Does your brain start chattering the second your head hits the pillow, keeping you up throughout the night? Are you struggling to focus during the day? Does it feel utterly impossible to clear your mind when you’re in need of a reset?
The good news is, there are endless apps out there that promise to help you rest, restore, and focus. And many of them tout the magical, brain-changing qualities of “binaural beats.” It’s one of the latest buzzwords in the realm of brain optimization. But buzzwords aside, do any of them actually deliver on their promises?
My team put them to the test, and of all the options in the App Store, only one delivered unmistakable results: Brain.fm promises to improve your focus in only 15 minutes…and the product delivers. But according to their website, their playlists have very little in common with binaural beats. So…we dug a little deeper. And when my team learned the truth about the science behind binaural beats, we were ALL surprised.
Music to my…Brain!
You’ve probably heard of binaural beats before. Chances are you’ve stumbled across a playlist on Spotify, or heard about it from your best Zen pal who’s into those kinda things.
But what exactly are they, and what do they claim to do?
Despite what Willy Wonka wants us to believe, a lot of folks out there think binaural beats are the best kind of brain candy. It’s true, at least to some extent. Our frontal lobes love to get a little funky. Whether we’re jamming to Mozart or Metallica, the right song makes our dendrites throw their own little dance party.
In fact, scientists have known for a long time (ahem, almost forever) that music can have profound effects on us brains. Scans show that music can do things like induce peak emotions, shift brain states, and even help manage pain.
If you’re thinking this sounds a little like drugs … you’re not too far off.
But should our synapses really be singing about the potential, or are the claims overstated?
The Binaural Basics
Fear not, Maestro. You don’t have to be a musical genius to understand this.
‘Binaural’ is a combination of two words: binary and aural. It means “pertaining to both ears.” In a nutshell, a binaural beat is born when two different frequencies are played — one in each ear. The brain’s processing magic splits the frequency difference and creates the auditory illusion of a new tone. Boom!
Now pull out your calculators, because it’s time for a little math.
Basically, to create this effect, tones must have frequencies of less than 1000 Hz (Hertz). In addition, the difference between the two original tones must be less than 40 Hz.
Keeping this in mind, let’s say your right ear hears one beat at 220 Hz and your left ear simultaneously hears another beat at 210 Hz. What your brain actually registers is a 10 Hz tone.
Frequencies fall into one of the five categories of brain waves (gamma, beta, alpha, theta, or delta). A 10Hz frequency produces alpha brain waves, which allow your brain to slip into a sweet, sweet state of relaxation.
Let the Binaural Beat Drop
Furthermore, using what we know about the different brain wave categories, research has begun to explore whether it’s possible to engineer beats that induce meditation-like states. Turns out, there’s a lot to be excited about.
Among other things, binaural beats are claimed to:
- Turn down the volume on anxiety
- Mellow out your stress response
- Promote focus and concentration
- Enhance creative thinking and problem-solving
- Foster positive moods
- Improve sleep quality
But the researchers over at Brain.fm weren’t 100% convinced…
How Does Brain.fm Differ from Binaural Beats?
The results from studies on binaural beats are contradictory. While there’s no conclusive evidence that binaural beats can induce these desired cognitive states, evidence does show that the direct modulation leveraged by Brain.fm is effective.
The research-backed “functional music” from our friends over at Brain.fm is also…real music! The proprietary and artistic features found in Brain.fm ensure that your listening experience will be an enjoyable one. Their playlists are driven by science and designed from the ground up to help you focus, relax, meditate, and sleep.
Their Deep Work playlist is a staple here at Brain HQ. We love their app so much, that we just HAD to get in touch with them. The Brain.fm humans were gracious enough to put together a special offer for The Your Pet Brain family. Just enter code yourpetbrain during checkout for 15% off the price of your monthly or yearly subscription!