Music that promises better sleep, less stress
Binaural beats are being touted as a form of sound-wave therapy that helps reduce stress and anxiety, induce sleep, and enhance focus. While this might sound like hippy-dippy nonsense, the concept behind it is somewhat rooted in science — as long as you listen using headphones or earbuds, according to PopDust.
So how does it work? Binaural beats create an auditory illusion by playing on the difference between sound frequencies, as measured in Hertz (HZ). Binaural beat tracks will play slightly different Hz frequencies in each ear, hence the need for headphones or earbuds for the illusion to work. While people are capable of hearing sounds that vibrate at a frequency of anywhere from 20 to 20k Hz, binaural beats usually stay under 1k Hz, while the different sounds in each ear stay at most 30 Hz away from each other. When your brain is hit with two different frequencies at once, it attempts to create a unified version by synchronizing both into a new third sound that exists only in your head. Many believe this process results in a deep meditation of the brain.
Show us the science please: The musical form has had promising results when tested to relieve anxiety in emergency room patients or depressive symptoms in elderly residents of nursing homes. In the studies, the hospital patients reported less anxiety, while the latter study had more tangible results, with older people who listened to binaural beats found to have a lower heart rate, blood pressure, and heart rate variability. Many studies have been conducted to test the effectiveness of the audible therapy, and this journal article explores how and why binaural beats have an effect on the brain, testing its effect on creativity, mood, attention, and vigilance.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have its critics, with some researchers suggesting evidence of binaural beats’ benefits are slim, and faulting the existing research for its small sample sizes and unreplicable experiments. Discover Magazine highlights some examples where binaural beats actually reduced people’s accuracy when performing tasks.
Want to check it out anyway? Call it a placebo effect or a solution to busy work days, it can’t hurt to turn on some background music and see where it takes you. You can find musical creations for basically any purpose you need with a quick YouTube search, but here are some videos you can check out: positive energy, deep sleep, focus and energy, memory, and stress relief.