What exactly are brain waves?

Our neurons are constantly firing and communicating with one another; this neural activity produces brainwaves that can be recorded by a device called an electroencephalogram (EEG). If firing of neurons is synchronised, we observe large amplitude, low frequency brain waves, but if it is desynchronised, we observe small amplitude, high frequency brain waves.

What are the different types of brain waves?

There are 5 different brain waves which have different frequencies. Below they are described from highest to lowest frequency:

  • When we are alert and in a heightened state of concentration our brains produce gamma waves.
  • Beta waves are also associated with alertness and a focused mind, however rapid beta waves are linked to stress, insomnia and anxiety.
  • When we are awake but relaxing with our eyes closed (‘quiet wakefulness’) we produce alpha waves.
  • As we progress into a light sleep, we experience theta wave activity. These waves are also present during meditation and creative thinking.
  • Finally, during slow wave (deep) sleep we produce delta waves.

How to adjust your brain waves for a restorative night’s sleep

Delta brain waves are indicative of a restful sleep; here are some proven ways to increase them:

  • Use relaxing scents: Lavender, a key note in our Calm range, has been linked to stress relief and has been shown to aid sleep. One study monitored participants sleep cycles using an EEG and observed an increase in deep sleep and sleep quality following lavender inhalation. An added bonus of our Calm products is that they all contain limonene which has been shown to increase sleep onset latency (how long it takes you to fall asleep). So, by using our Calm products you will not only have a better night’s sleep, but also be able to fall asleep faster! We recommend our Calm Shower Cream for a tranquil bathing experience, or lighting our Calm Candle to create a relaxing ambiance.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Another study showed that a typical Western diet, high in refined sugars and carbohydrates, was associated with a reduced delta to beta wave ratio, and a reduction in deep sleep. To ensure a restful night’s sleep, it’s important your diet is varied and includes healthy sources of proteins, fats and omega-3s (e.g avocados or wild salmon), complex carbohydrates (e.g. sweet potatoes), and lots of dark, leafy greens (e.g. spinach; these are high in magnesium, a key mineral that supports our nervous system and sleep).

How to adjust your brain waves to feel relaxed

 Alpha brain waves are associated with a relaxed mind, and according to one study they can even alleviate symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder. Below are proven ways to increase your alpha brain waves: 

  • Meditation: Studies performed on Buddhist monks showed meditation can increase alpha wave activity. If you’re new to meditation, try our step-by-step mediation guide. We also offer carefully curated treatments at The House of Kalmar that incorporate guided meditation to truly align your mind, body and soul. Take our Soulstate questionnaire to identify which of your soul states needs more attention, and which treatment would benefit you most.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol: A study showed caffeine can temporarily reduce alpha waves. Similarly, another study revealed alcohol consumption is associated with reduced alpha wave activity.
  • Binaural beats: Binaural beats are becoming an increasingly popular method of brain entrainment. Here’s how they work. Two sounds of slightly different frequencies are played at the same and one is picked up by each ear; the frequency difference between these two sounds (the ‘binaural beat’) is then what we hear. This stimulates your brain to produce waves with the same frequency, and reach a specific state of conspicuousness (e.g. alpha state). The key thing here is that you wear headphones, so that one only frequency is played in each ear. A study found 70 % of participants experienced a reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) levels after listening to binaural beats.
  •  Classical music and The Mozart Effect: Research has shown that listening to classical music can promote alpha wave activity; this phenomenon is known as The Mozart Effect. So, next time you want to unwind and relax play some Mozart or Beethoven to really tap into those alpha brain waves.


September 14, 2023 — Kalmar Journal