Brainwaves : a healthy balance is so important
All brainwave states and frequencies perform multiple functions and benefits. Achieving a healthy brainwave balance is very important.
While rather technical, here you can get a picture of what brainwaves are like and what they do.
We humans have different levels of brainwave frequencies. They are presented here in descending order of frequency. From fastest to slowest, as measured in Hertz (Hz) or cycles per second.
Gamma & Hyper Gamma 38-100+Hz
High level integration and synchronization of brain centres involved in learning, memory, thought generation, task processing, motor function; improved creativity, comprehension and concentration.
This fascinating, high energy brainwave is increasingly used by clinicians for assistance with depression and certain learning disorders. Considered by Nobel Prize winner Sir Francis Crick and others to be the key to cognition and the brain’s optimal frequency of functioning., 40 Hz Gamma in particular, has recently been shown to be a important frequency band for higher mental functioning, self-awareness and other aspects of heightened consciousness and peak performance. Higher than normal resting levels of Gamma have been found to occur in the frontal lobes of Buddhist monks with extensive meditation experience. Whales and dolphins are known to operate in this frequency. Gamma is also thought to have an “anti-depressant” effect with some researchers believing increasing Gamma levels maybe helpful for Alzheimer’s disease and even Autism.
Beta 15-38 Hz
Focused, analytical, rational, wide awake, alert awareness; concentrated, focused mind; heightened sensory perception, emotional stability.
Beta is a “fast” high frequency bandwidth typically associated with our normal state of alert, eyes open waking consciousness in which our neocortex (new brain) is actively firing. In a Beta brainwave state, a person is aware of self and surroundings, alert and active, with increased mental ability and focus, peak states of concentration and visual acuity. However certain higher levels can create anxiety or agitation and are never used in our sessions. Beta based protocols are commonly used to assist with “slow wave” conditions like depression and AD/HD. It is also used for improving general brain fitness, performance and focus, especially at an optimal 18.5 Hz. It is also an excellent frequency to “wake up” your brain when you are feeling tired. it is typically seen on both sides of the head in symmetrical distribution although most evident frontally.
Sensory Motor Rhythm (SMR) 12.5-15 Hz
Physical and mental calm, non-impulsive, external awareness, quiet alertness.
SMR brainwaves (a sub-band or slow form of Beta) are characterized by a state of being relaxed but at the same time alert, focused and attentive. They occur most often when the body is inactive, and as they reduce the urge to move, can be helpful in overcoming sleep related problems such as “restless leg syndrome”. High SMR levels are typically found in athletes and other physically healthy people- which may also account for their generally healthy sleeping patterns. It is believed that sufferers of AD/HD can be helped by increasing these brainwaves. This general purpose bandwidth has many useful applications including benefits for concentration, reading speed and energy levels, as well as offering help for insomnia, depression, anxiety and stress.
Alpha 8-12.5 Hz
Relaxed, tranquil consciousness: pleasant inward awareness: “super learning”; body/mind integration.
Alpha brainwave frequencies have many applications and benefits. Alpha is associated with a relaxed waking state and typically occurs when we shut our eyes, calm down and begin to withdraw from external sensory stimulation and the electrical activity that it produces. it is the dominant rhythm in normal relaxed adults, especially beyond the age of 13. Creative people tend to increase Alpha when they are listening or arriving at a solution. Einstein was believed to have been in a semi-permanent Alpha brainwave state. The Alpha/Theta border (7-8 Hz) contains the frequency known as Schumann Resonance – the resonant frequency of the earth’s electromagnetic field and one in which creative insights and intense transformative states are thought to occur. Alpha is excellent for relaxation, visualization and creating “super learning” states, and also has had a long clinical association with anxiety and stress relief and, more recently, for helping with autism, depression and AD/HD. It is dominant in light meditation, contemplative prayer and states of relaxation and is associated with serotonin production. Alpha brainwaves are usually abolished by opening the eyes and active cognition. It is believed that Alpha brainwaves in the right (emotional) hemisphere of the brain should typically occur 10 to 15 % more than in the left in order to ensure a sense of well-being. This is one reason reducing Alpha levels in the left hemisphere and replacing them with faster Beta has proven useful for treating depression.
Theta 4-8 Hz
Increased memory, creativity, imagery and visualization; free-flowing lucid thought; spatial navigation tasks; “super learning”, inspiration, drowsiness and heightened suggestibility. REM sleep.
Descending from Alpha brainwaves, we move down into Theta and the deeper subcortical regions of the brain. Classed as “slow Wave” activity, these sleep inducing, low frequency brainwaves are associated with creativity, dreamlike “flow states”, memory consolidation, vivid imagery, extrasensory perception skills and a great deal of other sub-conscious activity. Dominant in deep meditation, trance and REM states, Theta brainwave states are also associated with the production of many vital neurochemicals including vasopressin and catecholamine. It is thought to be the optimum level for deep thought and the reception of information beyond normal consciousness as well as the gateway for learning and memory. In fact, many therapists consider that working with clients in Theta (hypnogogic states) provides the optimal state for changing unwanted sub-conscious behaviours and programs. Additionall, it is also believed to reflect activity from the limbic system. Theta is abnormal in healthy awake adults but perfectly normal in children up to 13 years which may help account for their heightened uptake of information and learning. However, over production of Theta (especially during the day) is commonly linked with “slow wave) conditions like depression, AD/HD and PTSD. As always, a healthy balance of appropriate brainwaves is crutial for optimal functioning.
Delta & Sub-Delta 0.1-4 Hz
Deep dreamless sleep, regeneration and self healing
Delta and Sub-Delta are the slowest/lowest frequency brainwaves in which we are usually completely unconscious and catatonic (although new evidence suggests we may maintain slight consciousness in Delta). They are predominantly during deep sleep, restorative non REM sleep stages 3 and 4 when there is very little activity in the neocortex (new brain). Delta/Sub-Delta brainwaves tend to be the highest in amplitude and the slowest waves and the dominant rhythm in infants up to 1 year. Associated with feelings of deep peace, Delta brainwaves are known to assist with pituitary release of HGH (Human Growth Hormones) and assist with immune functioning, healing, regeneration and skin care and to soothe the limbic/emotional system. Delta also contains a window frequency associated with heart/brain coherence.
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