Breaking down your brain waves Part IV and conclusion
This is the last and final of a four part series here on the blog. Read part I on beta brain wave states, here, Part II on alpha brainwave states here, and part III on theta brainwave states here, and then come back to this post. I’m going to provide you all with a very brief but hopefully informative introduction to the topic of brain waves and why knowing brain wave states can be a game changer when you’re trying to make lasting changes or reduce stress.
There are 4 brain wave states ranging from high frequency, low amplitude to low frequency, high amplitude and each state corresponds with a different type of functioning. the 4 brain wave states are as follows:
Beta: fastest frequency, lowest amplitude - associated with work, focused attention, analytical thought, focus on time and/or environment, and stress states.
Alpha: slower frequency higher amplitude than beta - associated with relaxed mind/body states
Theta: even slower frequency and higher amplitude than alpha, associated with flow states, early childhood, and falling asleep
Delta: the slowest frequency and highest amplitude - associated with deep, restorative sleep
Delta brain wave states tend to be associated with deep sleep. They are the slowest frequency with the highest amplitude. Delta brain waves are present when we are in deep sleep. They are also a time for the body to begin it’s rejuvenation and repair which is why good quality sleep is so critical. As mentioned in part III, while adults operate in beta brainwave state majority of the time children’s brain wave states are typically delta and theta. It isn’t until around age 12 that children’s brainwaves begin to change to beta. There is truth to the term “beauty sleep” as this truly is a time that is most restorative.
What this means
Sleep is critical. If you want your body to repair, heal, and restore itself, you MUST get good quality sleep. If you’re getting poor quality sleep, or less quantity of sleep, it could have detrimental effects to your health. In mental health, we become very concerned when sleep is negatively impacted because it’s so critical to biological functioning. This means that practicing activities to decrease anxiety, and promote relaxation are necessary parts of your everyday.
Bonus Brainwave state: Gamma
I just want to mention gamma brain waves because, though they are rare, and the last of the brainwaves to be discovered, they’re fascinating. Gamma brain waves are actually the quickest brainwaves with the lowest amplitude. They are active when one is in a peak psychological state, able to process a multitude of information all at once. It is thought that gamma brainwaves are present when an individual is experiencing a transcendent, spiritual experience or awakening. Gamma brainwave states are also observed to occur in extremely experienced meditators such as tibetan monks.
Understanding the brainwave states was such a game changer for me. It explained why I felt the least creative when I was stressed, or focused on appearances, or worried about the time. Understanding the importance of alpha and theta brainwave states in connecting with the subconscious mind allowed me to plan when to practice my personal growth activities so they have the greatest opportunity of efficacy. As a chronically late person, I have tried to drastically reduce my tardiness, as I realize all the time spend focused on the clock, and on being late increases the amount of time spend in high beta brainwave state (a stressful state for the brain). By leaving early for work or events, I don’t have to focus on the time, and have a greater chance of slipping into alpha brainwave state while I drive. If I allow myself to relax in yoga, I have a greater chance of slipping into alpha brainwave state, a state in which the body is capable of coordinating more all at once to allow for greater physical performance. I think we’ve been a nation who has drastically undervalued and underutilized the alpha and theta brainwave states. We’ve prioritized the “doing”, “hustle” “hard work” beta brainwave states, thus missing the opportunity to connect with intuition, tap into creativity, and recharge the body and brain in the alpha, theta, and delta brainwave states.
Maximize the benefits of alpha and theta, and delta brainwaves
Create specific personal growth morning and bedtime routines as this is the time when the subconscious mind is most receptive. This could include affirmations gratitude journaling, reading inspirational text, spiritual practice, or meditation.
Engage in rhythmic, relaxed, or auto-pilot activities such as running, yoga, meditation, playing music, surfing, cycling, or knitting, to reap the brain replenishing effects of alpha and theta, and to tap into intuition, creativity and/or the quantum field.
Utilize the benefits of binaural beats to help your mind relax.