At Sweet HQ, music constantly pumping through speakers is crucial to keeping the office's collective energy up throughout the day (at night, it's straight-up club-like). We're not alone in our aversion to silence, either. Plenty of people require a bit of sound at all times. But not every playlist or piece of music is right for every task at hand. That's where the scientists at Brain.fm come in.
Created by Adam Hewett and Junaid Kalmadi, Brain.fm is a website that generates playlists for three specific purposes: focusing, relaxing, and sleeping. The premise isn't something wholly unfamiliar; many noise machines come equipped with rainforest or ocean sounds to entice deep sleep, and countless college students would swear by electronic music for powering through papers. But Brain.fm's creators have gone even further to refine the kind of music listeners need.
"We worked with several prominent researchers and spent a lot of time looking at the brain activity of people while they listened to different types of sounds," says co-founder Junaid Kalmadi. "We all know music can affect the way we feel, but we also found that it can also have a direct effect on our brainwave activity."
Utilizing their backgrounds as audio engineers, and knowing that varied beats and fluctuations in sound can actually shift brainwaves, Hewett and Kalmadi began composing music suited to help listeners concentrate on certain tasks. Brain.fm's Focus playlists give listeners a sense of mental clarity, allowing them to achieve a steady work flow, while Sleep playlists use data gathered from Northwestern University's sleep lab to ease listeners into a solid REM cycle—or even just a power nap. For those trying their hand at meditation, the Relax playlists can help listeners put their busy minds at ease.
"We all know music can affect the way we feel." —Junaid Kalmadi
All three mood options come with a variety of atmospheric playlists that mix musical beat structuring. Focus playlists tend to emphasize electronic music, while Sleep and Relax playlists offer ambient music.
Brain.fm is the product of 13 years of brainwave research, and Hewett and Kalmadi wanted to make their scientific findings accessible and effective for the site's users. The website offers data for especially curious listeners to learn more about the hard facts behind each playlist's creation, with statistics on how effective users have found the app, a comprehensive report on the relationship between brain waves and music, and a research library with further reading on the subject.
But, scientific discoveries aside, Brain.fm is, at its heart, meant to enrich the lives of its users. "The great thing about Brain.fm is that you don't have to know anything about the brain or music to use it," says Kalmadi. "You just hit play and let it do all the work."