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Brain Entrainment or Brainwave entrainment- sounds a little scary, but what is it really?
Well, brainwave entrainment refers to the ability of our brains to naturally sync to frequencies with auditory and visual external stimuli. In other words, brainwave entrainment synchronizes our brains to sound, vibration, or light. This phenomenon is called a frequency-following response.
These frequencies, measured in Hertz, can bring on different brainwave states. These states help with:
- focused attention
- deep sleep
Studies have also shown that these frequencies are highly effective in:
- reducing blood pressure,
- chronic pain.
For the purpose of this article, we will only be discussing two of the most popular audio entrainment techniques.
Binaural beats are used with headphones. What we hear in the headphones, a shallow oscillating sound, is actually two different tones. These tones are slightly different from each other. For example, we may have a tone of 220hz in the right ear and 200hz in the left ear, but what you are actually hearing is the difference between both frequencies, which would be 20hz – a tone beating at the rate of 20 times per second. This is what experts call a type of auditory illusion.
Isochronic tones are tones that are switched on and off very quickly. The speed in which the tone is switching on and off is measured in Hertz. Unlike binaural beats, Isochronic tones do not require headphones, but they may be used.
Some people claim that binaural beats are better than Isochronic tones for brain entrainment. However, we’ve found that there are advantages to listening to both.
For example, you do not need headphones to listen to Isochronic tones. The advantage to this is the freedom to move around, more comfort while listening, and the greater ability to be aware of external noises. The advantage of listening to binaural beats is that headphones help you block out external noises and allow you better relaxation or concentration depending on what frequency you are listening to. Also, some people prefer the softer oscillating sound of binaural beats to the stronger tones of Isochronic tones.
So now that you know what brain entrainment is and the differences between binaural beats and Isochronic tones, what is it that they can do for you? Well, studies have shown that a single session of brainwave entrainment can:
- help boost memory and attention,
- reduce stress and;
- reduce pain from headaches and migraines.
Studies have also found that people who use brainwave entrainment have:
- an increase in relaxation
- improved sleep
- and a reduction in stress
In one study by Dr. Vincent Giampapa, MD, who is the former president of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine, said that brain entrainment had a direct effect on three hormones that are important for our overall well being. These hormones are:
- Cortisol – a hormone in the adrenal glands that can impact our memories and learning. Doctors have already discovered that too much cortisol is bad for us.
- DHEA – also made by the adrenal glands, it helps to produce other hormones including testosterone and estrogen. It also helps in how we metabolize and store fat.
- Melatonin – made by the pineal gland in the brain this hormone helps control your daily sleep-wake cycles. Your circadian rhythm determines how much melatonin your pineal gland makes.
Furthermore, Dr. Giampapa found brain entrainment also aids in the production of serotonin, a hormone that can increase relaxation, help with pain, and it can help to boost the production of catecholamine, which act as neurotransmitters that are vital to memory and learning.
There have also been studies showing a reduction in anxiety and stress in subjects who use brainwave entrainment regularly.
Despite the fact that most mainstream doctors are not familiar with brain entrainment you should always consult with your doctor before listening. Brainwave entrainment should never take the place of your doctor’s prescribed treatment.