Brainwave Entrainment for ADHD: What Is It And Can It Help

brainwave entrainment for ADHD

Brainwave Entrainment for ADHD is probably not the first thing you consider when you have ADHD. Whilst, of course, medication, exercise, and various therapies, are the core of any approach to managing ADHD, nonetheless some people with ADHD report a positive response to brainwave entrainment.

And if, for some reason, you're in that 10-20% for whom medication is not an option, or choose not to medicate, then brainwave entrainment for ADHD could be exactly what you're looking for. 

In this article, we take a look at what brainwave entrainment for ADHD is, and how it might be able to help you manage and potentially contribute to the mastery of your symptoms of ADHD.[1, 2]

brainwave entrainment for ADHD

What Is Brainwave Entrainment for ADHD

In simple terms, brainwave entrainment for ADHD is the use of light or sound to cause a “Frequency Following Response” (FFR) in the brain, commonly known as entrainment. In other words, using pulses of light and/or sound, you can induce certain electrical states in the brain. It's similar to listening to music, feeling the beat, and tapping along. It can make you feel more alert. Conversely, slower music may lead to more relaxed responses as your brainwaves become slower and calmer.

Most people's introduction to brainwave entrainment normally comes via Binaural beats. These are a particular type of auditory entrainment, which works by sending a different tone in each ear (say 30hz or cycles per second in the Left ear and 10hz in the Right ear), and the difference between the two tones (in this instance, 20hz) is perceived as a “beat.”

However the research tends to show that binaural beats (a particular type of auditory entrainment which is the oldest and hence most well known and employed) create more of a relaxed or hypnotic state in listeners. This is why many hypnotists like to use them and why they are often favoured for deep meditation. In the case of ADHD, however, we need entrainment that leads to a more stimulating response in the brain. These include:

  • Isochronic tones – a tone being switched on and off very rapidly, creating sharp, distinctive, pulses of sound, are reported to work more efficiently for faster stimulation of the brain.

  • Light based (photic stimulation) combined with auditory, otherwise known as “Audio Visual Entrainment” (AVE), is a much more powerful form of entrainment because the brain responds more rapidly to light [3]

eeg brainwaves

Why People With ADHD Have Slower Brainwaves

People that have ADD (primarily Attention Deficit) tend to be more day-dreamy. This appears related to an over-production of theta waves (4-7HZ or “cycles per second”) in the front of the brain. These are great for creativity and empathy, but not so good for when you need to be really focused.

In those with the Hyperactive (ADHD) component, we tend to find that hyperactive persons' brains are running even more slowly than those with ADD which is why those with ADHD are more fidgety or “hyper.” This is their way of attempting to compensate for the extreme dopamine depletion in their brain. In other words, they are literally “falling asleep at the wheel,” and hence why they need to move or fidget (seek stimulation) to keep themselves awake.

The theory goes that binaural beats or brainwave entrainment for ADHD generally can help ADHD in much the same way that medication does: using light and sound, the prefrontal cortex can be stimulated to increase electrical activity and increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain.

It should be pointed out that whereas slow brainwave entrainment may be beneficial to help us relax, in the case of ADHD (just like stimulant medication) there tends to be a “paradoxical response”. In other words, the use of faster brainwave entrainment can actually help people with ADHD to calm down and focus.

binaural beats for ADHD

The Benefits of Binaural Beats for ADHD

There is no question that binaural beats for ADHD or brainwave entrainment is not necessarily for everyone or a replacement for medication, but there are some good reasons why it may be worth considering brainwave entrainment as an alternative or complement to your existing therapy regime.

  • Brainwave entrainment (BWE) can be fun and enjoyable to experience, which makes this particular approach easy to be consistent with.

  • Binaural beats and BWE may offer the benefits of relaxation, focus, and make deep states of meditation or hypnosis easier to achieve.

  • Brainwave entrainment, as some research suggests, may work more powerfully when combined with other treatment, such as the use of medication or exercise. There is some kind of “synergistic” effect.

  • BWE may offer therapeutic value to those who, for whatever reason, are unable to take medication or choose not to medicate (which occurs in about 10-20% of the ADHD population).

  • Brainwave entrainment is an affordable modality. An MP3 could cost you little more than a few pounds, whilst an Audio Visual Entrainment (AVE) device between £100-£400 pounds on average. So either way, if you're sceptical about this modality, in terms of cost you have little to lose, and potentially a lot to gain.

  • Binaural beats for ADHD and brainwave entrainment generally are safe for most users, except those with a history of epilepsy, hearing problems, or when pregnant. You should always consult with a physician when considering whether you or your child are suitable to use this or indeed any other modality.

boy balancing pencil on his nose

Brainwave Entrainment Success Stories

In 2004 when I was diagnosed with ADHD and tried medication for a number of months but discontinued due to side effects. I purchased an Audio Visual Entrainment (AVE) or “mind machine” called “Procyon”, which I have been using ever since as my daily “dopamine fix.” I find it effective after just 10-20 minutes and it's positively addictive so I never forget to use it. I also find it helpful for combating S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) during winter or on mornings when I've had to stay indoors.

(Note: I do not recommend Procyon due to the use of red light which can increase risk of triggering anxiety, and generally whilst I love it because it is highly stimulating and colourful, nonetheless it is not the safest AVE device out there. It is more of an entertainment AVE device. To be on the safe side, and also for maximal effectiveness, if you're thinking of AVE I would recommend the DavidPal Alert which is made by MindAlive for ADHD or the Mindspa as first choice, both of which can also be used eyes open for reading or sports).

In 2011, when I had my big transformation, recovering from life-long depression and ADHD, I credit that in big part to the use of a particularly sophisticated form of auditory brainwave entrainment called iAwake that I combined with meditation, exercise and hypnosis.

Over the years I have had a number of clients who have tried everything for sleep and nothing worked, but some of them reported that the use of an AVE device at bedtime worked very efficiently at helping them fall asleep.

I've also worked with one client who spent tens of thousands of pounds on attending clinics for her mental health issues and long-term insomnia. When she came back from a week in the USA attending one such clinic, still suffering from insomnia, I suggested that she might like to try a Delta brainwave track. She reported finally being able to fall asleep.

I've also had a number of clients report some level of success at improving their focus for ADHD using auditory entrainment. In particular a track called “Neurocharger 2.0” from iAwake seems helpful at improving focus for ADHD. It triggers alpha-beta brain activity and also incorporates the Tomatis method; extremely high and low frequencies which energise the “inner ear.” Clients have reported that this track appears effective even when listened to with eyes open, whilst sitting to do a boring task such as paper work or tax returns.

Of course, these are just some examples, and everyone is different and responds differently. It is certainly not for everyone. But brainwave entrainment may be worth a try.

 

digital euphoria brainwave entrainment iawake

Exploring Brainwave Entrainment For Yourself

Brainwave entrainment may be helpful to explore if, for some reason, you cannot or do not take medication. Either way, it is advisable to consult your medical health professional when considering the use of this technology, especially if you are considering to use a light based “Audio Visual Entrainment” (AVE) device.

If the user is young or there is a history of epilepsy in the family, you should of course get confirmation if possible that brainwave entrainment for ADHD would be a safe option. Some clinicians and hypnotherapists in your area may also offer brainwave entrainment therapy for ADHD.

Otherwise brainwave entrainment, especially auditory entrainment like binaural beats, tends to be safe for most people. And if you want to explore it's use without spending any money, why not sign up to iAwake Technologies mailing list where you can get access to 6 free 10 minute samples. https://zo158.isrefer.com/go/home/diamond88/

Note that most of these audio tracks are relaxation based, but for daytime use when you have ADHD be sure to use the track called “Digital Euphoria” or "Recharge". You can use the other tracks for relaxation but when you need to be alert and productive afterwards, you may need to listen to at least 10 minutes of Digital Euphoria or Recharge afterwards. Here's some additional quick tips on how to make the most of these tracks: 

  • Auditory brainwave entrainment or binaural beats works best with headphones, the type that goes over the ears, versus those that go inside the ear. This technology is not effective played from a stereo.
  • The track works best with eyes closed. That said, you can experiment using the track on a moderate volume eyes open, but at least 10 minutes eyes closed beforehand  is probably necessary to make sure you trigger the "Frequency Following Response" (FFR) in the brain.
  • The track is only 10 minutes long so play it on repeat if necessary, up to a maximum of 2 hours per day. Play on a moderate volume. It tends to work better on a reasonable volume and also avoids damaging the ears.

Watch this Space

In our next article in the Brainwave Series we answer the question, what evidence is there for the effectiveness of brainwave entrainment for ADHD? And after that we explore how best to use Brainwave Entrainment for ADHD; essential and powerful tips and strategies to make sure you get the most out of this modality. Be sure to make sure you're signed up to my mailing list so that you receive an update as soon as it's released. ADDVANTAGEHYPNOTHERAPY Email Marketing - (activehosted.com)

References

[1] ADHD Music: How Music May (Or May Not) Help You Focus (healthline.com)

[2] Binaural Beats Research Breakdown | Examine.com

[3] Research on Audio Visual Entrainment (AVE) for ADHD, David Siever, Mind Alive Mind Alive Inc - Studies on ADD/ADHD – Mind Alive Inc.

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