The brain is simply fascinating, amazing…and complex.
Made up of a network of billions of neurons, the brain uses both chemical and electrical signals to transfer information. Depending on the stimulus, neurons fire at regular intervals but different frequencies.
The brain, however, doesn’t only exhibit one frequency at a time. When we say someone is in a certain brainwave state, it is the dominant brainwave pattern that the electroencephalography (EEG) is picking up.
Each brainwave pattern is associated with different states of consciousness. The five most talked-about brainwave bands are Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and the most recently discovered, Gamma. Our dominant brainwave patterns change as we develop from an infant to an adult and they depend on the activities we are engaged in.
Why are Brainwave Patterns Important and What Do They Mean For Our Well-Being?
The brain is wired to produce different neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and hormones at different brainwave frequencies.
No one brainwave pattern is more important or better than another. The key is to be flexible and resilient and be able to move easily through different frequencies and brain activities.
In modern-day life, most people stay in the Beta state during waking hours, even when it is not required. This is because stress increases our brainwave frequencies. Higher Beta frequencies are equated with stress, hypertension, increased blood flow and heart rate, and cortisone and glucose production. It must be remembered, though, that insufficient Beta brainwaves are associated with mental and emotional disorders such as insomnia and depression.
Studies do show that slower brainwaves (Delta, Theta, and Alpha) have a multitude of health benefits. It is in these lower ranges that the body is in repair mode or at least experiences reprieve from stress. This generally enhances the immune system.
As we age, certain hormones are produced in smaller amounts, which makes the body more susceptible to deterioration and disease. Slower brainwaves increase the production of important and health-boosting hormones, neuropeptides, and neurotransmitters. Hormone levels of melatonin and DHEA can increase significantly in the Alpha and Theta states. Other anti-aging hormones such as the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) are also produced in greater amounts in the Delta frequency range.
The production of the “stress hormone” cortisol is also lowered in the slower brainwave bands. In a prolonged Theta state, the sodium/potassium ratio in the brain is balanced, improving the exchange of neuro-chemicals or the ability to transfer information through the neutrons.
Endorphins and neurotransmitters like serotonin kick in when the brain is in slower frequency ranges. Not only do our cognition and learning improve, we are more relaxed and experience a natural high from feel-good chemicals.
In general, being in the slower brainwave patterns have anti-stress and anti-aging effects that boost our overall levels of wellness.
Ways to Access Slower Brainwave Patterns and States of Consciousness
Different brainwave patterns can be accessed to maximize our potential for health as well as increasing our productivity, creativity, learning, and general personal development. There are different ways to access these patterns. Here are the most common.
Using scientifically-engineered software, brainwave entrainment leads the brain into specific brainwave states. The right and left hemispheres get synchronized for whole-brain functioning.
Brainwave entrainment technology leverages on the brain’s natural process of mirroring an external rhythmic stimulus called frequency following response. Using binaural beats, monaural beats, or isochronic tones, desired brainwave states can be induced.
Try Induction Holistic Therapy which re-introduces natural oscillation patterns to the brain. Sessions are beneficial for those with insomnia, migraines or lymphatic disturbances and for anyone wanting to boost their concentration, memory, and learning.
Research has shown that Zen masters and Tibetan Buddhist monks naturally reach slower brainwave patterns in meditation. In this state, even beginners can easily access the Alpha frequencies. The aim is to move into the Alpha-Theta range. With practice, reaching the depths of the Delta range (without falling asleep) is also possible.
Yoga, like meditation, promotes well-being. The practice of yoga is one of alert relaxation and contemplation, which is the Alpha state. Regular yoga practice can help to access the Theta and even Delta range. Yoga Nidra or Yogic Sleep is the state of conscious Deep Sleep during which Delta brain waves are dominant.
As biofeedback for the brain, Neurofeedback helps the brain to learn to increase specific brainwaves for healthier function. Neurofeedback itself does not fix problems such as learning disabilities, cognitive impairment, or depression. It enhances the brain to self-regulate to reduce symptoms associated with dsyregulation.
Deep Breathing & Daydreaming
The Alpha state can be accessed with deep breathing and daydreaming as well. Dedicate a few moments every day to abdominal breathing and increase the ability to easily shift into relaxation.
Delta activity is seen in deep dreamless sleep.
In today’s world, sleep is often seen as a luxury or an activity to forgo. Statistics show that most people do not get sufficient sleep. The most regenerative sleep is between 10pm and 2am. It’s important to make this a habit to allow the brain to ease into the Delta brainwaves so the body can properly repair and heal. See the article Sleep and Longevity from The Dr Oz Show website to see how you can reset your internal clock. Rebalancing the body’s natural day-night cycle is necessary for health and can help with insomnia.
If your sleep cycle is off, try the Sleep Bracelet from Philip Stein. Using Natural Frequency Technology, this “bracelet” helps improve the quality of sleep. The feedback from people What Therapy spoke with has been fantastic. One user even reported sleeping straight through a long-haul flight, a rarity for him!
The brain is a complex part of our system. The billions of neurons fire at regular intervals in response to external stimuli, giving rise to different oscillations throughout the brain. The dominant frequency range is the brainwave state, that is related to a specific state of consciousness.
For wellness and well-being, it is important that the brain is able to move through all frequency ranges. Because of the rise of stress and sleep disorders, many people are not able to drop into the slower brainwave frequencies. Slower brainwave patterns have long been known as health-promoting, with benefits that are now being supported by scientific research. Using various techniques and technology, we are able to tap into brainwave states that for whatever reason we may not be accessing on our own for prolonged periods of time.
Delta (0 – 4 Hz)¹ is the slowest brainwave band and is associated with deep dreamless sleep. In this unconscious state, the body is regenerating and healing, which includes “resetting the internal clocks”.
Theta (4 – 8 Hz) is deep meditation or relaxation and light sleep (including the REM state). This is also associated with memory, creativity, and intuition. People also use this state for hypnosis and self-programing since belief systems and programmings are rooted in Theta.
Alpha (8 – 12 Hz) is the state we are naturally in just before sleep and when we first get up in the morning. Alpha waves are produced when we close our eyes. Consciously relaxing or deep breathing will also produce spurts of alpha waves. In this state, we are awake, relaxed, and contemplative, and we can experience heightened visualization and creativity.
Beta (14 – 30 Hz) is associated with alertness, focused concentration, problem-solving, and reasoning. While under stress, higher beta brainwave frequencies are experienced.
The Gamma range (above 40 Hz) is the state of being “in the zone” and has been called the insight wave . Gamma brainwaves are believed by neuroscientists to have the ability to link and process information very quickly in the whole brain. It is in this state that we see peak mental and physical performance as well as increased capacity for compassion.
Within each brainwave frequency band lies further division of frequencies relating to different activities.
¹Frequency ranges are usually rounded to the nearest whole number, unless they are used for research, which requires for precision. Different people also use slightly ranges of frequencies for each brainwave as well.
Epsilon, Gamma, HyperGama, Lambda Brainwave Activity, and Ecstatic States of Consciousness by Dr Jeffrey D Thompson
Brainwave States and How to Access Them
Understanding How the Mind Works at Various Frequencies Levels