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It can be difficult to understand how brainwaves impact your everyday life. Brainwaves are rhythmic and repetitive electrical activity generated by neural tissue in the nervous system as a reaction to stimuli. They are electrical activity patterns that occur in the brain and are necessary for all elements of brain activity, including thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Brainwaves have different names: alpha, beta, theta, delta, and gamma.


Brainwaves, also known as neural oscillations, synchronize neural activities within brain regions. They also enhance the precise temporal coordination of neuronal processes. These frequencies vary and are measured in hertz or cycles per second. Abnormal brainwave activity in the brain can impair control, focus, and concentration.



Brain waves are crucial in mental health because any abnormalities in neural oscillation can influence the development of mental health conditions, such as:



Anxiousness can be connected with lower alpha, delta, and theta waves, along with potentially higher beta waves. When brainwaves become imbalanced and poorly regulated, they may chemically induce anxiety. High beta activity is also closely linked to anxiety and nervousness. Those who suffer from panic attacks or anxiety disorder usually have too much beta wave activity in their brain.


Rhythms produced by the brain can be used to predict sensitivity to pain accurately. Alpha waves may also help an individual ignore chronic pain.


Recent studies have shown a link between an overabundance of gamma waves in the brain and schizophrenia. Gamma waves in some areas of the brain may cause hyperactivity. Lack of sleep can result in excess gamma waves triggering schizophrenia symptoms.


Abnormal neural oscillations and excessive gamma waves in the brain can cause increased activity, potentially resulting in delusions and hallucinations. Delta waves appear in normal brains during sleep but occur during wakefulness in schizophrenic brains leading to delusions.


According to new research, the amplitudes of gamma waves may contribute to depression. However, when alpha waves increase, the individual may experience fewer symptoms of depression. This increase in alpha brain waves can aid in treating resistant depression.



Without a proper understanding of brainwave frequencies, it may be tricky to answer, “what are brainwaves?” The types of brainwave frequencies include:


Gamma: ~ 38 – 100 Hz

Integration/synchronization of brain centres involved in learning, memory, thought generation, task processing, motor function and sensory binding; heightened creativity, comprehension, concentration and impulse control.

Many researchers consider this high frequency brainwave to be the key to cognition and the brain’s optimal frequency of functioning - especially at 40 Hz. Gamma is thought to act as a binding mechanism that holographically synthesizes and unifies data throughout the brain, analogous to the 'oil in an engine' integrating other functions.


Research has linked gamma frequencies to higher mental functioning, self-awareness, self-control, problem solving, language development in children, memory, and many aspects of heightened consciousness and perception. In fact, as gamma activity is known to disappear during anesthesia, it may be essential to consciousness itself.

Those with low gamma activity have been found to be more prone to depression, stress and unfocused or impulsive thinking. Clinicians have used gamma frequency stimulation to assist in the treatment of language and learning disabilities (especially in children), depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s (those with this disease typically produce very little gamma activity), and even autism.

Gamma may be present in virtually all areas of the brain in both adults and children and is known to occur when we are simultaneously processing information in both hemispheres, during REM, the formation of new brain circuits and in ‘bursts’ during auditory and other forms of sensory processing.

Significantly higher than normal resting levels have been noted in the frontal lobes of Buddhist monks with extensive ‘loving kindness meditation’ experience - which also suggests neuroplastic change from long term training. Whales and dolphins are also known to operate in this frequency.



Beta: ~ 15 – 38 Hz

Focused, analytical, rational, wide awake, alert awareness; concentrated, focused mind, heightened sensory perception, emotional stability, visual acuity, cognitive control of motor activity

Beta is a ‘fast’ higher frequency bandwidth typically associated with outward awareness, full alertness and rapid thought generation. Beta production usually begins at around 12 years of age and is most likely your dominant frequency right now as you’re reading this.

Clinical studies of beta 2 link it to full awareness of self and surroundings, energy, alertness, activity, increased mental ability and focus, peak states of concentration, motivation and possibly, visual acuity. It’s also been associated with IQ increase, perhaps in a similar manner to 'smart drugs' or nootropics, by stimulating overall brain activity.

Beta activity often produces the overactive “chatter-box/ monkey-mind” that prevents us from sleeping.


Those with ‘slow wave’ conditions like A.D.D., ADHD and depression typically exhibit low waking beta wave activity and may be prescribed stimulants to increase daytime beta activity and/or block slower frequencies.

The beta range falls into three classifications:  

• Beta 1 (~12.5 Hz – 15 Hz): Slow or Low Beta wave activity.

• Beta 2 (~ 15 Hz – 23 Hz): This mid-range beta is frequently used by clinicians. Some consider 18.5 Hz in particular to be an optimal frequency for focus and concentration.

• Beta 3 (~ 23 Hz – 40 Hz): This fast beta activity, especially in its higher range has been associated with hyper-arousal/hyper-vigilance, anxiety, stress, paranoia, excessive energy and ‘burnout’.  

In clinical applications, Beta 1 and 2 brainwave stimulation has been used to promote wakefulness and alertness, focus, mood elevation, general cognitive performance and for assistance with depression and ADHD.


Alpha: ~ 7.5 – 12.5 Hz  

Information processing; relaxed, tranquil consciousness and inward awareness; creative flow states; the coalescence of different frequencies; improved HRV, serotonin production, memory and dream recall; reactivity to disturbing noises in sleep

Alpha activity begins at around the age of 6 years. In adults it produces a characteristic calm, creative 'flow-state' state when we close our eyes and begin to withdraw from external sensory stimulation such as when 'day dreaming'. It's often referred to as the bridge between waking and sleeping.

Alpha activity may be more pronounced in creative, artistic and entrepreneurial people. It has been linked with the ‘aha’ experience of creative insight and ‘out of the box’ thinking. EEG monitoring of Alfred Einstein showed he produced consistent alpha-band activity while solving complex mathematical tasks.


Studies suggest that while upper or mid-range alpha may assist with these kinds of activities, its lower range may be counterproductive for highly attentive, focused critical thinking or technical, detail orientated work.


Alpha stimulation has a long and successful history of clinical applications for stress, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, depression, ADHD, autism, PTSD (thought to block alpha activity), peak performance and headache relief.  At, or close to 10.2 Hz, it has proven helpful for seniors (who usually experience a slowing of alpha frequencies as they age), and facilitating memory in both younger and older adults.


Alpha frequencies also have a long association in sports psychology and personal development for enhanced visualization, meditation, internal goal setting processes and 'flow states'.

As a point of interest, sports professionals have been observed producing a surge of alpha in their left hemisphere just prior to a successful move or strategy - and a corresponding surge of beta when they fail. Likewise, Einstein was also observed to drop out of alpha-band activity into beta whenever he realized an error in his calculations.


Alpha stimulation has also been shown to assist with emotional stability, reductions in cortisol (a major stress hormone), serotonin production and significant improvements in heart rate variability (HRV). Other studies suggest frequencies at the alpha/theta threshold promote the most cerebral blood flow.


Theta: ~ 4 – 7.5 Hz

Memory consolidation; creativity, imagery and visualization; free-flowing lucid thought; spatial navigation tasks; inspiration and intuition; REM; processing of new (episodic) information; emotional processing and heightened suggestibility.

Theta production begins at around 2 years of age. Arising from the right hemisphere and the deeper subcortical regions of the brain, theta frequencies have long been considered the ‘doorway to the subconscious’.

These sleep inducing, low-frequency brainwaves have been associated with deep relaxation, creativity, memory consolidation, emotional processing, vivid imagery, extrasensory perception, intuitive insights, REM states and a great deal of other subconscious activity and phenomena.

Hypnotherapists in particular, consider theta - which is associated with the highly suggestible 'hypnagogic trance' - to be the optimal state for accessing the right hemisphere and changing unwanted subconscious behaviors and programs, the reception of information beyond normal waking consciousness, and the gateway for learning and memory. Deeply suppressed emotional material and childhood memories appear to be most readily accessed and released in theta, under expert guidance. 

Dominant in very deep meditation, prayer, hypnotic trance and REM states, theta is also associated with enhanced immune function and neurochemicals including vasopressin and catecholamine.

Pronounced theta activity while awake during the day however is considered abnormal in healthy adults, and may be indicative of slow wave conditions like depression, ADD/ADHD and PTSD.


Nonetheless, it's perfectly normal in young children from 2-6 where it facilitates their rapid learning abilities and vivid, creative imaginations. It's during their highly suggestible 'theta years' that a child's fundamental, life-shaping beliefs, experiences and assumptions about the world are 'programmed' into their subconscious. 

That's why loving, positive early parenting and safe, supportive environments are absolutely vital for their best future - and ours!
The theta bandwidth is used extensively in our deep relaxation and sleep protocols.



Delta & Sub-Delta:~ 0.5 – 4 Hz

Deep dreamless sleep, immunity, regeneration and healing; anti-ageing hormones, cortisol reduction and pituitary release of H.G.H.; extremely deep relaxation

Delta waves are present at birth and are known to persist in the waking state of children to around 5 years. Both delta and sub-delta are vital for deep, restorative sleep and its many associated benefits.


During production of these very low frequency, high amplitude brainwaves we’re usually completely unconscious and catatonic in non-REM sleep stages 3 and 4. However, brain scans have shown that some advanced meditators, such as yogis and monks, can enter delta states and remain there with full conscious awareness.

Delta has been associated with physical/emotional healing and immune functioning, memory consolidation, the production of anti-ageing hormones including DHEA and melatonin, significant stress reduction (calming of the limbic system) and the lowering of cortisol.

It has also been linked to pituitary release of trace amounts of human growth hormone (H.G.H), gamma - hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), and of course the many essential benefits of a goodnights sleep - which include accelerated muscle repair and optimal fat burning!

Delta production typically declines with age and, by adolescence, levels may decrease by about 25%. Seniors and the elderly may produce very little delta activity during sleep.

Studies suggest delta is typically under-produced in chronic stress or sleep conditions (including those who choose voluntarily sleep curtailment), and that a lack of this frequency may play a role in Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and schizophrenia.

Not surprisingly, the clinical use of delta and sub-delta brainwave stimulation is primarily used for stress and sleep related issues like insomnia.

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Sensorimotor Rhythms (SMR): ~ 12.5 – 15 Hz

Physical and mental calm; non-impulsive, external awareness; improved energy levels; flow states; healthy sleep patterns

SMR rhythms are associated with the Mu wave and ‘flow states’ that are relaxed yet alert, focused and attentive. Some researchers refer to them as an 'idling' rhythm. They occur most notably when the body is inactive after physical exercise, and in clinical trials, have proven helpful in assisting with sleep related problems including restless leg syndrome.

High SMR levels have been noted in athletes and other physically fit people, which may also account for their generally healthy sleeping patterns, while those with insomnia often exhibit lower than normal levels. 

SMR brainwave stimulation has been used by clinicians to assist with concentration, reading speed and energy levels as well as for help with epilepsy, ADHD, insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress and autism. It may also be particularly helpful for those lacking in physical fitness or exercise.


Brainwaves are crucial because they influence your emotional and mental state. A change in regular brain functioning can cause an imbalance in mental well-being. An electroencephalogram (EEG) can help detect an unusual shift in brain wave patterns.

An electroencephalogram test uses electrodes connected to the scalp to assess electrical activity and problems in the brain. Brain cells are always active and interact with electrical impulses even while sleeping. On an EEG recording, this activity appears as wavy lines.



While figuring out “what are brainwaves?”, you may also be wondering if they have any added benefits. However, there are many benefits of neural oscillations in the brain. They include:


The production of beta waves keeps you mentally alert and focused. Mental alertness and focus are necessary for clear and analytical thinking. For example, the production of beta waves during times of mental effort makes complex projects easier.


The production of gamma waves in the brain helps with brain function and memory. Gamma waves improve memory and learning capabilities. It also helps with information processing and makes memorizing data easier.


Alpha waves are dominant when you are in a meditative and calm state. Alpha waves help mental coordination, calmness, alertness, mind and body integration, and learning.


The human brain produces enough gamma waves when engaged and focused. With gamma waves, staying alert and increasing concentration becomes easier.


Brain waves, like alpha waves, help to reduce anxiety and stress on the brain. When the brain produces alpha waves, it enables you to get into a state of calm and rest, and you may become less anxious.

What are binaural beats?

Brain waves are patterns of electrical activity that occur in your brain. They’re created by the millions of neurons in your brain that use this type of activity to relay information. Depending on what you’re doing during the day, those brain waves will change. 

The more you’re aroused and engaged in an activity, the faster those brain waves will be. On the flip side, when you’re in a sleepy or meditative state, those brain waves will slow.

By using binaural beats and tuning your brain to a specific frequency much like you would tune into a station on a radio, “you can potentially influence your brain’s wave activity and induce a variety of desirable states, such as relaxation or focus, depending on the frequency of the binaural beat,” Kelvas says. 


For example:  Let’s say you’re listening to a sound in your left ear that’s at a frequency of 132 Hertz (Hz). And in your right ear, you’re listening to a sound that’s at a frequency of 121 Hz.

Your brain, however, gradually falls into synchrony with the difference — or 11 Hz. Instead of hearing two different tones, you instead hear a tone at 11 Hz (in addition to the two tones given to each ear).

Binaural beats are considered auditory illusions. For a binaural beat to work, the two tones have to have frequencies less than 1000 Hz Trusted Source, and the difference between the two tones can’t be more than 30 Hz. The tones also have to be listened to separately, one through each ear.

Binaural beats have been explored in music and are sometimes used to help tune instruments, such as pianos and organs. More recently, they have been connected to potential health benefits.

What health benefits are binaural beats claimed to have?

Binaural beats are claimed to induce the same mental state associated with a meditation practice, but much more quickly. In effect, binaural beats are said to:


  • reduce anxiety

  • increase focus and concentration

  • lower stress

  • increase relaxation

  • foster positive moods

  • promote creativity

  • help manage pain

Meditation is the practice of calming the mind and tuning down the number of random thoughts that pass through it.

A regular meditation practice has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, slow down the rate of brain aging and memory loss, promote mental health, and lengthen attention span. Practicing meditation regularly can be quite difficult, so people have looked to technology for help.

Binaural beats between 1 and 30 Hz are alleged to create the same brain wave pattern that one would experience during meditation. When you listen to a sound with a certain frequency, your brain waves will synchronize with that frequency.

The theory is that binaural beats can help create the frequency needed for your brain to create the same waves commonly experienced during a meditation practice. The use of binaural beats in this way is sometimes called brain wave entrainment technology.

How to use:

When listening to binaural beats, it’s best to sit or lay down in a comfortable place free of distractions. Listening to the binaural beat audio for at least 30 minutes each day in your headphones ensures that the rhythm is entrained (has fallen into synchronization) throughout the brain.

You can experiment with the length of time you listen to the binaural beats to find out what works for you. For example, if you’re experiencing high levels of anxiety or stress, you may want to listen to the audio for a full hour or longer.

Remember, you must use headphones for binaural beats to work. You may also want to listen with your eyes closed.


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