IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not a medical site. You should always discuss medical matters with your doctor.
Sound & Light Machines
Mind MachinesSound and Light machines for personal use (also known as mind machines) have been on the market for some years now. Advances in technology mean that the models you can buy today are usually more sophisticated and often have more features and options than the originals. They have many uses, including relaxation and encouraging deeper sleep. The best known systems on the market are probably Procyon, Proteus and Sirius however there are many more.
What Are Sound And Light Machines?There are many different light and sound machines on the market. They vary tremendously in price and features but all consist of essentially three elements:
- An Eye Mask
This is an eye shade, usually plastic, that contains one or more LEDs positioned over each eye. When in use these LEDs will flash either in a preset pattern or in time with music. Cheaper sound-light machines will have only one LED per eye or multiple LEDs of the same colour. More advanced units have multiple LEDs of different colours for each eye which can pulse independently.
To accompany the light show, you wear a pair of headphones. Depending on the unit you will either hear a series of pulses or synchronised music.
- Control Unit
The control unit can either be seperate or built into one of the other components. Its job is to control the flashing LEDs and either time them, synchronise them to the music or provide synchronised sound pulses. On the basic units you simply set the rate of flash/pulse. More advanced units have "programs" where the system changes the rate of pulsing over a set period of time in a preset sequence.
A good sound light machine will also have options on the controller for varying the intensity of the light and the volume of the sound. The most advanced sound and light units link to your PC to allow you to design your own sessions or download new ones from the Internet.
How Does a Sound Light Machine Work?Important: If you suffer from epilepsy or or otherwise affected by flashing lights or rhythmic sound do NOT use a sound & light machine without consulting your doctor.
To use a sound light machine, simply get comfortable in a darkened room and put on the eyeshade and headphones. Select a program, close your eyes and relax.
With your eyes shut you will be aware of vague flashes of colour. If using an advanced machine you might be surprised by the number of different visual experiences that can be produced by a few LEDs!
Accompanying the light will be sound. Assuming you are not using music synchronisation then this will be a series of rhythmic pulses, possibly binaural.
Just let yourself drift off. A good light sound sequence is designed to ensure a Frequency Following Response whereby your brain locks on to the frequency of the lights and gradually attunes to it. This is essentially a "leading" mechanism - as the frequency reduces, you relax automatically.
Why Use a Sound and Light Machine?Sound Light Machines are essentially used to create an "altered state of consciousness". That doesn't necessarily mean anything weird, it could simply mean extreme relaxation.
Some people use sound and light machines to enhace lucid dreaming, meditation and even learning.
Do They Work?As with all these things it's personal. The best mind machine for you might not work for someone else.
I've bought several light sound machines over the years. Currently I'm using a Proteus Mind Machine and it's great. Although it has a multitude of programs I've found that there are only half a dozen I use on a regular basis.
For me the Proteus unit produces some of the deepest relaxation I've ever experienced. I either use it during the day to "recharge" or at bedtime for a really good night's sleep.