We all have our preferences when it comes to what we hear when we study, work, or sleep. Generally speaking, loud, disruptive noises are not great for focus. Soothing sounds or silence tend to help us work better. The power of a passing siren will disrupt our focus, but what about the music you’re listening to? What effect does it have on your brain?
It turns out, the music or sounds we listen to can make a big difference, and the right frequency can even help you study better, reduce stress, and improve focus.
What are Binaural Beats?
Binaural beats are a great way to harness the power of different sound frequencies. The word “binaural” comes from the word for two (bi) and aural (ear), which gives you a hint at its meaning: a different frequency of music, measured in hertz (Hz), is played into each ear, say 120 Hz in your right ear and 110 Hz in your left ear. Your brain interprets the two frequencies as a beat of its own, which can align with your brain waves.
Types of Brain Waves
There are five categories of brain waves: Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. Each brain wave is associated with a different kind of thinking or activity. For example, Delta waves are associated with deep sleep, healing, and meditation, while Alpha waves are associated with working memory and thought coordination. Gamma waves show promise in helping with increased cognitive flexibility, attention to detail, focus, divergent thinking (a marker of creativity), and more.
By listening to the right binaural beats, the idea is that you’ll be able to take advantage of the cognitive benefits associated with those frequencies.
How to Use Binaural Beats for Studying
Binaural beats are nothing new. Ancient cultures across the world have used things like steady, consistent drumbeats or chanting to elicit relaxation or inspire deep meditation.
Despite their ancient roots, binaural beats can help today’s students and professionals reduce anxiety, promote creativity, and improve the brain’s ability to create memories.
Binaural beats have been shown to significantly reduce anxiety in preoperative patients and to help alleviate symptoms from those who suffer from mild anxiety. With anxiety hitting higher and higher levels on the national level in recent years due to a host of reasons (after-effects of the Great Recession, student debt burdens, political or social stress, and so on), it’s important to utilize techniques that can reduce anxiety and stress. After all, when you’re less distracted by anxiety, you’ll be better able to focus on your work or studies.
According to Psychology Today, binaural beats can also be used to improve memory (both long-term and working memory) as well as help to strengthen your brain’s neurological connections. If you’ve ever studied for a final exam or prepared for an important presentation, you can likely understand the potential benefits of easier information recall. Binaural beats can help.
Binaural beats in the Gamma frequency (higher frequency beats) tend to show promise in helping with increased cognitive flexibility, attention to detail, focus, divergent thinking (a marker of creativity), and more. As a student or working professional, increased cognitive function might help; try listening to Gamma beats to help you solve a complicated problem or brainstorm new ideas.
Where to Find Binaural Beats
Ready to try using binaural beats to help reduce anxiety, improve creative thinking, or increase your cognitive function? You can find binaural beats for any frequency on YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Music. Just search “binaural beats theta” or whichever frequency you think will benefit, and you’ll find a host of options. Here are a few to get you started: