Do Different Sound Waves Improve Brain Health?
Most of us are aware that sound creates a variety of emotions and responses. Sirens can cause us to feel anxious, alarmed, or alert. Listening to ocean waves can ease us into a relaxed state of calm. In fact, movies have been using music and entire sound catalogs to embellish our response to specific scenes.
One way sound impacts our brain is by creating different responses in our brainwave patterns. Brainwaves, or neural oscillations to be scientific, are patterns of neural activity in the central nervous system. These patterns are usually rhythmic or repetitive, and they occur at varied frequencies. This is essentially how neurons communicate with each other and depending on the frequency, impact our emotions, thoughts, and behavior.
We can measure these electrical impulses by using an electroencephalogram (EEG) which detects our brain waves in Hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Since soundwaves are also measured in Hz, studies have shown that sound creates different responses in our brainwaves.
There are five states of brainwave frequency, the lowest being the delta state. We are in delta during sleep and delta state is where we heal and regenerate, making the most of the restorative powers of sleep. When we wake up we move into theta frequency. We can reach theta state when we daydream or are in a deep state of meditation. From there we move to alpha, which is a resting state for the brain. The higher frequency states are beta and gamma, and this is where we are the most productive, are actively engaged and intensely focused, and are at our highest cognitive function and concentration.
Research is still being conducted on the different types of music and how they impact our brain waves. And while classical music has the known Mozart effect, there is a new area of sound with promising results. Binaural beats are a form of soundwave therapy that can be used to sync our brainwaves into the patterns and frequencies we want. Using headphones, binaural beats play two slightly different frequencies, one into each ear, which compels the brain to create a new sound at the frequency in between. This works to sync the brainwaves to that new frequency pattern, unlocking the ability to hone our focus or relax our mind.
Currently, there are a number of channels using binaural beats. We can choose to sync delta waves, helping us fall into deep, restorative sleep faster. Or alpha waves to help us study. We can also use alpha binaural beats to alleviate anxiety or tension. And if we really need to kick up our performance, we can find a program to stimulate our beta frequency, improving our productivity.
By understanding how to use sound and music to our advantage, we can use it as a valuable tool in our limitless toolkit. Whether we need to relax or elevate our performance, knowing how to sync our brainwaves will help us increase our productivity, learn faster, and sharpen our focus. And at the end of our day, knowing how to calm our brain and body will allow us to rest and recover quicker, so we can begin each day refreshed and ready to go.