Polyphasic Sleep

Binaural Beats: Sleep and Meditation

By Alec Trembath

Meditation is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. Extensive studies have shown that regular practitioners of meditation can alter their brain waves and trigger the restorative properties of the parasympathetic nervous system. This has been shown to reduce recovery times from traumatic injuries. Hardcore practitioners can even undergo a trance-like state during surgeries and forego anesthetics. This high-level form of meditation takes years to master. But what if there was a shortcut? What if there was a quicker way to experience the benefits of meditation-induced brain wave alteration? Enter binaural beats.

What are Binaural Beats?

Binaural beats are an auditory illusion that occurs when two different frequencies of sound waves are played through two speakers. These frequencies have a difference of no more than 40 Hz. Our brains try to process the auditory information and it gives the listener perceives a third tone. This third tone is called a binaural beat.  The latest trend in binaural beats claims to be able to induce different brain waves associated with sleep and cognitive functions.

Every minute of every day our brains produce electrical signals. The type of brain wave our brains produce is dependent on our activity. During simple meditation sessions, our brains produce theta waves. These waves are the waves that occur when we are less focused on the outside world and turn our attention inwards. Some binaural beats target the frequency that theta waves occur, which is 4-7 Hz.  This allegedly allows the listener to enter this state of inward to focus much faster than trying to do it through standard meditation techniques such as focused breathing.

Other binaural beats target delta waves. These waves are produced by the brain during deep NREM sleep. Often referred to as slow-wave sleep. It has been proposed that during this SWS, the body physically rebuilds itself from the damage it may have experienced the previous day.

Maximize Sleep, Meditation, and More

Depending on what you are trying to achieve, there are dozens of things that binaural beats claim to help maximize. From healing DNA to achieving hands-free orgasms there is a niche for anything. So, the question is, do they actually work? There is very little scientific research on the topic. The research that does exist seems, in my opinion, inconclusive. However, those who use

Animation of person and the brain

Animation of person and the brain

binaural beats regularly for sleep and creativity claim that there is some merit in this “hacking” of the mind.

There are, however, plenty of skeptics who say that just because we are hearing certain frequencies doesn’t mean our brain waves will mimic them or be affected at all. What is certain is that the mind is a powerful thing. Even if there is no effect externally from the beats, a person usually achieves what they set out to obtain. If you want to relax, pleasant tones can help you relax. If you want to sleep,  slow frequencies of sound can help you sleep. At the very least, binaural beats act in the same way as white noise.

Have you tried any of the different types of binaural beats? Share your experience with others in the comments.