At any given point in time, a person’s brain’s nerve cells are sending out electrical impulses in specific patterns known as brainwaves. Everything from our thoughts and ideas to our moods and physical state are closely tied to the brainwave patterns our brain is producing. An electroencephalogram (EEG) produces a visual representation of these brainwave readings. The waves are measured in Hertz (Hz), which is the number of cycles produced per second.
Our brains do not operate in just one state. Throughout the day our brains cycle through each of the states a number of times. In fact, our brains function in multiple states at a time, with one of the states being dominant. That dominant state represents our current degree of consciousness. Each of the brainwave states occurs at a particular frequency range. This is what the number of Hz represents.
Alpha waves are most closely tied to feelings of relaxation and inventiveness. We are at our most creative when Alpha waves are the dominant brainwaves. These waves occur at a frequency of 7-12 Hz. Alpha waves cause our alertness to swell while feelings of anxiety and stress dissipate.
It is believed that just below our consciousness is a deep center of creativity. Alpha waves allow that creativity to be at the forefront. It is the point at which we are the best problem-solvers and visual thinkers. In fact, in biofeedback, where one is actually learning how to voluntarily control body and brain functions, Alpha-training is a treatment that’s often recommended to treat stress and anxiety. Experiencing this feeling of well-being and relaxation is essential to human function.
Beta waves occur at a higher frequency than calming Alpha waves. Feelings of alertness and the ability to concentrate and deeply focus on tasks that require it are the result of Beta waves. We perform better because of the quick pace at which neurons are firing. Beta waves occur at a frequency of 13-40 Hz.
In addition to peak cognitive levels, our dexterity is better and our vision is sharper. When we are actively engaged in an activity such as preparing for a challenging exam, learning new skillsets, or problem-solving, we are in a Beta state of mind. It is also the state of mind we’re in when engaged in a stimulating conversation or physical activity.
Like Alpha waves, Theta waves are attached to feelings of relaxation. However, this is a much deeper state of relaxation than one experiences when Alpha waves are dominant. When Theta waves are the prevailing brainwave state, the feeling is what one experiences just before sleep. The frequency range of Theta waves is 4-7 Hz.
Theta waves are meditative in nature. You may experience images similar to that of dreams or recall memories that had long been dormant. The contemplative state that one experiences with Theta waves can produce a feeling of floating on air. It is most often experienced when a person is either falling into or coming out of sleep. Deep meditation is a person’s ability to control Theta waves. This meditation, also known as “Theta meditation” can help to improve one’s health and overall functioning.
Delta waves have the slowest frequency of all brainwave states. They occur from 0-4 Hz. This is a state of deep sleep, slow breaths, and curative properties for the body. Healing can take place during this state because it is during these low brainwave frequencies in which our bodies release the Human Growth Hormone (HGH), so our cells are actually regenerating and soothing our bodies.
Delta waves occur when we are in extremely deep, dreamless sleep. These waves help induce the kind of sleep we need to restore optimal conditions for our bodies and minds.
Gamma wave (above 40Hz) sometimes called the insight wave. This range is the most recently discovered and is the fastest frequency at above 40Hz. Initial research shows Gamma waves are associated with bursts of insight, high-level information processing, higher mental activity, including perception and consciousness.
Which brainwave state are you in?