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The Various Brainwave States

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/17/2007 | Health

A brainwave state is a resonance within the brain. Brainwaves resonate at specific frequencies; each different frequency range is a different brainwave state. There are five specific brainwave states; Delta, at frequencies of 0Hz to 4Hz; Theta, with frequencies ranging from 5Hz to 8Hz; Alpha, whose frequencies range from 9Hz to 12Hz; Beta from 13Hz to 40Hz; and the rare gamma, with frequencies of 41Hz and higher. These 'states', each represented by a different letter of the Greek alphabet, mean more than you might think. When you engage in different activities, your brain resonates at different frequencies. When you are engaged in lively conversation or focusing on a specific task at work, your waves will be in the Beta range, with a resonance between 13 and 40 Hz. When you're relaxing, your brainwaves will be in the Theta range, between 4 and 8 Hz.

Knowing the difference between brainwave states is important for anyone who wants to use brainwave technology to enhance their meditation or their mental performance. Brainwave technology takes advantage of the different frequencies of the brainwave states to help you focus on your current project or slip into deep and dreamless sleep, depending on which one you want.

Let's take a moment and look at the different brainwave states, starting from the lowest and progressing into the highest.

Delta: this is the very lowest brainwave state. When your brain is resonating at Delta frequencies, you are in a deep, dreamless sleep. More intense than mere relaxation, Delta brainwave technology is most often used in healing and regeneration. Sometimes Delta brainwave technology is used in some advanced forms of meditation, for getting in touch with your subconscious. Most people, however, will find themselves falling into a deep and dreamless sleep when they trigger their brain to resonate at Delta frequencies.

Theta: this brainwave state is for heavy meditation, light sleep, dreaming, deep relaxation, and, sometimes, creativity. Both dreaming (when asleep) and heavy daydreaming are part of Theta brainwaves. Theta is that moment when we know we're dreaming, just before waking up, when we're part of our dream landscapes--and we know it.

Alpha: this is your relaxed, creative, contemplative brain state. Alpha brainwaves are good for reflecting over creative challenges, and coming up with solutions to problems that you might not have thought of before. Alpha is also good for stress relief. This is the brainwave of spas and scented candles, bubble baths and massages.

Beta: this is the brainwave state of energy and peak performance. When your brainwaves resonate at a Beta frequency, you're alert and peppy, ready to solve problems, make presentations, conquer the boardroom or take on the world. A brain operating at a Beta frequency reacts more rapidly, knows answers faster, and is at a higher performance level.

Gamma: this is the most rare of all the brainwave states. Gamma waves can only be sustained for short periods of time, when the brain is processing huge amounts of information and operating at extremely high levels of cognition and comprehension. It is not suggested that you use brainwave technology to access gamma brain waves, since the human brain was never meant to stay that active for long.