Brain Waves

Usually I wake up around 5.30am. The night before it took forever to fall asleep, with the remnants of the day past and planning for the day coming rolling around my brain. I don’t feel rested or relaxed, and I can vaguely remember another stress dream: was it the one where I was grading potatos, sorting mushrooms or trying to put out spot-fires. That was a typical night before I started using a brain training app to help fall asleep.I’ve been using an iOS app called “Brain Wave” by Banzai Labs. It used binaural beats to train your brain to relax into a variety of states using a technique called ‘entrainment’. Basically it works like this: when you are really relaxed, a predominant frequency of your brain activity might be around 7Hz. So if your brain is stimulated visually (by blinking lights) or aurally (by some kind of rhythmic or tonal stimuli), after a while it will want to follow that stimulus and go in sync with it. Unfortunately all those relaxing waves are around 4Hz, 7Hz, 10Hz and the like. But your ears can’t hear really below 20Hz. That’s where psychoacoustics come in.

Let’s say you play a 100Hz tone in your left hear, and a 104Hz tone in your right ear: in your brain, they’ll cancel each other out and your brain will percieve a 4hz tone as the difference. Don’t ask me why, thank the Creator for leaving the brain open to hacking. Then your brain will be stimulated at a frequency that it can follow.

How binaural beats work

How binaural beats work

I’ve been using the “Deep Sleep” pattern for about 30 minutes when I go to sleep. At the end, a Japanese meditation bell plays in my headphones and the last think I remember before going to sleep is putting my headphones on the bedside table. Then when in wake up in the morning, I feel incredibly relaxed and rested. My wife even said to me one morning “I was worried because you weren’t moving around like you normally do in your sleep – I had to poke you in the ribs to make sure you were still alive.” I dunno if it’s psychosomatic, and frankly I don’t care – it seems to work and it’s the best quality sleep I’ve had in a while.

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Give it a go if you’re looking for a good night’s sleep. There’s also patterns to help focus and concentration (I find these great for marking student work), 10 minute meditation, lucid dreaming, Morning Coffee Shot (which is supposed to make you alert) and more.

Find it on the app store: Brain Wave by Banzai Labs.

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