Binaural beats are (at least in theory) quite simple.
Two slightly different tones are played, one into each ear, and your brain tunes in to the difference between the two frequencies.
The good news is that binaural beats (sometimes also called brainwave beats) work really fast – a typical session lasts between about 12 and 60 minutes and your brain adjusts early on in the session.
The trick is to make sure that the beats you’re listening to are correctly recorded and set to produce the frequency you want to achieve.
How long should your binaural beats session last?
Amongst other things, I use binaural beats to induce a meditative state.
When I first started using them, I used a system called Centerpointe (which is still being sold) and the sessions lasted 30 or 60 minutes. It works well but I found that I could rarely devote an hour to listening to the tracks. Plus progress through the levels would take years.
So I found the system I’m currently using – Zen12 meditation – which only takes 12 minutes each time I listen to it and gets through to the deepest meditation level in about a year. Much better in my view.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with listening for longer and there are some sleep audios out there that last for hours. Essentially the whole time you’re asleep, always assuming you don’t find the idea of having extra noise going on in the background disruptive to your sleep.
Personally, I prefer to play a meditation track just before going to sleep and let nature take its course.
Other people like to play themselves a sleep inducing binaural beats track and find that they rarely consciously hear the end of it because their brain has gone into sleep mode before it ends.
Do you need to wear headphones to benefit from binaural beats?
The quick answer to this is “yes”.
Because that’s how they’re designed to work.
Otherwise there would be crossover between the signals designed for each ear and your brain wouldn’t get the benefit of adjusting to the difference.
There are some tracks that are recorded with monaural beats – they’ve done the work of producing the desired frequency and recorded that difference. But there’s been less research on how well monaural beats work so, unless you haven’t got access to a set of headphones, I’d suggest keeping with binaural beats.
How long does it take your brain to get used to binaural beats?
This is a slightly different question to how fast these beats work.
Whilst your brain can reach the desired state quickly, how it deals with things when it gets there is slightly more complicated.
That’s why most binaural beats meditation programs have a series of levels that you gradually go through, going deeper into the meditative state with each level.
it’s a bit like training – you wouldn’t lift a giant weight or run your best ever marathon the first time you did it. It takes time for our body to adjust and that’s exactly the same with binaural beats.
For other things, where there’s only one “level” available, I’d generally suggest starting with the shorter session first and building up to a longer session. Pay attention to how you’re reacting and move on to listening more if you feel the need.
Can I listen to binaural beats anywhere?
This depends on what the beats are programmed to do.
If it’s sleep or relaxation then it would be sensible to only listen to them when you’re somewhere that it won’t matter if you fall asleep or get ultra-relaxed.
But if they’re designed to increase concentration or creativity then the scope for where you can listen to them is wider.
Use your judgement and, if you’re still not sure, wait until you can listen to them in a quiet place.
Ultimately, the best way to find out how well and how fast binaural beats work for you is to listen to one.
You can download a free binaural beats audio from this link to test it for yourself.