I was at the World Sleep Congress in Vancouver in September 2019. At one of the sessions on new upcoming technologies to improve sleep, the presenter mentioned that there was some promising research on the use of Binaural beats to improve deep sleep.
I forgot about this until I saw an ad during my Youtube watching on a meditation app called “Synctuition”. Their tagline of only having to do 25 minutes of the Synctuition and it being equal to 4 hours of regular meditation got me – and I clicked it.
So I downloaded the app and have been using it every night for the last 4 weeks. I’m falling asleep quicker. My Resting Heart Rate, Readiness scores and deep sleep numbers on my OuraRing are improved. (check out my podcast on the OuraRing here) Sounds like something is working. So I did some research to find out if there is any scientific basis to this stuff.
What are Binaural Beats?
Binaural Beats is used to describe the sending of a particular frequency of auditory stimulation to the brain resulting in a “brain entrainment” to a specific frequency.
Our brains are constantly shifting between different frequencies from the Theta, Alpha, Beta and Gamma ranges. Each of these ranges correspond to a particular type of state of my mental function. For example Beta waves are more prominent in active cognitive processes and Theta is seen more in sleep states.
It has been known for some decades that an external stimulus of a frequency- auditory, visual or tactile will elicit a corresponding response in the brain. This entrainment of the brain to a particular frequency related to a stimulus can be predicted.
With Binaural Beats – the subject will receive the auditory stimulus via stereo headphones. Each ear will receive a different auditory frequency. The brain will attempt to make sense of these different frequencies and will ultimately entrain itself at a frequency equal to the difference between the 2 frequencies. For example, if the left ear is receiving a frequency at 580 Hz and the right ear a frequency at 540 Hz, the brain will begin to entrain at 40 Hz. This entrainment will cause a synchronicity of neural firings activating particular areas of the brain that normally do not fire together.
Synctuition using the gamma range (approximately 40 Hz) of frequencies to entrain the brain. Research have had some promising results with Gamma range frequencies in alzheimer’s dementia as well as promoting relaxation and decreasing stress. It is felt that the anxiety reducing effects are through parasympathetic activation.
It is felt that by activating neural networks across the right and left hemispheres, more and new neural pathways are being created. We know that the brain has plasticity and that “Neurons that fire together, wire together”.
The science is still young but Binaural Beats appear promising as a revolutionary way to improve your brain performance and health. Give it a try and send me know your thoughts to email@example.com.
Sanjeev Goel MD