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You may already incorporate some type of music into your bedtime routine to calm your mind as you prepare to sleep. You may not, however, be aware of binaural beats, which are created when you hear two tones at two different frequencies, each in a different ear. Your brain processes a beat at the difference of the frequencies, which is called an “auditory illusion.” Touted as inducing a calm like that which results from meditation, we wondered if the benefits live up to the hype.

Potential Health Benefits of Binaural Beats

The idea is that your brain activity matches the binaural beat, which is called the “frequency-following effect.” The stated goal is “to entrain your mind to reach a certain mental state.” If you’re listening to 440 Hz tone with your left ear and a 444 Hz tone with your right, the binaural beat would be the difference or a 4 Hz tone. In very simple terms, different brain waves are linked to different mental states: the lowest, Delta frequencies (1-4 Hz), are linked to deep sleep and meditation; Theta frequencies (4-8 Hz) to deep relaxation; Alpha frequencies (8-14 Hz) to focus and productivity; Beta frequencies (14-30 Hz) to analytical thinking and problem solving; and the highest, Gamma frequencies (>30 Hz), to increased cognitive ability.

Although there may be some small research that indicates the positive effects of daily listening to binaural beats for anxiety, memory, mood, creativity, and attention, larger studies need to be done. Binaural beats do not replace traditional treatments for mental health. Although it appears to be relatively safe, as long as it’s played at “safe listening levels,” some people have reported side effects like negative emotions so it may not be for everyone. If you would like to experiment with binaural beats to create a meditation practice or as part of your bedtime routine, follow these steps:

4 Steps to Relax to Binaural Beats

1. Gather Your Headphones and Music Source

You can use headphones or earbuds, but you’ll need to have something that transmits the different tones into each ear. If you remove one of the earbuds or simply play the recording in the room, you will not hear the binaural beats.

2. Download the Desired Audio Files

You can find downloadable binaural beats audio files online. You may want to experiment to find what you like. You’ll want to select one in the lower frequencies if your goal is to encourage sleep.

3. Find a Comfortable Location

Again, if your goal is relaxation or sleep, find a comfortable place to relax and listen. For the full effect, you’ll want to be somewhere quiet so outside noises don’t intrude.

4. Set Aside Some Time

One source suggests listening for a least 30 minutes a day “ensures that the rhythm is entrained (has fallen into synchronization) throughout the brain.” However, the length of the binaural beat tracks varies. You may want to experiment to see what works for you.

We’re always looking for tools to add to our bedtime ritual toolbox. Binaural beats are certainly worth checking out. If you've tried binaural beats for relaxation or sleep, DM us on Instagram (@downetc), and let us know how it worked for you. 

We wish you a relaxing way to find a great night’s sleep.

-The Team at Down Etc

Read more:

Breathwork for Better Sleep

Bedtime Rituals for Better Sleep


Photo by Thirdman from Pexels 

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