by Susan Kapatoes, MHA, CPC
What are brainwaves?
In the early 1900’s, it was discovered that our brain emits pulses of electrical signals that form distinctive patterns called brainwaves. The four primary brainwaves are Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta arranged from fastest to slowest frequency. Brainwave speed is measured in Hertz (cycles per second).
Each type of brainwave has unique benefits that are associated with specific states of consciousness. Our thoughts, moods, emotions, and biological chemistry are all impacted by our brainwaves which change according to what we’re doing and feeling.
Since most of us spend our days in the Beta state which reflects our normal waking consciousness, I will be focusing on the Alpha, Theta, and Delta frequencies and how we can incorporate the benefits of these brainwaves into our daily lives.
When are these waves present?
When slower brainwaves are overly dominant, we may feel groggy, sluggish, dreamy or tired; when faster brainwaves are overly dominant, we can feel hyper-alert, anxious, stressed out, or paranoid. Multiple brain waves may occur at the same time, but there is typically one brainwave that is dominant at any given time.
- Alpha (7-13 Hz) – when you are meditating or fully present in the moment with a quiet state of mind. You are aware of your surroundings with a calm but alert focus.
- Theta (4-7 Hz) – on the threshold of sleep, upon waking up from sleep, or deep meditation. You are aware of your surroundings in a trance-like focus.
- Delta (0-4 Hz) – deep sleep, unconscious and subconscious realm.
What is Brainwave Entrainment?
Brainwave entrainment is a method that can be utilized to help you reap the benefits that each type of brainwave has to offer. It is a process of stimulating the brain into a specific state by using a pulsing sound, light, or electromagnetic field. The pulses elicit the brain’s ‘frequency following’ response, encouraging the brainwaves to align to the frequency of the given beat. This is called Brainwave Entrainment. I will be focusing on audio brainwave entrainment which uses sound, i.e. music, to deliver these frequencies.
How does Brainwave Entrainment Music work?
Audio brainwave entrainment works in two ways. The first method is delivering music incorporated with binaural beats. For this type, you need headphones because the left and right ears need to receive two separate frequencies for the brain to perceive the third frequency. Let’s say we feed 400 Hz into one ear and 404 Hz into the other. The brain then perceives a third frequency at the mathematical difference between the two, which is 4 Hertz. The brain then follows along at this frequency and is entrained. This is known as the frequency response process. Binaural beats have a rhythmic and hypnotic sound-like quality, which is well suited for Meditation and Reiki sessions.
The second is isotones. Isochronic tones differ from binaural beats in that they use a single tone, not two. Because they use a single pulsating tone to penetrate the left and right hemispheres of the brain, they do not require headphones. Isochronic tones have a sharp, pulsating sound quality.
How You Can Use Brainwave Music
There are two ways that you can listen to music embedded with specific brainwave frequencies in order to benefit from their qualities: with headphones or without headphones. Which is better?
- With Headphones – In order to obtain the maximum benefit from your sound tones, you need to listen to the brainwave music with headphones as the binaural audio layer of the technology needs stereo headphones in order to work correctly. For those of you who are serious about healing yourselves and have committed to making lasting changes to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, I recommend using this method and contacting me for a free Health Coaching Consultation to find out more information about brainwave entrainment.
- Without Headphones – Listening to brainwave entrainment music without headphones still brings you the benefits of relaxation as the ambient background music has a calming effect on your entire nervous system. The isochronic audio layer of the technology does not require headphones and can work with regular open-air speakers. This method can be used by anyone who is curious about brainwave entrainment or as an introduction to the sound quality of the music. It can be used as an ongoing support system for both novices and seasoned clients.
Relaxation – There are benefits that you will consistently feel from all three brainwaves (alpha, theta, delta) which include a soothing calmness and relaxation, leaving you with a feeling of greater inner peace and tranquility. They will help you cope with everyday anxiety more efficiently by helping you to stay more calm during stressful situations. This ability to handle our emotions more intelligently is a reflection of our state of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
Whole Brain Synchronization – In addition to increasing our Emotional Intelligence, meditation has been proven to strengthen the link between our two brain hemispheres, according to a NeuroImage study. The right and left hemispheres of our brain communicate via neural pathways which is known as neural plasticity. We have the ability to develop new neural pathways which means we have the ability to change our behavior patterns and develop healthier habits.
Healthier Habits – Research from the University College of London shows that it takes approximately two months to form a new habit. This is why practice makes perfect when it comes to changing behaviors, improving your thought process, or integrating a physical task into your daily routine such as exercise.
This is why it takes commitment and dedication to rewire our brains so that we can make lasting changes to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The good news is that you can form healthy habits and break unhealthy ones once you’ve made up your mind that you will persevere. Over time, the new behavior will start to happen automatically.
In addition to the overall benefits, the Alpha, Theta, and Delta brainwaves offer specific benefits as they have a direct impact upon our state of consciousness and physiology. As a result, there are certain conditions that these brainwave frequencies have the potential to dissolve, eradicate, or lessen:
Alpha Waves (7-13 Hz)
- Alpha waves are known to help with concentration, studying, and learning. They help to focus the mind by quieting mental chatter. When we are able to maintain a calm focus, we can think more clearly and make better decisions.
- Alpha waves can help to dissolve phobias and release fears, especially dysfunctional thought patterns that are sabotaging your personal growth and self-confidence.
- Studies have shown that Alpha waves can help people to release addictive behavior patterns. See more information below on how brainwave entrainment can help to combat addiction.
Theta Waves (4-7 Hz)
- Theta waves are known to help combat depression and boost inspiration. They allow intuitive insights to flow to the forefront of our consciousness while in this deep state of calmness, giving us access to our own higher wisdom.
- Theta waves can help to dissolve phobias and release fears, especially dysfunctional thought patterns that are sabotaging your personal growth and self-confidence.
- Studies have shown that Theta waves can help people to release addictive behavior patterns. See more information below on how brainwave entrainment can help to combat addiction.
Delta Waves (0-4 Hz)
- Delta waves are known to help with insomnia as they are present during stages of deep sleep. They offer a refreshing sleep, allowing the body and brain to rest and repair.
- Delta waves can help us feel younger and combat the effects of anti-aging as we release the most Human Growth Hormone (HGH) when Delta waves are present.
- Delta waves can help us to restore our immune system and make it stronger. These waves offer deep healing to the human body and a sense of renewal.
When To Use these Brainwaves
ALPHA – Use Alpha brainwaves when you want to study for exams, focus at work, be more present, increase your creativity and problem solving skills, release fears/phobias/addictions.
THETA – Use Theta brainwaves when you want to feel inspired, combat depression, strengthen your intuition, increase your creativity and problem solving skills, release fears/phobias/addictions.
DELTA – Use Delta brainwaves when you want to sleep better, have more energy, restore your health, feel younger, rejuvenate your immune system.
A 2005 study published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (Scott et al) looked at 121 patients going through an inpatient substance abuse program. Alpha & Theta brainwave entrainment technology was used to put the patients’ brainwave patterns into the Alpha & Theta states. After one year, 77% patients were completely drug free.
GABA: The calm brain chemical. Reduces nerve cell excitability throughout the central nervous system.
Beta Waves: Normal waking consciousness.
Dopamine: The euphoria-producing brain chemical.
Using Brainwave Entrainment
Do you suffer from addiction? Are you feeling sluggish due to a lack of motivation? Do you feel tired upon waking from a full night’s sleep? Are you combating bouts of depression? Do you need to study for an exam and have problems concentrating?
Brainwave entrainment technology can help to improve these conditions and more.
Interested in learning more?
Susan Kapatoes, MHA, CPC is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Nutritionist, Reiki Master, Meditation Instructor, and published author. She is the owner of Inspire Your Journey and a Wellness Partner with Amare Global, the Mental Wellness Company. She is available for appointments at the SheBreathes Balance & Wellness Studio in Walpole, MA.
EOC Institute – 7 Compelling Reasons Meditation Can Conquer Any Addiction. (2018). Retrieved from https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/7-reasons-meditation-can-naturally-beat-addiction/
EOC Institute – 7 Key Meditation Chemicals: Melatonin, Serotonin, GABA, DHEA, Endorphins. (2018). Retrieved from https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/dhea_gaba_cortisol_hgh_melatonin_serotonin_endorphins/
How long does it take to form a habit?. (2009). University College London. UK Health Behaviour Research Centre. Retrieved from https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0908/09080401
Luders, E., Phillips, O., Clark, K., Kurth, F., Toga, A., & Narr, K. (2012). Bridging the hemispheres in meditation: Thicker callosal regions and enhanced fractional anisotropy (FA) in long-term practitioners. Neuroimage, 61(1), 181-187. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.026