What is Binaural Beats and How It Enhanced My Productivity Up to the Utmost Extent

Surveys

A study published in the International Journal of Social Sciences found that software developers are more likely to experience weakness, burnout, anxiety, and stress than their colleagues who perform mechanical tasks. Deteriorating mental health not only threatens the individuals, but also the organizations.

Over 80K developers participated in Stack Overflow’s 2021 Developer Survey — a research project in which 10% of respondents reported having a mental health issue, anxiety, and depression being the most common. Mental health issues are significantly prevalent among software engineers, according to these results.

Credit — Stackoverflow developer survey

As you may know, Programming can be a frustrating, lonely, and time-consuming endeavor due to which many developers suffer from emotional and mental disorders. The code produced by mentally exhausted or depressed developers is of lower quality and deadlines are missed more frequently.

As a developer, I have also gone through a similar phase during my professional career. There were times when I was unable to focus on work, which negatively affected my productivity.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-showing-distress-3777572/

When you are stressed out at home or have personal concerns, you cannot simply focus on your work as it involves mental labor. I see two sides of my intuition when I look at the screen. One is work, and the other one is personal problems/stress or some other issues which usually diverts my mind. In general, developers do not talk about these things since part of human nature involves looking good and feeling safe in front of others.
We all go through it every day. Even when we are not under stress, our mind prevents us from focusing on a single task. The majority of the time we are distracted by other tasks. For example, we keep on browsing youtube or social media websites, which take up a lot of time.

Throughout this article, I will not discuss more on how mental health issues affect the lives of developers. Instead, I would point out my experience in overcoming these stress, anxiety-related obstacles that led to improved productivity and improved focus on work. In this article, I will focus on “Binaural beats” specifically.

Here my journey starts. Like many developers, I started listening to music while coding. Although it gave me goosebumps, it didn’t last long. Despite my best efforts, I was not able to listen to a piece of music and write at the same time.

Lofi hip hop radio:

In an effort to combat the distractions, I began listening to instrumental background music on YouTube like Lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study and it felt good for quite some time. I only had one problem: I could hear it while coding. This meant there was some kind of distraction and I wasn’t satisfied with it. As a result of my attempts to reduce distractions, I was always searching for new music that can help me stay focused.

Photo by hitesh choudhary from Pexels

While searching on YouTube, I discovered music related to binaural beats.
It was so intense that I worked continuously for three to four hours without a break. This music didn’t even make me feel like I was listening to it while I was at work. I was surprised to discover how such background music could increase my alertness & focus for the very first time. I was quite intrigued by the science behind it and eager to learn more about it.

Now I am going to share about binaural beats in detail. In terms of stress reduction or anxiety cure, you may already know about binaural beats. They are all over YouTube, promising to fix everything from insomnia to fear, as well as improving poor memory and a lackluster mood.

Based on my work experience in the mindfulness industry, I learned that the brain is an operating system and it can be reprogrammed the way we want it.
Let's explore how binaural beat can reprogram our brain activities.

What are binaural beats?

https://appadvice.com/app/binaural-beats-meditation/1448148866

Whenever two tones with slightly different frequencies are heard at the same time, the brain creates an illusion called a binaural beat.

Binaural beats are a type of sound that’s designed to enhance concentration, boost creativity, and improve mood.

What is Beat? :

If you wear earphones that play different notes in each ear at the same time, our brain perceives the volume to pulse (occur) at a fixed rate, which is called a beat. Simply beat can be described as the difference between the frequencies of the two tones expressed in hertz (Hz).

Credit: neurological blog

For example, you would hear a 10 Hz tone if you were listening to a 250 Hz tone with your left ear and a 260 Hz tone with your right ear. It has been shown through studies that the above beats cause brain activity to match the frequency set by a beat. This is known as the frequency-following effect, which means your mind can be trained to reach a particular mental state by listening to binaural beats.

Importance of superior olivary complex in the brain :

In the brain stem, there is an area called the superior olivary complex that processes sound inputs from both ears in order to identify the direction of sounds.

Credit : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4898667/

When two closely spaced frequencies are detected by the superior olivary complex, the brain will produce an illusion of hearing a beat by synchronizing neuronal activity in other brain regions. Synchronizing brain activity across separate brain areas is called “entrainment” and is one of the main ways binaural beats affect our brain waves.

As per research studies, Binaural beats seem to increase the strength of certain types of brain waves throughout the brain, enhancing or suppressing the different modes of cognition and emotion.

Types of Brain Waves

  • Delta Waves : (0.5–3 Hz)
    1. Deep & Dreamless sleep
    2. Meditation
    3. Healing
    4. Access to the subconscious mind

References :
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165862/ https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00387/full https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29063112

Listen to the delta waves:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIv13ou5mzw
https://open.spotify.com/artist/3cXfSIay6WnJkBNrrvlOO1

  • Theta Waves: (3–8 Hz)
    1. Dreaming
    2. Spatial navigation
    3. Intuition
    4. Meditation
    5. Memory formation
    6. Alertness
    7. Creativity
    8. Subconscious thinking

References :
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28930523/
https://www.healthline.com/health/theta-waves#brain-wave-manipulation

Listen to theta waves.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBMQFaU-HYk
https://open.spotify.com/album/2TJFT5Qd2STse45oj0gIHc

  • Alpha Waves (8–12 Hz)
    In an alpha state, your brain is highly focused and productive.
    1. Deep focus
    2. Positive thinking
    3. Improved learning capability
    4. Easy engagement in activities

References :
https://www.cell.com/trends/neurosciences/fulltext/S0166-2236(07)00026-4
https://www.healthline.com/health/alpha-brain-waves

Listen to Alpha Waves :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cHjaJRl1Qo
https://open.spotify.com/artist/2DvbYXMiUAQuupPEQnIt1I

  • Beta Waves (12–38 Hz)
    1. Active problem solving
    2. Complex and effortful thinking
    3. High Anxiety
    4. Excitement
    5. Judgement
    6. Cognition at a high level

References :
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18674598/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_wave

Listen to Beta waves: https://open.spotify.com/album/2LhrruMUmtm0d1pZEV8CkB
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEHVz5XCmBs

  • Gamma Waves (38–100 Hz)
    Gamma waves are believed to assist in the integration of thought by linking information from different parts of the brain
    1. Increased cognitive acuity
    2. Focus on details, aiding in memory recall
    3. A conscious and self-aware attitude
    4. Spirituality

References :
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10677593/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22443509/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19400723/
https://www.healthline.com/health/gamma-brain-waves

Listen to Gamma waves :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axTImghP9Ts
https://open.spotify.com/album/1I9jcTFZWVIkgL2ZsrYtup

By now, all of you should be familiar with the five types of brain waves that the brain needs to produce based on our requirements. It can be generated by listening to binaural beats, which simply trick the brain.

In addition to the above binaural beats, here are my favorite beats that I use on daily basis. Hopefully, you will be able to pick the best ones from below list.
Make sure you check the comments under each video. If you are feeling down or stressed, this will definitely motivate you.

Evidence :

Besides the research studies above, let me give you some feedback from users who are listening to it every day. (Collected it from youtube)

Credit: Youtube
Credit: Youtube
Credit: Youtube
Credit: Youtube
Credit: Youtube
Credit: Youtube
Credit: Youtube
Credit: Youtube

Limitations :

There is no FDA-approved medical use for binaural beats, and clinical research on them is insufficient. Consult your doctor before attempting to use them for health reasons.

Research on binaural beat therapy as a standalone medical treatment tool is uncertain, so it cannot be used as a substitute for conventional medicine.
The use of binaural beats could be beneficial for mental health as they help to promote positive feelings.

The reaction of binaural beats differs from person to person. We need to experiment with different binaural beats to find the ones that work for us.

Conclusion:

Through this article, we learned about five types of brain waves and how to re-program our brain to generate them by using binaural beats effectively.
Finally, we discovered a new operating system called Brain. It sounds interesting.

Credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/headphones-plugged-in-photos

As an individual, I found it to be very effective since it helped me to concentrate significantly on tasks and I became much more productive than I used to be. Hopefully, it will benefit you in the same way as mine and contribute to both personal wellbeing and organizational success.

Thank you for reading this article. If you have any questions, please add comments below. You can connect me via Linkedin or Twitter

References :

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Lakin Mohapatra

Lakin Mohapatra

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Senior Software Engineer | Hungry coder | Proud Indian | Cyber Security Researcher | Ethical Hacker | Blogger | Full Stack Developer