I'm a really good sleeper. For the most part, I can fall asleep quickly and stay asleep all night. But according to the daily complaints I see on social media, I think I may be in the minority.
It hasn't always been this way for me. In periods of high stress (that lasted for a few years at one point), I really struggled to relax and fall asleep.
This is the point in the night where you lay awake, staring at the ceiling, trying to solve all of your problems that, inevitably, seem ridiculous once the sun comes up.
But at that moment, in the dark, your brain is just not going to let it go and let you sleep. That kind of anxiety increases your brainwaves and can keep you from falling asleep.
I don't recall how I learned about Binaural Beats. Perhaps I was looking for a guided meditation and tripped across them somehow but wow….can they do the trick every single time.
What are binaural beats? In short, two different low tones are played on one track – one in each ear. Your brain can't focus on either one independently so it creates the illusion of a third tone in between the other two that's at the frequency you need to slow down and relax.
That third tone is a binaural beat. Most tracks that you can download have soothing music or sounds of nature layered over the beats.
You listen to binaural beats with headphones on so that each ear picks up each tone. The beats lead your brain initially to the more relaxed theta state and then to delta, where sleep happens.
Most tracks are 20 minutes long and work like a charm. When I'm having trouble sleeping, I put on my headphones, start the track and set the timer on my iPhone to “Stop Playing” after 20 minutes (so it won't go to the next track and wake me up).
This works so well for me, I have suggested it to my husband, my parents and countless other friends and family members who have all been surprised at how easily it works for them.
Technically, it can take up to two weeks to “entrain” your brain to fall into the necessary sleep state, but everyone I know that tries it falls asleep pretty easily the first time.
And they're not only great for sleep – you can use them for meditation, concentration, an energy boost or dreaming. I've even used them at the dentist's office to (attempt to) relax.
There are lots of different versions available both free and for a fee online. If you're looking specifically for help sleeping, you want Delta waves.