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What is a Theta Brainwave?

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/17/2007 | Health

When we think in terms of Theta brainwaves, some of the images that come to mind are of catching ourselves daydreaming for no apparent reason, or driving along a highway and suddenly realizing we don't remember the last couple of miles. In each example, our brains were emitting Theta brainwaves.

Theta brainwaves, which are said to have a frequency range between five and eight cycles a second, are the link between Alpha waves, which indicate a relaxed state that is perfect for learning, and the Delta state, which is the frequency level our brains emit when we are asleep. Theta waves are usually produced during low impact activity, especially activities that are repetitious in nature.  To cite an earlier example, driving on a straight highway requires far less concentration that driving on a curvy country road. As a result, Beta activity would be present on the country road, but Theta activity would be produced while on the predictable highway.

What is interesting about the Theta state is that many people experience a flash of ideas or thoughts that just seem to come to them without any effort on their part. Some people theorize that the Theta state is a good example of the sub-conscious taking over from the conscious mind to work on some problem or issue that has been bothering us to some degree. When an acceptable response has been formulated, it is then pushed back into the conscious mind, where the individual then perceives it while in the Theta state.

One sign of Theta activity is a feeling of drowsiness. A good example of this is the period when you have retired for the night and cut off the light. It is during this time that most of us seek out a comfortable position and upon finding it, begin to settle in. As we lay still, our minds become calmer and we can feel our whole bodies begin to feel lighter, almost as if we are drifting. When we begin to experience a state such as this, we have achieved a Theta state.

A Theta state is very healthy for us, whether we are experiencing the state just before we drift off into sleep, or if we are daydreaming while engaged in some repetitive activity, such as shaving, showering or just taking a break from work. The state gives us a chance to rest from Beta activity, allow our minds to wander into areas where it cannot go when we are focused on executing a difficult task. When we are freed from the need for focused thinking for a time, our minds can perform many wonderful tasks, including coming up with those creative responses to issues that have been in the backs of our minds for some time.

As out society seems to increase in pace with every passing year, people are paying more attention to the need to achieve restful states when possible. This has resulted in a number of concepts of how to help us settle down from a hard day and enter into a Theta state. For more information about research into the Theta state and its emotional and physical benefits, do a search on the Internet, or ask your doctor to recommend some resources.