How Do Binaural Beats Help You Sleep?
Before we get into Binaural Beats and Sleep, let's first talk about what binaural beats are.
Unless you are really up on the latest health trends or are a practicing Yogi, binaural beats may very well be a term new to your vocabulary.
So What Are Binaural Beats?
A binaural beat is an illusion created by the brain when you listen to two tones with slightly different frequencies at the same time.
Your brain interprets the two tones as a beat of its own. The two tones align with your brain waves to produce a beat with a different frequency. This frequency is the difference in hertz (Hz) between the frequencies of the two tones.
For example, if you are listening to a 440 Hz tone with your left ear and a 444 Hz tone with your right ear, you would be hearing a 4 Hz tone. When you listen to binaural beats, your brain activity matches the frequency set by the frequency of the beat. This is called the frequency-following effect. This means you can use binaural beats to entrain your mind to reach a certain mental state.
The superior olivary complex and binaural beats. Located in the brain stem, the superior olivary complex is the first part of the brain that processes sound input from both ears. The superior olivary complex synchronizes various activities of the many neurons in the brain. This complex responds when it hears two close frequencies and creates a binaural beat, which changes the brain waves. The synchronization of the neural activities across the brain is called entrainment.
Entrainment isn’t just related to binaural beats. It is a common part of brain function. According to some researchers, when you listen to certain binaural beats, they can increase the strength of certain brain waves. This can increase or hold back different brain functions that control thinking and feeling.
The 5 Types of Brain Waves That Affect Binaural Beats
Neurons in your brain use electrical signals to create thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. When neurons synchronize, this creates brain waves. Brain waves can be measured by a technique called electroencephalography (EEG). This technique involves electrodes put on the scalp to record electoral signals.
Brain waves can range from low frequency to high amplitude and high frequency to low amplitude. The brain waves create binaural beats. This leads to different mental states which affect the brain in different ways.
There are five different brain waves, but the one we are focused on for this article is Delta, which is the brainwave associated with Deep Sleep.
Delta: 1-4 Hz. Delta is the lowest frequency state, and it’s linked to:
1. Deep sleep
2. Healing and pain relief
4. Anti-aging: cortisol reduction/DHEA increase
5. Access to the unconscious mind
Listening to binaural beats consistently and regularly before going to sleep can train your brain to enter the wavelength you are targeting, in the case of sleep, Theta or Delta waves.
Research has shown that listening to low-frequency tones can trigger a slowdown in brain activity that will aid relaxation and sleep.
Bellabeats, which is our own binaural beats development designed specifically for the Bellatorra Sleep System, is a binaural beat programmed specifically to engage and prolong the Delta waves.
When each ear hears a Bellabeat at a slightly different frequency, your brain tries to compensate by creating the perception of a third sound. This creation of a third sound is caused by the same part of the brain that helps you determine the location of a sound. To hear the Bellabeat, you must have sound coming in each ear. If you take out one of your ears, you’ll no longer hear the Bellabeat beat.
When binaural beats, including Bellabeats, are sustained over a period of time, they can synchronize with your brain waves. As a result, Bellabeats, and other binaural beats, can alter your brain wave activity to a desired wavelength.
A study using binaural beats at a delta frequency of 3 Hz showed that these beats induced delta activity in the brain. As a result, the use of binaural beats lengthened stage three sleep. Stage three sleep is deep sleep and important for feeling refreshed in the morning. This stage 3 is the focus of the Bellatorra Sleep System.
Other small studies indicate the potential of binaural beats for better sleep. In study of soccer players listening to binaural beats ranging from 2 Hz to 8 Hz, players reported improved quality of sleep, less sleepiness, and increased ease of waking up. Binaural beats can also help reduce anxiety, which can then lead to improved sleep.