Alpha Brain Waves: Definition, Functions, & Benefits

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What are Alpha Brain Waves?

Alpha Brain Waves are a sign of relaxed activity in your brain. Alpha brainwaves are defined as brain waves that cycle between the frequency 8 Hz – 12 Hz.  They are commonly produced in synchronized fashion connecting both hemispheres of your brain, though they can be found solely in the right hemisphere as well.  Alpha brainwaves are the dominant brain wave activity when your body and mind are able to relax.  If you have ever practiced meditation, yoga, or even felt relaxed after drinking alcohol – you have experienced alpha brain waves.

Alpha brain wave activity is common among highly creative individuals who have a clear mind or are experiencing relaxation.  If you close your eyes for a minute or so, your alpha brain wave activity will significantly increase.  As you open your eyes, the more stressful beta brain waves become the dominant pattern.  In comparison, as a child you will have had significantly greater amounts of alpha brain wave activity than you will as an adult.  Alpha brain waves have long been considered to be regarded as the healthiest brain wave range, but also the “safest” brain wave range to entrain – especially at 10 Hz (e.g. 10 cycles per second).

As an early teen or child, you likely had a dominant alpha brainwave pattern.  Should you choose to experience a dominant alpha brain wave again, I recommend checking the products section.  Most of the products recommended will do a nice job at increasing your alpha brain wave activity.  I want to make it clear that there isn’t a single brain wave state that is “better” than the others to be in – each have their advantages and disadvantages.  However, most people are lacking in at least one brain wave pattern.  For the majority of individuals, alpha brain waves happen to be the lacking frequency range.  Things like environmental stressors, fear, anxiety, tension, and overworking tend to deplete your alpha wave activity.  Below, I will outline several benefits of alpha brain waves and also discuss ways in which you can naturally increase your alpha activity.

Benefits of Alpha Brain Waves:

  • Relaxing Thoughts / Relaxed Body – The alpha brainwave is produced when your body calms down and your mind is completely relaxed.  Your brain’s thinking is slower, your mind is clear and you may even feel slightly drowsy.  Your body has zero stress, tension, anxiety, or other feelings of being nervous.  Increasing your alpha brain wave activity is a profound way to reduce your stress.
  • Access Creative States – If you consider yourself to have above-average creativity, chances are that you often experience an alpha brain wave state.  Artists, innovative thinkers, and singers are generally found to have higher alpha activity than the average person.  If you feel that your creativity is lacking, an increase in your alpha waves will feel great.
  • Enhanced Problem Solving -  Most people cannot seem to tap their alpha waves to help them problem solve.  Alpha waves integrate both hemispheres of your brain for better communication and clearer thinking.  The problem with lacking alpha waves is that your left-hemisphere is pulling all the weight in solving a problem, when your right-hemisphere has a solution waiting to communicate to the left.  Increasing your alpha brain waves can benefit artists, writers (for writers block), and creative thinkers.  You certainly won’t feel mentally “stuck” in the alpha state.  In order to tap your inner creativity, your brain must be able to produce synchronous bursts of alpha waves.
  • Calming, Centered Emotions – Alpha brain waves will put you in a calm emotional state.  You will not feel powerful emotions, however, you will feel “content” and centered.  If you are stressed out or nerved up, you likely haven’t had access to the alpha brain waves in a long time.  Getting back in an alpha state will stabilize your intense emotions and you will feel good about yourself.
  • Optimal Athletic Performance – Interestingly enough, if you are an athlete, you could significantly improve your performance by entraining some alpha brain waves.  There is published evidence showing that just before a golfer hits their best shot or a basketball player sinks a shot (think LeBron and Kobe), alpha activity bursts in the left-hemisphere of their brain.  Elite marksmen also have shown a significant burst of alpha wave activity before perfect shots.  Also unique is the fact that the EEG’s (brain wave measurement) of pro-athletes are very likely to display the alpha rhythm, whereas newbie athletes and even decent athletes do not demonstrate any alpha activity.  The best brain wave to entrain for peak performance has been widely considered to be 10 Hz (i.e. 10 cycles per second).  I encourage athletes to give some alpha entrainment a shot and see if it puts you “in the zone.”
  • Reductions of Fear, Tension, Stress, Nervousness, Anxiety – Increasing your alpha brain waves automatically leads to decreasing your fears, tension, stress, nerves, and anxiety.  If you have ever gotten so caught up in a stressful or fearful state, that you literally “forgot how to relax,” then having the ability to increase your alpha brain waves would feel like you’ve been given a miracle drug.
  • Everything Seems to “Flow” – Being able to access “flow” means that you are able to tap a state of mind where all of life’s events seem to pass quickly and all challenges are easily and quickly overcome.  “Flow” is a period of time when you do not have any resistance or problems.  You are in a mental state with optimal brain wave stimulation – you are not thinking too rapidly as to stress yourself out, yet you are also not thinking too slow as to be tired; you are right in the middle between the two.  You feel “balanced” and understand that you are in a desirable state of mental functioning.
  • Ability to Tap “Super Learning” – The ability to learn quickly and effortlessly has been described as the phenomena of “super learning.”  Basically, your brain is able to remember and recall information with less effort than normal.  Alpha waves will allow your brain to retain large quantities of information.  This is due to the fact that both hemispheres of your brain are integrated and communicating with each other.
  • Improved Immune System Functioning – Your alpha waves are responsible for amping up your immune system.  They have been linked to health, recovery from sickness, and serve as protection from stress-related illnesses.  Stress can quickly ramp up damage on your immune system if you go long periods without taking some time to relax; thus increasing alpha activity.
  • Think Positive – Research indicates that due to the calm, wellbeing as a result of increasing alpha brain wave activity, positive thinking and positive emotions also result.  I can personally testify for this one – after having gotten caught up in stress for a prolonged period – my thinking became increasingly positive after a few sessions of alpha entrainment; likely resulting from increased mental peace and calmness.
  • Alpha Brain Waves = Nautral Antidepressant – Alpha brain waves allow for increased release of an important neurotransmitter called “Serotonin.”  Serotonin production usually drops to lower than normal levels in your brain when you feel depressed.  In fact, most antidepressants nowdays aim to increase low levels of serotonin in the brain (do a search for “SSRI’s” to find out more).  For these reasons, it makes sense that alpha brain waves may help ward off your blues.
  • Internal Awareness – Alpha brainwaves are associated with an increased awareness of your self: body and mind. Where as beta brainwaves cause the mind to focus more on external events, the alpha brainwaves enhance the overall awareness of one’s self.

People with Higher than Average Amounts of Alpha Brain Waves

  • Outgoing People, Extroverts – Generally, if you are more outgoing and consider yourself extroverted, you have more alpha brain waves than introverts.  The consensus seems to be that if you have plenty of alpha activity, you are more than 3X as likely to be outgoing.  It makes perfect sense – introverts are less comfortable during social interaction – whereas being social comes natural for extroverts.
  • People who Meditate – If you practice meditation, then you have definitely accessed the alpha brain wave state.  Each time as you close your eyes to meditate, you experience a surge of alpha brain wave activity.  If you want to naturally increase your alpha activity, try meditation.
  • As a Child – As a child, you tend to experience much greater activity in the alpha range.  As you age, your brain shifts away from alpha to another range (commonly the beta range).  It is important to recognize that even though you are not still a child, you can still have access to alpha waves.  The majority of the adult population would benefit from increasing their alpha brain waves.

To Quickly Ramp-Up Your Alpha Brain Waves:

I highly recommend that you purchase either Neuro-Programmer 2 or Mind WorkStation.  If you want a nice, quick significant alpha increase both these products do a great job.  If you want a more advanced training protocol, I recommend the Mind WorkStation (which is more expensive).  Mind Stereo will increase your alpha activity, however, it is not as effective as the other two.  You can give all the products I just mentioned a 30 Day Trial before purchasing, so I suggest you see how well they work for you before making an investment.

If you do decide to give these products a shot, it would be awesome if you could share your experience with others in the comments section of this website.  If you are interested in experiencing some alpha brainwaves or have any questions for me, feel free to send me a message through my contact form – I may start selling customized entrainment sessions as well, so feel free to keep in touch.

**For further reading, check out the article Too Many Alpha Brain Waves Causing Problems.

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