Brainwaves 101

Did you know that your brain is an electrochemical organ, meaning that if you hooked up enough wires to your scalp, you could power a light bulb? The electrical activity that emanates from your neurons communicating is measured in the form of brainwaves. There are 5 types of brainwaves, each associated with a specific mental-emotional state:⁠
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Beta waves are what most of us experience most of the time in our always-on society. Staying too long in a beta wave state can zap our energy and reduce emotional awareness and creativity⁠
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Alpha waves are generated when you're in a relaxed, reflective state - the feeling you get when you've successful shifted into wind down mode getting ready for bed. (Regular meditation has been found to increase alpha activity and decrease beta in waking states)⁠
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Once you fall asleep, you experience theta waves (associated with dreaming) and delta waves (which promote deep, restorative, dreamless slumber). Theta waves also occur in meditation and are linked with the hypnotic flow state associated with peak performance, as well as the autopilot mode we shift into when we’re doing something we’ve done a million times before, like driving home from work on a familiar route. We often experience a burst of creativity at these times because when we're in these flow states, we disengage the mental chatter and just be, allowing insight to bubble up.⁠
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Finally, there are gamma waves, the highest frequency brain state, also associated with insight, peak focus, and expanded consciousness. These are generated in deep meditation and when the brain is learning new information, sharply concentrating, or storing memories. It turns out this hyper-focused but calm state is highly neuroprotective - recent NIA & MIT research shows that stimulating gamma waves reduces Alzheimer’s-related proteins and boosts the activity of your brain's immune cells in clearing harmful debris.