Can Binaural Beats Harm You?

Can Binaural Beats Harm You?Can Binaural Beats Harm you

If you have considered using binaural beats, it may have crossed your mind to ask the question – can binaural beats harm you?

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In this short article I will try to warn you of potential binaural beats side effects I have found from my own use of brainwave entrainment and research.

Many people who want to improve their mind consider using binaural beats – or some other form of brainwave entrainment – to boost their progress.

Personally, from my readings and experience as a user, I think binaural beats are extremely safe to use. They produce perfectly natural frequencies in our brains that we experience accidentally at various times in our day. They just produce them on purpose for a specified length of time.

That said, even though there is minimal risk of harm to you using binaural beats, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the technology responsibility. If you have any doubts over your health you should consult your doctor before listening to binaural beats or any form of brainwave entrainment.

Firstly, what are Binaural Beats?

Before we discuss whether binaural beats can harm you, I will briefly explain what they are and how they work. 

A binaural beat is created by playing two different tones into each ear, and the brain creates a third tone by perceiving the difference between the frequencies of the two tones. The wave in the brain that it produces will have a frequency equal to the difference between the two original tones.

For example, if you play a beat of 200 hz in one ear and a beat of 210 hz in the other ear, the brain will create a ‘virtual’ tone of the difference, namely 10 hz.

The tones are often masked by background music, so the beats aren’t too jarring to the brain.

Playing a different tone in each ear to create the effect explains why you must listen using a pair of headphones for binaural beats to create the third beat. 

Having our brain in a state that helps relaxation, for example, or focus, can be beneficial, but getting our brain waves to the appropriate frequency is often difficult.  

Consequently, binaural beats and other brainwave entrainment techniques are often used as relaxation aids to reduce stress and anxiety.  

They can also be used as a way to achieve focus if you need to study. Or as an aid to restful sleep if you struggle there.  

Of course, your brain needs to be running at a different hz frequency if you want to relax (alpha waves) than if you want to study (beta waves)!

Read more about the various brain wave frequencies here.

Who can binaural beats harm?

If you are considering a binaural beats program, you should firstly check any warnings from the producer of the program. Make sure you are not in any category of user that they recommend NOT to use the program.

The main danger in binaural beats is to those individuals that are prone to seizures, such as epileptics. The technology can cause a seizure in those who have epilepsy, or a related or similar condition. It’s very important, then, that people at risk do not use binaural beats.

Most of the programs I have used all specifically warn against use of binaural beats by the following:

  • Anyone who is epileptic, has a serious mental disorder or has brain injuries
  • Pregnant women
  • Anyone who wears a pacemaker, is prone to seizures, or is photosensitive (although this presumable refers to binaural beats combined with light therapies)
  • Anyone who is under the influence of medication or drugs
  • People under the age of 18 – there is an argument not to attempt to influence brains that are still developing with brainwave entrainment. It’s also possible
  • that a child may be an epileptic and not have discovered it yet

Practical situations where you shouldn’t listen to binaural beats

Don’t use brainwave entrainment any time you need to be alert

Many binaural beats sound files will put you into an extremely relaxed state and your focus may become relaxed and distracted. It’s therefore pretty obvious that you shouldn’t listen to binaural beats while doing anything that needs your undivided attention or you may come to harm. Never listen to them whilst driving or operating machinery or power tools etc.

Don’t listen at too loud a volume

Listening to anything – not just binaural beats – at too loud a volume can damage your hearing. So keep the volume at a level that you can hear the sound track effectively, and it blocks out outside sounds, but isn’t too loud.

Read my article on how to choose the best headphones for binaural beats for more info on the specifics of what you need.

Don’t listen for too long

It also makes sense that if you listen to consciousness altering binaural beats, you shouldn’t overdo it. Exactly how much is too much depends on the individual but you should just use common sense. Too much entrainment is probably counterproductive so keep your listening to no more than 1-2 hours per day, perhaps at 30 minute sessions with breaks. You could also take at least one full day per week where you do not listen to any entrainment.

Beware the binaural beats headache!

You should be aware that some users experience a slight headache when they first try binaural beats or other brainwave entrainment. It is generally assumed that this is caused by increased blood flow to the brain. It may also be caused by dehydration that you may suffer during entrainment so it may be wise to drink some water before each binaural beats session.

Binaural beats headaches, though, seem not to be a regular feature of listening to binaural beats, luckily. Many new users report that the headaches go away after a few sessions as your brain adapts to the heightened blood flow. I, certainly, have never experienced a headache while listening to binaural beats or any brainwave entrainment.

Perhaps if you do experience a headache but still want to try binaural beats, you should limit your sessions and see how that goes. Perhaps listen for 10 minutes for a few sessions, then slowly increase the time you listen if you do not experience any further headaches.

Don’t let listening harm your self esteem!

It’s important that you fully research binaural beats for yourself to determine whether listening to binaural beats would be right for you.

You should consider goals for your brainwave entrainment to check that it is something you believe they can deliver.

For instance, I have seen adverts for binaural beats to make you taller. I’ve read that listening to binaural beats can stimulate the production of growth hormone but I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to add a foot to your height!

How to deal with unwanted binaural beats side effects

So, although, most people will use binaural beats without any problems, some may experience unwanted side effects. The most likely danger of binaural beats is that you find you do not feel comfortable with any feelings of altered consciousness it gives you. Some relaxation binaural beats may make you feel drowsy and a bit out of sorts.

If that is the case, the best thing to do is to just wait until you return to feeling normal. Make sure you don’t drive, operate machinery, use power tools etc until you feel better.

Then, if you still want to persist with it, don’t use entrainment for a little while. When you do try it again, just limit your use to a few minutes, as described earlier. If you feel okay during a short session, then make the next one a bit longer and see how you are.

Can binaural beats harm you – Conclusion

Binaural beats are safe to useIn conclusion, overall, I do not think that binaural beats can harm you.

But just to reiterate: I am not a doctor and all my comments are based on research and personal experience.  You should satisfy yourself with your own research or medical advice before you use binaural beats.

On the other hand, the health benefits of Meditation are extremely well known and a major use of binaural beats is as an aid to Meditation practice.

So I think it’s well worth giving it a try.

Click here to see my favourite binaural beats Meditation program.

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