Do you have insomnia? Even mild insomnia can be crippling for some in our highly scheduled and busy world. One night of restless tossing and turning can wreak havoc on your productivity, stress, and anxiety for days. Most drugs leave you feeling groggy and tired the next day, and who really has time to vigorously work out every single day?
I have always been someone who has struggled with mild insomnia. I have many forms of therapy with variable success, but I want to highlight one technique in particular that has had a great balance between effectiveness on the positive and side effects on the negative.
The technique is called binaural beats. The only equipment necessary is a pair of headphones and a device capable of playing audio.
How it works
Binaural beats work by playing two slightly different frequencies into your ears (one frequency on the left, one on the right). Since the frequencies are so close, your brain will begin to focus energy on filling in the blanks and making it appear to be one uniform sound. During this process, your brain’s primary frequencies actually begin to imitate the sound it is trying to fill. If the target frequency is in the Theta stage (4-7Hz), this results inrelaxation and drowsiness over the course of about 20-30 minutes.
But is it safe?
Binaural beats were discovered in the 1800s and have had many studies. While your primary care physician is always the best for medical advice, published studies have produced no negative side effects. The biggest risk seems to be that some people just have no response to binaural beats for one reason or another.
But headphones in bed is uncomfortable!
Successfully wearing headphones in bed is the trickiest part of this process. Most regular users will use in-ear buds, but some people will just standard over-the-ear headphones and just take them off when they begin to feel drowsy. The second method is obviously less effective as you are still awake when you stop listening.
Does ambient background music affect binaural beats?
As long as the binaural beats are still loud enough to hear, and the music is not distracting or have a heavy rhythm of it’s own, it should not effect the result of the binaural beats.
Do I have to focus on the sound of the binaural beats or can I just space out?
It is more effective to heavily concentrate on the tones, especially early into the track. At 15-30 minutes, you will probably start being too relaxed and tired to be able to focus, so that’s fine.
What other benefits are there to using binaural beats for sleep?
In addition to the documented lower anxiety and overall higher quality of sleep you achieve, it appears that you can also use binaural beats to trigger Lucid Dreaming. Lucid Dreaming is a state where you are dreaming, butconsciouslyaware that you are dreaming and thus receive much greater control over your dream environment. The binaural beatslucid dreamingblogchroniclesa single case study of the most effective ways and tracks to acheive lucidity during the dream state.
Where do you obtain binaural beats tracks?
There are a number of free resources on the internet for basic binaural. One of the easiest places to find them is youtube. Many people have composed ambient music and laid it over the beats, making them much more palatable to listen to.
So in closing, binaural beats are showing promise as an alternative treatment for mild sleep troubles. They are also being studied for effectiveness in triggering and promoting lucid dreaming. I hope that if you suffer from sleepless nights and are sick of drugs and other invasive therapy methods, that you will give binaural beats a try. Start by doing a simple google search for free binaural beats tracks, and perhaps even purchase a cd or two to help support the artists who are making great ambient music.