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What is a Delta Brainwave?

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/17/2007 | Health

Most of us love to get a good night's sleep. One of the ways that our brain helps us to achieve a truly sound recuperative sleep is to slip into a Delta brainwave emission. Here is some information on Delta brainwaves, and why the state is so important to our emotional, mental, and physical health.

Delta brainwave activity is the state where brain wave activity is at the greatest amplitude and the slowest frequency. With a range that is typically around one to four cycles per second, Delta brainwaves represent the most calm and restful state that is possible for the brain to generate and still be functioning. Where we fall in that range with our Delta activity has a lot to do with the quality of our sleep.

One would think that the lowest possible Delta brainwave activity would result in the most beneficial sleep. Interestingly enough, there are those who think this is not the case. The lowest Delta brain wave activity is present in deep sleep that does not involve the creation of dreams. Dream actually occur as the sleeping individual slips from a Delta state into a low Theta state, resulting in rapid eye movement and active dreaming. Many people believe the very best sleep occurs during those ninety minute cycles of this active dreaming, after which the individual may ease back into a fully Delta state until the mind for some reason rouses back into a low Theta state and stimulates another session of dreams.

Others contend that while dreaming certainly is beneficial to emotional health, the deep undisturbed sleep that only comes with a Delta state is in fact what allows our bodies to perform the functions of healing and rejuvenating. Proponents of this theory point to the fact that as far back as we can remember, the quality of sleep has played a huge role in how quickly human beings would recover from fevers and colds, as well as begin to heal from invasive surgical procedures.

Whatever the theory, the fact remains that all of us experience Delta states when in a deep sleep. No doubt this state does aid in our overall ability to function, and at times we may feel at less than optimum capacity because of a lack of this type of brainwave activity. The sensible thing to do, obviously, is make sure that we allow plenty of time for sleep, and prepare for it properly.

By making sure we do not eat heavily too close to bedtime and that we avoid substances such as sugar, caffeine, and other substances that may make it harder for our bodies to relax, we set the stage for a good night's sleep. In addition, we can employ such devices as breathing exercises to begin the process of moving us from Beta activity, through the levels of Alpha waves, then on to Theta, and finally dozing off into a Delta state.

Understanding the way the brain works and how we need Delta states in order to fully function during our waking hours can help us to limit the number of hours we engage in stressful behavior each day, and make sure we have time for sleep. For more information on the importance of the Delta state to your health, check with your family physician.