How do Binaural Beats work?

how do binaural beats work
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Did you know last year one in every four people who lived in America experienced a form of insomnia? If you are you one of these individuals who have had trouble sleeping or falling asleep, be rest assured you are not alone. Luckily for you we may have found a solution - they call it Binaural Beats.  And it is easier to achieve than you think. In this article we explore how do binaural beats work and look at the science behind how these beats can send you off to the land of dreams. 


If you're just one of those people who just wants A SOLUTION and wants to get some much needed zzzZZ's (and who can blame you - sleep is important)!  Then check out our Step-by-Step guide on how to use Binaural Beats to sleep.

What is Binaural Beats?

Before we dive into the mechanics of binaural beats, we believe to appreciate the complexity of how binaural beats work; it is important to understand how our brain functions.

Your Wonderful Brain

Without going into a complex biology lesson, the main concept you need to understand is that your brain consists of a complex network of neurons that talk to one another. These neurons send messages along this network to different parts of the body. When they communicate they release small amounts of electricity. Scientists discovered that by measuring the rate that the electricity is being released (also known as the brainwave frequency), we can determine the different levels of alertness. The higher the brainwave frequency, the more alert and reactive a person is. The lower the frequency, the more relaxed an individual feels. 

Binaural Beats - Definition

Now consider this.

When your brain is presented with two different frequencies at the same time, it creates an imaginary tone to compensate for the differences in the tones. This is what we call a binaural beat.

For example, let's say you listen to a frequency in your right ear at 440 Hz, and you listen to a frequency of 400 Hz in your left ear. Your brain will automatically compensate for the difference and produce a binaural beat of 40 Hz.

Now we know how your brain works and what a binaural beat is. In the next section we look at how we can combine these two and begin to piece the puzzle together. 

So how do binaural beats work?

how binaural beats work

Back in the 19th century, a clever physicist called Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered that by altering the rate of our brainwave frequencies, we can alter the state of our mind and body. At high frequencies, our brain and body becomes alert and focused. Conversely, the lower our brainwave frequency, the more relaxed and receptive we are.

Let us continue our example from above and assume you are listening to an audio file with two different frequencies so your brain is producing a 40hz binaural beat. When your brain produces this binaural beat, your brain automatically syncs your brainwave frequency at a rate of 40hz.

Research has shown by manipulation the frequencies a person listens to, you can alter the binaural beat the individual's brain produces. If you want to achieve a more alert state of mind, you can listen to frequencies that are further apart (or higher binaural frequencies). Conversely, by changing the binaural beat to lower frequencies (frequencies that are closer together), you can move the mind and body into a relaxed state.

How do Binaural Beats work to get me to sleep?

Let's complete our 'How do Binaural Beats work?' puzzle.

A study conducted by Perlis and colleagues (1997) about the neurocognitive model of insomnia concluded that hyper-arousal (over-excitement) interferes with a person's ability to fall and stay asleep.

By listening to a low frequency binaural beat to induce your brain to mimic a low brainwave frequency. With the low frequency you can prime your body into a relaxed state. Placing your body into a relaxed state will reduce the likelihood of any exposure to hyper-arousal activity. More importantly, it will increase the chances of falling asleep quickly and staying asleep for a good night's rest.

Ready to get some much-needed rest? Check out our step-by-step guide how you can implement a binaural beats strategies for achieving a good night's rest.

What frequency is best?

Now you know how to change your mind and body's state by listening to binaural beats, how do you know what frequency is ideal?

Below is a table summarizing the ideal frequencies to achieve the different states of alertness.

Frequency Range



0.1 to 4 Hz

Best for deep sleep, pain relief and entering unconscious mind 


4 to 8 Hz

Best for REM Sleep, meditation and creativity


8 to 14 Hz

Best for stress reduction, positive thinking and sped up learning


14 to 30 Hz

Best for laser focused attention and high level thinking and problem solving


30 to 100 Hz

Best for high-level information processing and memory recall

Binaural Beats FAQ

binaural beats FAQ

Do binaural beats work without headphones?


The theory of binaural beats is that the brain is creating a new frequency to compensate for the difference in frequency ranges received by each ear. If you listened to an audio file without headphones/earphones, your ears will receive the same sound and frequency. As a result, your brain will not produce a binaural beat and it will not affect your brainwave frequency and/or state.

Can you over-use binaural beats?

There is no evidence to suggest there are any negative side-effects by using binaural beats too often.

In fact, some companies that produce binaural beat audio recommend you should listen to them every day to see any impact.

We don't subscribe to this theory and recommend using binaural beats on a needs basis. For example, if you are having trouble sleeping, try using a strategy with binaural beats. If you find it works, use it for a few days in a row and then try a night without.

Each individual will respond differently so we encourage a trial-and-error approach.

Sometimes I find the binaural beats do not have the same effect.

This can sometimes happen if you have been using the same binaural beats audio for an extended period.

Your brain is constantly adapting, and will become used to the binaural beat you are continually listening to.

To counter this dulled effect listen to a new track with a different binaural beat frequency. Once your brain hears this new track, you should experience the same effect as you did with the previous track.

NOTE - the best thing about this is that you will be able to cycle back to your first track once your brain has adapted to the new track.

I've tried binaural beats and I don't see any effects. Is there something wrong with me? 

There is nothing wrong with you or your brain.

Binaural beats work the same way as it does from one person to the next. It is possible you may not be experiencing any effects because you are expecting instant gratification.

It takes time for the effects to happen. Our advice is to put on the beats and continue on with the task at hand. Try not to anticipate for miracles to happen. Strangely, if you keep on expecting change, the less likely you are to notice or experience the change. 

We recommend reflecting on your experience AFTER you have finished the task. Think about how it felt to rest with the binaural beats playing. Did you find it easier to relax? Did sleep come easier? Were you less distracted by your surrounding environment?

Where can I find binaural beats audio files?

We have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to get started with binaural beats. If you are ready to explore the world of binaural beats and the benefits it can provide you CLICK HERE to continue.

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