I recently listened to a podcast by two heavy hitters in the health and fitness space where they discussed all things productivity related. Productivity in the sense of things we all do: office and computer work, exercise, and sleep.
These guys are always on the cutting edge of new technology and techniques to improve your personal output, so when they mentioned things like nicotine gum and binaural beats, I knew these were things I needed to try.
Nicotine has a stigma around it, rightfully so, from the decades of tobacco abuse that lead to this modern era of cancer we’re fighting. However, nicotine isn’t to blame and it really does work for mental focus and clarity. But that’s not what this article is about. Sorry! You’ll have to wait for me to expand on this one.
I can’t see nicotine gum exploding in the health and fitness space just because of the required education of the consumer. Binaural beats, on the other hand, could change the atmosphere of home offices, classrooms, and workout playlists everywhere.
First, let me explain what binaural beats are and their intended use.
Your brain’s communication system is composed of multiple types of neurons (messengers) that conduct themselves through electrical stimuli. Depending on your environment and mental state, these neurons are communicating to each other at certain intervals and speeds. We can then measure the speed of this communication through assigning brainwave activity to these corresponding speeds, using an EEG.
An electroencephalograph (EEG) is a device, much like an EKG/ECG, but the pads are placed around your head to read brain activity. From there it can read the rhythmic conversations between your brain’s neurons. You’ve likely seen EEG’s in the movies or commercials; this technology is nothing new.
Now, think of brainwaves as the natural rhythm, the ebb and flow, of these neurons synapsing and firing. The three primary brainwave types (speeds) can be categorized as follows:
- Delta Waves = when you’re in or near deep sleep
- Theta Waves = when you’re meditating/lucid dreaming/in a hypnotic state
- Alpha Waves = when you’re in a peaceful and comfortable state.
- Beta Waves = when you’re hyper-aware and focused
How it works
The idea behind binaural beats is to tap into this natural rhythm of your brain activity and influence it to produce the desired brain waves.
For example, you’ve just overslept and realized you’ll be lucky to arrive at work on time.
- Say you’re a person that just does not care about your work and being late doesn’t bother you a bit. You go straight from those delta sleep waves to your cool-as-a-cucumber alpha waves. When you arrive you can pop in some binaural beats to increase your neuronal firing and after 5-10 minutes, and you’ll be set for a productive day at work.
- You work the boss that is just looking for an excuse to fire you. Your brainwaves go from zero to one-hundred along with your cortisol and stress levels. Throw in some binaural beats operating slower than your current brainwave activity on the drive in, and you’ll arrive feeling much calmer and relaxed than had you listened to the usual talk radio.
Makes sense right? If you want your brain to increase its activity level so you can push through that term paper, the laundry list of busy work, emails, or even physical activities such as running and working out, have your brain focus on beats that create the desired brainwave frequency and your brain will adjust accordingly.
Research has always shown improved motivation and work output during exercise when music is involved; the right kind of music that is. Classical piano will not get the job done.
On the flip side, if you cannot get your brain to slow down when it’s already well past your bed time, listening to beats in the delta wave formation can significantly improve your time to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep if left playing overnight. This leads to an even more productive following day.
Where You Can Try It
Brain.fm is on the forefront of this movement and in my opinion, will likely own this space. They allow 7 free sessions of 30-minute intervals, as well as walk you through the science and research behind their product.
After your trials run out you can upgrade your plan for 12 months at $3.99/month. This also gives you free reign of everything else they offer like more tones and nature soundscapes, infinite run time, tracking your progress, and premium content.
One thing I love about Brain.fm is their educational aspect. For free on their website you can read all about how to Improve Your HRV with binaural beats, how-to manuals on using beats for sleep, relaxation, and focus, and access to their entire research library. They’re really onto something!
Another place you can try binaural beats for free is MyNoise.net. However, it’s a little more cumbersome. You first select a brainwave frequency you would like to listen to and then memorize how that affects the mixer.
Then you’re taken to a separate page where you can select the type of music or soundscape you’d like. Lastly, you must adjust the mixer to your memorized settings on the previous screen. I don’t have the patience for those kinds of things, but if you do – more power to you!
If the above two options do not work for you, you can always YouTube “binaural beats” plus your intended activity and see what ensues. Example: “binaural beats and sleep” yields an 8 hour sleep cycle that will lull you into the deepest sleep imaginable.
In closing, throwing in binaural beats this week has made me a believer and my time behind the computer much more productive.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. The least that could happen is you get some better sleep, find a calmer demeanor, and have a more focused workday. Enjoy!