Sleep and Meditation – Music, White Noise, and Binaural Beats

sleep and meditation, music, white noise & binaural beats
Sleep and Meditation Music

Music, white noise, and binaural beats are central to the creation of the videos on our sister Sleep & Meditation Channel at YouTube. And this post is an expanded explanation of how and why we create this music, as set out in the individual video descriptions on our YouTube sleep meditation channel. 

Our method embraces both the audio and the visual effects in the videos. But with the audio dominating. This is because most people will enjoy the videos with their eyes closed.

Audio Creation Technique

Our basic technique in creating the audio in our sleep and meditation videos is to layer together carefully selected sounds. These sounds will include:

1: Music that is suggestive or inducive of sleep or meditation or both.

2: White, pink, or brown noise that is drawn from sounds of nature.

3: Binaural beats in the range of Delta 1.0 Hz through Theta 8.0 Hz.

Audio Layering

Our brains process sound, even as we sleep and meditate. And different sounds can affect how well we sleep or meditate. This happens on both a conscious and a subconscious level. So, for this reason, we “layer” the audio in our videos.

The first, or top layer is the beautiful music that you actively listen to. This is “top of mind” as we lie down to sleep or set out on our meditation.

The second layer is a sound of nature. This layer has a dual purpose. 

First, it is there to enhance the beauty of the top layer of music. Sounds of nature have a beauty that is all their own. 

Second, this is simultaneously an opportunity to bring in a background noise color or hue. These are often recommended as helpful to people with insomnia and they are a calming background to meditation.

The third layer is the binaural beat, which we cover in detail below.

But first, let’s briefly describe the mechanics of how we create this multi-layered audio.

Software – Audacity

We would not be able to do our audio layering without software. We use Audacity. This is an open source, multi-track audio editor and recorder and we use it on a desktop computer PC running Windows 10.

Audacity has a wide range of uses for anything involving sound. We use it to create the audio layering effect we describe here. We also use it for the voice recording of our guided meditations.

Here is a screenshot visual of Audacity in action to give you an idea of how this is done.

Here you will see the three double (stereo) tracks of a piece of audio being created. These are the three layers of our audio.

The top track shows the steady tone of the binaural beat. It is created in stereo because it needs to be delivered to each ear separately.

The center track shows the waveform of the sound of nature. In this case, it is heavy rain.

The bottom track shows the waveform of the piece of music we are incorporating into the audio.

Once we are satisfied with the audio, we export it as an MP3 audio file. The export operation has the effect of merging the three tracks together.

Sleep and Meditation Music

We do not create our own music. Rather we use music under a Creative Commons license from these wonderful creators:

We adapt and enhance this music by mixing in sounds of nature (the white, pink, or noise) as a second layer. And then we add binaural beats as the third layer. The frequency of the binaural beats is selected depending on whether our audio is intended to induce sleep or a meditative state.

Noise Hues 

Noise hues are an aid to both sleep and meditation. For example, we often see “white noise” recommended as being helpful for insomnia and other sleep disorders and inducing a meditative state. But noise comes in other colors or hues too, depending on the frequency and energy of the sound type. Here’s a brief overview.

White noise 

White noise is evenly distributed across all audible frequencies. And this results in a steady humming type of sound. This has the ability to block out other types of sound that might stimulate the brain and disturb sleep. 

Examples are an air conditioner or a fan running. People will often purchase a white noise machine as a sleep aid. It works for both adults and infants.

Pink noise

Pink noise is a deeper sound and occurs at lower frequencies. Examples found in Nature are the sounds of rain and wind. Studies indicate that pink noise can calm brainwave activity and promote deep and stable sleep.

Brown noise 

Brown noise (also called red noise): brown noise has higher energy and at lower frequencies than white noise. Examples in Nature are heavy waterfalls and thunder. There is evidence that the depth of brown noise induces sleep and relaxation.

Black noise

Black noise describes the absence of noise or complete silence. This is actually hard to achieve. But some people sleep best when there is virtually no noise.

We draw our noise hues from the sounds of Nature, simply because of their natural beauty. They are a pleasure to listen to.

Binaural Beats

The third layer of our music is a binaural beat. This is a pair of tones, separated quite narrowly in various frequencies. One tone is delivered to one ear and the other tone to the other ear. 

The binaural beat is in the deep background and is barely noticeable to the listener. This is because listening to flat tones on their own can be irritating and distracting. Nonetheless, they are there and have a subconscious effect. 

Auditory Illusion

binaural soundwaves
Binaural Soundwaves

Binaural beats, which are a kind of auditory illusion, are tuned to our brainwaves and are used to stimulate certain desired mental states. They have what is known as an “entrainment effect” on the brain that acts in different ways, depending on the frequency.

Binaural beats do not work without headphones. This is because the technology works by delivering two slightly different tones to each ear. The brain processes these tones as one single perceived tone.

Our brainwaves, also called neural oscillations, are associated with certain mental states. And for our purpose here, we focus on those mental states associated with deep sleep or relaxation

Binaural Wavebands

The Delta waveband ( 0.1 – 4 Hz) is associated with deep sleep, healing, relaxation, and restoration. We use the Delta binaural band in our sleep-inducing videos.

The Theta waveband (4 – 8 Hz) is associated with a meditative and creative state, REM sleep, deep relaxation, reduced anxiety, inward focus, and feelings. We use the Theta binaural band in our meditation videos.

Binaural beats in the Alpha waveband (8 – 13 Hz) encourage relaxation, positivity, and decreased anxiety.

Binaural beats in the Beta waveband (14 – 30 Hz) are associated with increased alertness, concentration, improved memory, and problem-solving.

We will incorporate the Alpha and Beta binaural bands in the videos we have planned for our ambient background study music, concentration music, and focus music. 

Binaural beats of 40 Hz have been found helpful in learning and training.

Headphones

sleeping headphones
Sleeping Headphones

The term “binaural” is derived from the words bi (the Latin for two) and auris (the Latin for ear). And this means that in order for the brain to perceive and benefit from binaural beats, you must use headphones. 

You can get headphones designed for listening to music while you sleep. You can get them combined with eyeshades too. Check out these links:

  • https://amzn.to/3B9QyzR
  • https://amzn.to/3ptwaHF

The Visuals in Our Videos

We have selected and collated calming and sleep-inducing video clips from the public domain. An example source is Pixabay. 

We have further enhanced the visual effect by overlaying in a corner of the screen a video of a meditative or sleeping avatar or surrogate. This has the effect of further drawing the viewer into a sleepy or meditative state.

Creating the Video

We use the Openshot video editor to create the video by combining audio and video tracks as appropriate. This software renders the video in an MP4 file, which we then upload to YouTube.

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