Purpose: To assess the efficacy of embedded theta brainwave frequency in music using binaural beat technology (BBT) compared to music alone on the cardiovascular stress response in military service members with postdeployment stress.
Design: A double-blinded, randomized, pre- and postintervention trial.
Methods: Seventy-four military services members with complaint of postdeployment stress were randomized to either music with BBT or music alone. Each group listened to their respective intervention for a minimum of 30 min at bedtime for three consecutive nights a week for a total of 4 weeks. A 20-min pre- and postintervention heart rate variability (HRV) stress test and daily perceived stress via diaries assessed intervention efficacy.
Findings: There was a statistical difference (p = .01) in low-frequency HRV between the music with BBT group compared to the music only group. The average low-frequency HRV decreased in the music with BBT group 2.5 ms2 /Hz, while in the music only group it increased 7.99 ms2 /Hz. There was also a significant difference (p = .01) in the high-frequency HRV measures, with the music with BBT group showing an increase in HRV by 2.5 ms2 /Hz compared to the music only group, which decreased by 7.64 ms2 /Hz. There were significant (p = .01) differences found in total power measures, with the music only group decreasing by 1,113.64 ms2 /Hz compared to 26.68 ms2 /Hz for the music with BBT group. Finally, daily diaries consistently showed that participants who used BBT reported less stress over the course of the 4 weeks.
Conclusions: When placed under an acute stressor, participants who used music with embedded BBT showed a decrease in sympathetic responses and an increase in parasympathetic responses, while participants who used music alone had the opposite effect.
Clinical relevance: The use of BBT in the theta brainwave frequency embedded into music decreases physical and psychological indications of stress. BBT embedded with beta and delta frequencies may improve cognitive functioning and sleep quality, respectively.
Keywords: Binaural beat technology; heart rate variability; military; postdeployment stress.
© 2017 Sigma Theta Tau International.