Things You Should Know (But Don't) About Alpha Brain Waves

Things You Should Know About Alpha Brain Waves
Generation of alpha brain waves has been strongly linked to relaxed mental states. It is a state of relaxed alertness, conducive for creativity and idea generation.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Consider this:
You take a brief break from your day-to-day routine. You feel relaxed, blissful, and observe that your mind is clear of extra clutter. Well, this is an indication of the brain producing more and more alpha waves, which promotes a feeling of comfort and calmness.
The brain, an electrochemical organ, is known to produce electrical activity. The 100 billion-odd nerve cells in the brain communicate by sending and receiving electrochemical signals. When millions of neurons, transmit electrical signals simultaneously, this combined electrical activity generates a 'wave-like' pattern, commonly referred to as brainwaves. Different kinds of brain waves are generated depending upon how attentive or focused we are in any kind of activity. For instance, when we are fully involved in some kind of activity, the brain produces beta waves, which are considered to be the fastest. During sleep, the slow delta waves are generated. The following Buzzle write-up discusses the alpha waves that have been associated with passive alertness.

Alpha brain waves that travel in the frequency ranging from 8 to 12 Hz are produced in the thalamus. They are slower than beta waves and have been associated with a relaxed state of mind. Alpha waves are generated when you simply lie down and relax yourself. When you close your eyes, there is sudden burst of alpha brain activity, which eventually dominates the entire cortex area. This is the beginning of the relaxation process, that precedes the sleeping state. Alpha brain waves are also dominant in the early stages of meditation.

In the alpha state, a sense of relaxation prevails, but that does not mean you feel drowsy or sleepy. This state of consciousness is often described as a state of relaxed wakefulness or effortless alertness in which the person is mentally and physically passive. When alpha waves are dominant, you loose focus and tend to breathe slowly. Negative mind state eventually disappears, and you are in a position to nurture positive thoughts. No wonder, you feel much better staying in the alpha brain wave state.
Need for Alpha Waves
■ Enhances Creativity: Studies have shown that people who are highly creative show higher alpha brain wave activity. The brain of a creative mind shows a burst in brain wave activity during a problem solving session. No wonder, a surge in alpha brain waves has been associated with creative inspiration and insights. Being in an alpha state can allow to access a wealth of creativity and inspiration that lies within each person.

■ Boosts Peak Performance: Research has also shown that in case of athletes, there is a surge in alpha brain wave activity just before they give their peak performance. For instance, professional basketball players just before their best free throw routine tend to show a significant increase in alpha brain wave activity. A 'rush' of alpha brain waves is also observed in elite professional golfers, just before hitting their best shot. This indicates that the generation of alpha waves is an important step that precedes peak performance.
Benefits of Alpha Waves
As the body begins to relax, during this state of consciousness, one simply cannot underestimate the importance of alpha brain waves. Following are the benefits of this 'blissful' mental state:

■ Alleviates Stress: Alpha brainwave activity also decreases levels of cortisol―a stress hormone that has been associated with a wide range of medical problems. It helps to negate the effects of stress as well as boosts the immune system. To be in an alpha state is a good feeling, as your mind is at ease, free from any worrisome thoughts. The calming alpha waves help alleviate stress and anxiety, decrease fatigue and release muscular tension. Generation of alpha waves instills a sense of well-being and emotional stability.

■ Improves Mental Processes: Being in an alpha state, gives us an opportunity to improve our mental clarity. Small breaks taken during the day can boost our memory, concentration, creativity, learning and recalling ability.

■ Reduces Pain: Being in an alpha state increases production of endorphins―hormones that reduce sensitivity to pain. Hence, increased alpha brain wave activity is said to reduce physical pain (discomfort).

■ Unlocks Hidden Potential: It is said that in an alpha state, one can access the hidden powers deep-seated in the subconscious mind. Training yourself to remain in this state of consciousness without going to sleep may provide plenty of benefits and help to tap your inner strength. So once you master the art of thinking at the alpha level, it can help unlock your mental potential and resolve issues at work.
Although staying in the alpha brainwave state is beneficial for overall well-being, it does not mean that you should remain at the alpha level for most of the time. Keep in mind that the alpha state corresponds to diminished focus and concentration, which can actually be a great obstacle during the day, when you are at work. The key is to shuffle between alpha and beta state whenever needed so as to maximize peak performance and productivity during the day time.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.