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4 Types of Brainwaves and How They Impact Your Mental Health

October 24, 2018

Feeling tired, unfocused or foggy?

Your brainwaves could be to blame.

At MyBrainDR, we see patients every week who are experiencing depression, insomnia, hyperactivity and other disruptive conditions and patterns. Each of these conditions can be better understood when you uncover the role that brainwaves play in your mental health and functioning. Understanding what brainwaves are, how they work and the role they play in your overall well-being can help you make informed decisions about your health and create healthier, more functional behaviors.

What are Brainwaves?

Your brain uses electrical signals to communicate and organize input and process information. Every time your brain completes a task or has an activity, it generates brainwaves. These waves, or traces of electrical activity, can be seen via the brain scan process. Electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment can map the activity in the brain and provide you with a clear picture of the brainwaves a patient is experiencing.

The brain scan process can reveal and measure four distinct types of brainwaves a patient is experiencing. This information can then be used to uncover unhealthy patterns that could be causing anything from fatigue to insomnia. Understanding the different types of brainwaves and how the MyBrainDR team uses them can enhance your understanding of neurofeedback and how this process may be able to help you.

4 Types of Brainwaves

Brainwaves are identified by the electrical patterns they make and their frequency. Each type indicates a different state, from the dreamy, relaxed Delta to the snappy, active Beta waves. Each type is detailed below:

Delta Brainwaves: This brainwave is a low frequency and most often occurs while you are sleeping, relaxing or deeply meditating. When you enter a Delta state, you are at rest or deeply asleep. Delta brainwaves are essential for restoration and rejuvenation.

Theta Brainwaves: Like Delta brainwaves, theta waves occur when you are relaxing or sleeping, and indicate dreaming and focus. Most of us dream in 90-minute cycles – as your dreams become more focused and energetic, your brainwaves turn from the resting Delta to the more active Theta.

Alpha Brainwaves: You’re awake and alert, but doing a restful, thoughtful activity. You could be reading, praying, or relaxing, but you are in an awake state. If you read before bed, maintain a journal, or do other activities to wind down from the day before sleeping, you’re in an Alpha state.

Beta Brainwaves: You experience Beta brainwaves during most of your waking hours. When you are working, thinking, doing homework or hobbies that require active attention, you’ll have measurable Beta brain waves. Since our waking hours are packed with things that need cognitive attention, creativity and focus, Beta brainwaves are the most common type we see in brain scans.

Brainwaves and Neurofeedback

When you are trying to focus or perform tasks, but feel tired, fatigued and foggy, it could be because you are experiencing the wrong kind of brainwaves for the task at hand. Ideally, when you are thinking, studying or working, you should be experiencing measurable Beta brainwaves . If you are instead experiencing Theta or Alpha waves, your brain may need to be redirected or retrained, resulting in better focus. We use neurofeedback to reset any brainwave patterns that are misaligned, resulting in healthier patterns and better results for you.

Your brainwaves also matter during sleep. Several of the more restful brainwave patterns exist when you are preparing to sleep and actually sleeping. If you are unable to enter a restorative, deeply resting state, you will never feel rested and you’ll simply feel unwell. Taking a sedative can help you physically feel tired enough to sleep, but it won’t solve the problem (and you’ll likely feel foggy and unclear the following day). With Neurofeedback, your brain can be retrained, and you’ll end up able to get quality sleep, without medication or other interventions.

Your brainwaves play an essential role in your mental health; one of the first things we do at MyBrainDR is talk with you to gain a full understanding of what you are experiencing and determine if you are a suitable candidate for neurofeedback. Next, we perform an EEG to measure which brainwaves you are experiencing; we analyze your results to spot misalignments and unhealthy patterns.

We then craft a training program that tackles your specific challenges and goals; this process is designed to retrain your brain into a healthier pattern. As your brain “learns” these new patterns, your brainwaves will begin to change as well, resulting in scans that align more closely with the activities you are performing.

For many patients, the neurofeedback results in more clarity, more sleep and even enhanced focus and performance. If you’ve been struggling with depression, feeling overly tired or simply like you can’t focus, then recovering your natural healthy brain patterns might make a significant difference in your professional and personal life.

Contact us to learn more about neurofeedback and to take the first step towards understanding how your brainwaves might be contributing to your overall mood and performance.