It’s sort of the same thing with the binaural beats. By creating a ‘tone’ the beats are able to cause your brainwaves to start vibrating at a certain frequency over time.
It takes a bit longer than the tuning fork, usually about 10-40 minutes but it still happens reliably.
Now the tone is also different:
Binaural beats aren’t actually ONE tone, but two. By playing two slightly different frequencies (one in each ear) the effect is that your brain can’t properly perceive the two tones. So it ends up mixing them together and creating a ‘ghost tone’.
The ghost tone is a mixture of the two frequencies, and your brainwaves get ‘tuned’ to the DIFFERENCE between the two tones.
I hope you’re still following. So you can essentially tune your brainwaves to different frequencies by playing different binaural beats tracks. They all have slightly different effects as well, depending on the brainwave state they’re targeting.
Benefits of binaural beats
Now we’ll dive into the benefits of binaural beats, but bear in mind that these are not ALL of them. There are probably lots more. These are just the most common ones, and also the ones that have had studies done on them to validate the findings.
I’ll try and link to the studies wherever I can as well, for those who want to do some further reading. They’re not in any particular order either, because I can’t say that one benefit is any more important than another.
1: Reduces anxiety and stress
It’s been shown (1 – I’ll link to all the studies and references at the bottom of the post) that listening to Beta binaural beats can reduce stress and make users feel calmer and more relaxed. This feeling can be compounded by meditating as well, for about ten minutes a day.
I think reducing stress is a very important thing that we need to focus on as a society. It’s amazing how stressed we are, collectively. I’ve known people that have carried the stress of being late to work with them for about a week after the event!
We’re getting stressed and worrying about things that literally have no influence on our survival or wellbeing. But by worrying about them, we make the problem out of nothing, and cause our health to suffer.
2: Makes falling asleep easier
Falling asleep is hard enough as it is, but the stress of our modern day life makes it that much harder. I think there are a number of ways you can improve your sleep but binaural beats are looking like a great option.
They can help your brainwaves get into the right state for falling asleep quickly and deeply. The study for this (2) showed that listening to Theta binaural beats helped people fall asleep faster than they normally would have.
Again, we’re seeing this evidence of Theta waves being very important for our sleep and dream life, an effect that also occurs on lucid dreaming. You can induce or support lucid dreaming by listening to Theta waves during your WBTB techniques.
3: Can support lucid dreaming
Lucid dreaming can be induced and supported in a number of ways. Mainly you want to look for things that lengthen the REM sleep you have, and make dreams more vivid. These things can supplements like melatonin or other things.
However, you also want to try and stimulate your brain to be more aware and active during REM sleep. This can be done by listening to certain binaural beats tracks a the right time. I wrote a guide on listening to binaural beats to lucid dream, there’s lots of information there.
In terms of proof that they help support lucid dreaming, there’s actually not much research that’s been done on this. That doesn’t mean you should give up hope though. There’s studies that show they help you sleep better and can stimulate dreams however.
Try some binaural beats out and see what you think. Also if you’re considering trying them out, read our guide on how to use binaural beats properly because lots of people do it wrong, and essentially waste their time and money!
4: Improves/helps memory
It’s been shown (3) that some types of binaural beats can improve your working memory. That’s your ability to hold thoughts and ideas in your mind at any given time. This is important for remembering to do reality checks during a dream by the way!
It’s also been shown that (4) your LONG term memory can be improved, and you can recall things that you otherwise might struggle with by listening to BETA binaural beats while trying to recall something.
This can be particularly helpful if you’re trying to recall something that happened a long time ago and you need that extra bit of focus right now. Beta and Alpha waves are useful for short term memory, focus and studying!
Another great tool for improving memory is something like Vitamin B6 which has an almost instant effect on your memory (within a few days). This is something you can take very easily (do your own research however) and notice an improvement in your ability to remember your dreams (That’s a big post showing you how to remember more dreams in more detail) and other things.
5: Helps you focus on things
This going without saying and we’ve mentioned it a few times already. By listening to binaural beats in the Alpha and Beta range, you can improve your short and long term memory (5), focus and concentrate for longer and with more intensity, and clear your mind of noise.
This is very useful, especially when you combine this with something like a nootropic or a natural cognitive enhancer. The best nootropic we’ve tried (and I still use to this day) is Mind Lab Pro, which REALLY makes a difference to how long you’re able to focus on something for.
It’s so effective to strap on some binaural beats in the Beta range, take a nootropic like Mind Lab Pro and just WORK. You’d be amazed at how focused and driven you become. It’s like you become Bradley Cooper from the film Limitless.
6: Enhances mood and emotions
It’s been shown (6) that listening to about 10-15 minutes of Theta binaural beats can reduce tension, stress and make you feel better in general.
This study wasn’t as detailed or large as the others, but it’s certainly been backed up by LOTS of subjective reports from all around the world.
In fact most of these benefits of binaural beats have been claimed by thousands of people online (just search for them). The studies are often always behind because think about it, where’s the money?
Who would fund these studies?
And studies like these are expensive to hold as well, so it’s often not things like that they study. That being said there are still quite a few studies (and more are being done every year) showing the benefits of binaural beats and brainwave entrainment in general.
7: Helps you be more creative
Creativity is one of those things we all wish we had more of. Actually enhanced creativity is also one of the main benefits of lucid dreaming too!
It’s like health, time and money. It’s been shown in a few small studies (7) that certain binaural beats like ALPHA or GAMMA waves can enhance your creativity massively.
This is huge, and the implications of this are much bigger than just ‘a bit of extra creativity’. Think of the musicians, film directors and artists who can use binaural beats to create things in much higher capacity.
It’s been said that these types of binaural beats can literally encourage and stimulate divergent and out of the box thinking in the people that listen to them.
8: Could reduce pain
One little study showed (8) the potential for THETA binaural beats to reduce chronic pain in users! This is very interesting, and it’s also not the first time that it’s been thought we can affect or even control our pain and perception of pain with the mind.
A large portion of pain (especially chronic pain) is in the mind and can be manipulated to some degree. To see a study like this showing a direct effect, is very encouraging.
I’ve not seen lucid dreaming be able to treat chronic pain yet, (although I haven’t really looked or tried, it’s something that might be interesting to look into). I think however, there’s a big potential for us to master our minds in a much bigger way than we’ve been doing so far.
There’s huge untapped potential in each of us and this study is just a small step in the right direction for this. I think we’ll see more and more studies coming out just like this one. The thing is with things like this, it directly challenges and poses a threat to big companies selling drugs like painkillers.
9: Helps you meditate
This is an easy one to prove, and I’m surprised there haven’t been MUCH more studies done to show this. Here’s a study (9) showing that listening to Theta binaural beats can help you reach a deep state of relaxation and meditation within minutes of listening to binaural beats.
I’d like to see a study done on mind machines like the Kasina, because I’ve tried devices like this and been able to reach DEEP levels of meditation and relaxation within just 10 minutes or less. I think there’s going to be much more research done into this sort of thing in the near future.
This is one of those things that you can easily validate for yourself.
Simply meditate with NO binaural beats for ten minutes, then wait about an hour. Then meditate again while listening to Theta binaural beats, and you’ll see and feel the difference immediately.
10: Improves cognitive function and flexibility
This one excites me because the study (10) involves GAMMA binaural beats.
Gamma is the brainwaves state we don’t know much about, but this study shows that just listening to 2-3 minutes of gamma waves can increase cognitive flexibility and focus. Although this is only one study, it did involve about 40 people which is not a TINY amount of people to involve!
This is something I’d LOVE to see more about.
11: Helps you sleep better
This seems to be a fairly subjective study but you can read for yourself (11) about how listening to Theta waves helped people fall asleep faster and better. It’s unclear exactly how much better they slept, because it’s not clear how it was measured.
That being said, there are lots of subjective reports all over the internet about how Theta waves can help you fall asleep faster.
What I love about this one also is that you can test it! The best claims are the ones you can test yourself, in your own home. Not only that, but people report actually getting better quality sleep (a blog post I wrote about getting better sleep containing LOTS of tips you haven’t heard of).
So try and fall asleep while listening to deep theta binaural beats. I assure you, you’ll feel the difference. Especially if you’re listening to them through nice sleep phones and you’ve made your bed nice and cosy.
12: Can help you stay motivated
I wanted to throw this one in. I know there’s not really any research or any studies showing this, but it’s something I’ve noticed. I notice that when I listen to binaural beats for studying like Beta or Alpha, I’m A LOT more motivated to work and study.
This might be because they make it easier, or it might be just because I’m better able to study, I enjoy it more and therefore I’m more motivated to do it. Either way I feel like this has to be up here because for me, that’s a HUGE benefit of binaural beats that needs to be mentioned.
Try it yourself, do some work while listening to binaural beats in the Beta range which is in the 12-30HZ range. You’ll notice a big difference, trust me. I’ve linked to the best places to GET binaural beats at the bottom of this post, so scroll there if you’re excited!
Binaural beats side effects?
There aren’t really any side effects to speak of, when listening to binaurals. The only thing you need to be careful about is the things you would ALWAYS have to be aware of when listening to audio tracks.
Make sure you’re not playing them too loud. I always warn people about the volume when listening to brainwave entrainment, for one main reason:
The tracks often involve a pulsing beat or tone.
After a few minutes it’s very easy to FORGET how loud the track is because it doesn’t really change much. So if you play it and think ‘oh that’s loud’ turn it down THEN, before you get used to the volume and do some damage to your ears.
It’s also worth remembering that you’re often listening to binaural beats for a long time or while you’re doing other things, so it’s very easy to forget they’re on in the background, and therefore not worry about the volume.
Do yourself a favor and just be aware of the volume! It’s not funny to be deaf, so turn them down! They’ll still work by the way.
As for other side effects, there are some but they’re not the ones you might think. Read my post about the dangers of binaural beats if you want to learn more, but trust me, they’re not anything to worry about.
Are the effects proven?
Yes! Well, most of the benefits and effects are.
If you scroll to the bottom of just this post, you can see over 10 references to studies showing the effects and benefits are real. There are some more subjective benefits, but it’s the case for lots of things.
For the most part though, you just test them out yourself and notice the effects within minutes. I was skeptical at first as well, and even after reading the studies and research, I STILL didn’t think they could work.
Then I downloaded some I think Ennora were the first binaural beats I purchased, and since then I’ve been a big fan of them. The effects were felt instantly, and work every time as well.
How to listen to them properly
You’re probably reading this and thinking that binaural beats are amazing, and you’d be right. The thing is, there are lots of things people do wrong when listening to them. There’s a certain level of skill you need to listen to them properly.
Maybe skill is the wrong word, but there are certain ways to listen to binaural beats to get the MOST benefit. I wrote a HUGE blog post showing you the best ways to listen to binaural beats, I think you’ll love it.
The summary of the blog post is:
- Pick the right frequencies for what you’re trying to do
- Don’t listen to them while driving
- Don’t listen to them too loud
- ONLY use stereo headphones, or they won’t work!
- Purchase them from decent companies, the free youtube ones don’t work and you’re missing out on the proper experience
The best binaural beats
There are some common binaural beats you might want to consider. I’ve listed the most common ones here, you can either go to their website in a new tab, or read my review of them if I’ve written one:
- Binaural Beats Meditation (or read our review of them)
- Ennora (Or read our review)
- Iawake Technologies
- Unexplainable store (read our review of them here)
- Holosync (Or read our review!)
- HemiSync binaural beats
- BlissCoded Sound (or read our review of them)
- MP3 meditation club
- Deep zen meditation
More about binaural beats
I’ve written a few guides on how to use these, and how they can benefit you:
Studies and references used