Binaural Beats Experimentation

For the last few days, I’ve been running a few tests on myself as part of an effort to cure my chronic insomnia. For the last few months or so, the insomnia has gotten quite bad to the point that I’ve spent a day or two without any sleep at all and spent the day immediately afterward in what seemed like perpetual aggravation. I’m not sure of the efficacy of binaural beats as there are many conflicting sources all over the place so I started off doing some tests on myself to see if they work.

Preparation

I tried testing a couple of headphones first. My trusty JVC HA-RX300 which I’ve had for years and take everywhere and a new set, a Sennheiser HD280 Pro.

I have a tiny head (contrary to what I’ve been told repeatedly) and the HD280 felt a tad too big, but it produced the best range of sound so far. The RX300 seemed to struggle with the lower frequencies and I often had to increase the volume to the point distortions began to appear.

In my search for binaural tracks, I came across a vast swath of very shrill and harsh samples that I felt were the wrong fit for me. Plus some of them gave me a pretty severe headache after a couple of minutes of listening. Some even gave me a nauseous feeling and that’s definitely a sleep killer. I figured I’d write myself (and anyone else listening) a little disclaimer before going about this.

When listening, please ensure the volume starts low as high levels may cause permanent damage to your hearing. Use a pair of good quality headphones (circumaural, noise-cancelling preferred) which can reproduce frequency responses between at least 25Hz – 10,000Hz and that are light and fit comfortably.

Do not engage in intensive exercises immediately following a listening session.

If any dizziness, light-headed sensation or nauseous feeling were to occur, stop listening immediately, take a sip of cool water and lay down.

This track is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat any illness or physiological or psychological condition.

Now I just needed to create those tracks.

Binaural selection

Rather than creating one track and hoping for the best, I tried creating a selection starting with the lowest frequency I’m comfortable with. According to Wikipedia, the human hearing range starts at 20Hz so I decided to create a base frequency binaural track at 30Hz (to accommodate us mere mortals before catering to the superhuman).

The 30Hz track was OK at first, but that too became uncomfortable at the 5 minute mark. I think maybe the volume was a bit too high for me at the time, but it soon felt like someone was squeezing my head. I then went on to 50Hz, 70Hz, 90Hz and finally 110Hz. The 110Hz turned out to be more comfortable than the rest, but your experience may differ. Considering I haven’t figured out the correct volume yet and the HD280 hasn’t been “broken in” (audiophiles and detractors, please hold your flaming) I’ll need to experiment more.

I wanted to create a pure tonal track of at least 2 hours to start off. I felt 2 hours was the upper limit in duration to preserve my hearing and sanity. Your experience may vary considerably depending on the volume, the headset, the ambiance of your listening room, the amount of fluids you’ve had etc… Try to start slowly if you intend to follow along in these experiments with me.

I intend to try out non traditional approaches to this whole binaural thing and may go with alternating (left to right sweep) white noise to approach the mythical 1/2Hz Goldilocks Zone of “sensory resonance” if that has any benefit at all. Who knows, this kind of experimentation may become a new hobby. I’ll keep adding to this playlist as the experimentation goes on.

6 thoughts on “Binaural Beats Experimentation

  1. This is interesting and exciting but I trust you’re reading along with the listening half of the research. Certain frequencies have very specific effects on the mind/body and I advise caution. You’ve already noticed the nausea… Be careful and good luck!

    • Thanks!

      Oh, yes. I’m very much weary of any fantastic claims and I am taking precautions. I’ve set my phone and tablet to give me an audible warning at the 10 minute, 30 and 1 hour mark and also periodically monitor my heart rate and visual acuity. I’ve also considerably reduced the listening volume.

      What really surprised me was how quickly my balance was affected too, immediately after a listening session. I’m not sure if I’m particularly sensitive, but I plan to test on the couch instead of the bed so I’m within easy reach of ice and water.

      I think the inner ear is being affected due to the very low frequencies.

      • I’m sure it is. The effects are actually well studied, of course not always with our best interests in mind. The military has done extensive research in this field. Also Tom Kenyon is a good resource on the civilian front.

  2. Perhaps we should chat? This is an area I actually know about! (unlike programming, ahem) This is a good idea, the listening sessions, if done carefully; perhaps there is some small additional thing that would help. Speaking, of course, as a lifelong insomniac.

    • Oh! I missed this reply (I was busy taming dragons while juggling chainsaws). That sounds like a great offer and I do feel a tad lost in this brave new world of sensory exploration. I don’t want to hurt myself, but at the same time I’m growing a bit desperate about the sleep situation.

      I’ll email you as soon as I can get a break from work. Thank you so much! :D

      • Totally know about juggling dragons and facing off with chainsaws. Will be my great pleasure, in any event. Look forward to hearing from you!

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