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What Are Brainwaves, And How Can You Hack Your Brainwaves For Optimal Sleep?

The brain always produces various electrical waves depending on its state. Most people are trapped in a beta brain wave state of mind. This is a surefire way to destroy sleep quality. This is the root problem for almost all those who have insomnia.

Fact checked by Nattha Wannissorn

Mastering Your Brain Waves

There are five major groups of brainwaves. Three of them are on the healing side, and two are more on the fight, flight, or freeze side. 

colorful brain waves

1. GAMMA WAVES (35 HZ to 100 HZ+): 

Gamma waves are the fastest. When doing EEG analysis on Zen monk masters, gamma is their dominant wave. Gamma is an incredibly high spiritual state. You experience a universal connection with a higher power. However, it can be very taxing on the nervous system. There is a physical cost to it. It’s not ideal for ramping up gamma before bed.

2. BETA WAVES (12 HZ TO 30 HZ):

With beta, we’re engaged, we’re focused, we’re thinking. If beta goes too high in the wrong parts of the brain, the person experiences anxiety. As discussed earlier, the majority of people are stuck in beta. This is the state many people refer to as “the monkey brain.” 

This is the crazy beta brain train that can create endless streams of thoughts. This is where you can feel like your brain is trapped on a hamster wheel. This is one of the greatest destroyers of sleep. It’s critical to downshift from this state into…

3. ALPHA WAVES (8 HZ TO 12 HZ): 

When you start slowing your brain waves down from beta, you’ll enter alpha once you get between 8-12 Hz. Alpha is relaxed and alert. A great first goal for meditators is to reach this state. To maximize sleep, doing a 5 to 20-minute meditation to move the brain waves into alpha can do wonders for sleep quality.


If you slow your brain waves down to 4-7 Hz, you’ll enter theta. This is a much slower and deeper state. This is a great state for visualization. Everyone hits this state at least twice a day. Once when you’re falling asleep and once when you wake up. 

Those states are hypnagogic (when you fall asleep) or hypnopompic (when you wake up). It’s the state where you’re slightly aware of your dream.

5. DELTA WAVES (0.5 HZ TO 4 HZ): 

If you slow it down even more, between 0-4 Hz, you’ll enter delta. Delta is what we go down to when we hit stage 4 sleep called “deep sleep.” Almost all of the healing in your body happens in this sleep phase. Your growth hormone, testosterone, and most of your rejuvenating, healing hormones are produced in delta sleep. This is also when a lot of your learning happens. This is the foundation of high-quality sleep.

We have beta and gamma on the fight, flight, or freeze side. We have alpha, theta, and delta on the healing and recovery sides.

Brain Waves And Sleep

man sleeping with a headset listening to waves to improve sleep

The brain remains active during sleep, and each stage of sleep has brain waves accompanying it:

  • Stage 1: Alpha waves begin being replaced by theta waves as someone transitions from relaxation to sleep. Sleep is light and easily disturbed.
  • Stage 2: Brain waves slow down as alpha activity ceases and theta waves predominate.
  • Stages 3 and 4: Brain activity slows down as delta waves occur. This is the magic zone for rejuvenation and recovery.
  • Stage 5 (REM): During the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, the muscles become temporarily paralyzed, and the eyes move quickly. The pattern of brain waves is similar to that in stages 1 and 2, although the sleeper is in a deeper state.

According to Dr. Michael J Breus, “The Sleep Doctor,”

  • With eyes open, people with poor sleep quality displayed less power in alpha waves in at least two areas of the brain, within the frontal and temporal lobes.
  • With eyes closed, people who experience low-quality sleep showed more powerful beta waves globally throughout the brain. “

If you can boost your alpha brain waves and lower your beta brain waves before sleep, you will improve your sleep quality dramatically. Serotonin levels in the brain also maintain the ratio between slow brain waves (delta–theta activity) and alpha brain waves. 

Serotonin is critical for melatonin. The precursor to melatonin is serotonin, a neurotransmitter derived from the amino acid tryptophan. Within the pineal gland, serotonin is acetylated and then methylated to yield melatonin. 

Our co-founder and CEO Matt Gallant’s theory is that getting into an alpha state will boost your serotonin and improve your sleep quality. 

For more information, go here:

Powermove: Shift Your Brain Before Bed
It’s wise to downshift your brain before bed. Here are some ways to do this:
Meditate for 5-20 minutes before bed.
Do a “gratitude list.” It’s one of the most effective ways to boost alpha brain waves. Make a gratitude list and spend a few minutes feeling that gratitude in your heart. Just close your eyes and feel each thing you’re grateful for.
Brain Dumps: if you’re the type of person with racing thoughts and non-stop creative ideas, spending time every night dumping your thoughts on paper can do wonders for quieting the mind. Just grab a paper and pen and keep writing until your brain runs dry.
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