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Binaural beats are becoming more and more common among those struggling with anxiety and trauma-related disorders. However, with the widespread use of binaural beats, there also have been many stereotypes about them.
Some people claim that binaural beats can have the same effect on your brain caused by actual medications. In fact, some have even referred to them as “digital drugs”.
With these types of triggering descriptions, the stereotypes around binaural beats have created some concern on the part parents, or teachers. Officials in some countries have even taken action towards the websites selling binaural auditory beats.
So, back to our question. Do binaural beats get you high? Or is that just what the people selling them (and the people against) them want us to believe? Let’s look further at this.
What Are Binaural Beats?
Binaural beats are auditory illusions designed to put your brain in a state of mind similar to when you’re meditating. They occur when one ear is subjected to a sound frequency different from the one applied to the second ear. Your brain then attempts to sync to the difference between the two frequencies.
In 1839, Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered binaural beats. They didn’t become popular until the late 20th century, based on claims that binaural beats could increase relaxation, creativity, and concentration.
The difference between the two frequencies applied to both of your ears is called a binaural beat. The tones’ frequency should be under 1500 Hz, and the difference between the two frequencies must be below 40 Hz.
For instance, if your right ear is subjected to a tone of 400 Hz frequency and your left ear is presented to a tone of frequency equals to 410 Hz, your brain will be entertained towards 10hz frequency. Using any external oscillation to influence states of consciousness are generally called brainwave entrainment.
Digital Drugs and Binaural Beats
Binaural beats are becoming common, and they’re even being sold as “Digital Drugs” on websites like I Doser.
In 2012, officials in the United Arab Emirates started freaking out over the widespread use of binaural beats among their youth. Deputy director of the Police Sciences Academy, started a campaign to warn people about the “danger” of binaural beats.
The reason for that is that they believed that binaural audios have the same effects on the brain caused by actual drugs. Using this same angle as a sales tool, the US company, I Doser, claims that their audios are supposed to simulate the effect of real-world experiences, including ones similar to using controlled substances.
I Doser is now banned from countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon. Binaural beats there are considered illegal.
But are they the same as “drugs”? To answer this question, you need to know the uses of binaural beats and their effects.
What Are Binaural Beats Used For?
Some benefits come with practicing brainwave entrainment therapy. It can help do the following:
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
- Increase the efficiency of allocating attention over time, which in return increases concentration levels.
- Improve your long-term memory.
- It can be a useful tool for meditation.
- Help you fall asleep and improve your sleep quality.
- Increase creativity levels.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Brainwave Entrainment therapy has been used for many years, as listening to binaural tapes helps reduce mild anxiety symptoms. In order to get the best results, binaural beats therapy is normally combined with conventional treatment.
Brainwave entrainment audio can be a helpful tool for those trying to practice meditation regularly. Binaural beats encourage brainwaves to synchronize with the frequency of the beat. This helps to put the mind in a meditative and relaxed state.
We’ll be talking about the different brainwaves later in the article.
Enhance Cognitive Abilities
Some students like to use binaural audio to enhance their performance during studying and their overall productivity. Studies proved that listening to binaural beats, specifically those of beta frequency, improves long-term memory.
Improving focusing levels is another reason for students to use binaural beats. Researchers believe that binaural auditory beats are convenient for enhancing learning.
It’s believed that gamma and beta beats lead to improved problem-solving, consciousness, and active concentration. They also enhance short term memory, anxious thinking, creativity levels, and motor functions.
Do Binaural Beats Help You Sleep?
As mentioned above, one of the benefits of binaural beats is that they can also help you fall asleep. Listening to audio with oscillations of specific frequencies slows down your brain waves activity. This enables you to relax and makes it easier for you to fall asleep.
It also improves the quality of your sleep. Listening to binaural audios of delta frequencies helps slow your brainwaves and induce much deeper NREM sleep (deep sleep).
Deep sleep is responsible for regulating neurotransmitters and hormones that control your thinking and emotions. So, improving your deep sleep may play a role in protecting you from mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
That’s beside the physical health benefits that come with improving your deep sleep quality. For more information about improving NREM sleep, check out my previous article, How to Improve Deep sleep.
How to Use Binaural Beats?
All you need is a pair of headphones or earbuds and your phone. You can easily find binaural beats online, such as on Youtube, or you can check out our playlist at Sonic Yogi.
Sit in a comfortable chair or even lay down in bed. Try to find a place free of any distractions. You might want to close your eyes to get into the mood.
Experiment with the length of time listening to the beats. We recommend 30 minutes daily. If you can’t do that every day, then we recommend three times a week to see results. After two weeks, you can increase your listening duration.
As mentioned earlier, to experience the effect of binaural beats, you need to subject your ears to tones different in frequencies. These tones have to be below 1500 Hz, and the difference between them should be below 40 Hz.
Each range of binaural beat frequencies affects your brain differently depending on the brainwaves you want to induce. Here’s a quick guide:
Beta waves represent the state of a strongly engaged mind. The beta waves frequency ranges from 14 Hz to 40 Hz.
Binaural audio with oscillations in the beta pattern operate at a frequency that ranges from 14 Hz to 30 Hz. This frequency range helps in improving concentration levels, alertness, problem-solving, and memory.
Alpha brain waves represent non-arousal. Their frequency ranges from 9 Hz to 14 Hz. Binaural beats in the alpha pattern help you relax after finishing a task and reduce anxiety.
Theta brainwaves have a frequency that ranges between 5 Hz and 8 Hz. Your mind in this pattern is relaxed and disengaged from the real world. You perform your tasks automatically without thinking.
Binaural audio with oscillations in this pattern induce an autonomous state of mind. This state of mind is a positive mental state. It helps with creativity and is a great state for meditation.
Delta brainwaves have a frequency that ranges from about 1.5 Hz to 4 Hz. You become in a delta pattern when you’re asleep and totally relaxed. Listening to binaural audios of this pattern helps with insomnia and anxiety.
Can Binaural Beats Get You High?
As mentioned above, exposure to binaural beats can have different effects on your brain, depending on the frequency and the targeted brain wave. The most common feeling you get while listening to binaural audio is a total feeling of relaxation and emptiness of mind.
Binaural audio with oscillations are proven to help get you into a meditative state to truly relax. You can mistake the feeling of relaxation and clearheadedness for feeling high if that’s what you’re convincing your brain with.
That being said, there is no scientific evidence behind the claims that binaural beats get you high. It’s believed that when people claim that they’re high off of binaural beats, it’s most likely caused by the placebo effect. It means that they’re unconsciously convincing themselves that they’re high.
The way websites like I Doser name their tracks and the way they advertise for them convince people that they’re doing drugs. But in reality, it’s just a way of entertainment, nothing more than that.
Are Binaural Beats Dangerous?
Binaural beats aren’t harmful and have no side effects. But there are some cases that binaural beats aren’t recommended for:
- Epilepsy patients.
- People with heart conditions who need pacemakers.
- Those who struggle with schizophrenia or any personality disorder should consult their health care professionals first.
- If you’re driving or carrying out a hard task that needs your full attention. You shouldn’t listen to binaural beats during those tasks, but any other time of the day is totally fine.
Be sure to check with you Doctor or health care provider, if you have any personal concerns, before using.
How Long Do the Effects of Binaural Beats Last?
This is kind of similar to meditation. After a good meditation session, you feel calm, present, and recentered. You carry this positive state of mind with you everywhere.
Something might throw you off, of course. But in the long term, and with practice, you learn to control your emotions and adopt the state of mind that comes with meditation and binaural beats therapy. It’s all about practice and the right mentality.
To Wrap Up
Listening to binaural beats is a great way to wind down and relax. Their benefits are backed up with several studies now. I believe that binaural beats combined with meditation, diet, and working out are a very useful tool in your self-care tool kit.
They’re not digital drugs or anything of that matter. In fact, they’re the exact opposite. Which is why I don’t like seeing the stereotyping around the use of brainwave entrainment. Unfortunately, that frequently happens when something new gets introduced to the world.
If you’re interested in including binaural beats and sound therapy into your day, check these tracks from Sonic Yogi.
Subscribe to SonicYogi.com for timed meditations, meditation courses, and sleep tracks.