Arlington County Police Department Pioneers New Officer Wellness Tools 

 

Less than 20% of police officers seek help for mental health concerns according to a recent article from Walden University.

 

Law enforcement officers routinely face high-pressured situations that require sound decision making. When you’re stressed, that decreases working memory which increases the likelihood of errors. Whether you’re a police officer, a nurse, or a pilot, these “worker athletes” benefit from drugless solutions to boost their human performance. 

 

According to the American Police Officers Alliance, alcohol abuse, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicidal thoughts are common mental concerns for officers around the US. In fact, 1 in 4 officers contemplate suicide.

 

Departments are finding new, engaging ways to improve mental fitness within their own teams. Emerging tactics include destigmatizing seeking help, centralizing resources internally and forming strategic partnerships with health organizations. The Arlington County Police Department has also introduced immersive media for mental resilience training and recovery. Recently, the ACPD launched a wellness initiative for officers through a partnership with Cummings Foundation Behavioral Health.

 

The new initiative introduces Virtual Reality Stress Management Training using Healium’s software. The officers are using VR headsets to interrupt the stress response, provide vi

rtual nature experiences, and create stored memories that can be recalled in stressful situations. 

Five peer-reviewed journal publications show Healium’s impact on anxiety, positivity, and mood improvement. Officers will be able to experience calm in as little as four minutes through these virtual nature escapes that have the option of being powered by wearables that allow the user to see their own brain patterns or heart rate inside virtual worlds. 

For more information on virtual reality as a drugless non- harmful coping mechanism for you or your team, visit tryhealium.com.

Gamma brainwaves are the fastest and most energetic of all brainwave frequencies, however the accepted range for each of the different types of brainwaves varies. 

 

Gamma brainwaves are generally accepted as ranging from 30 Hz to 80 Hz. They are associated with peak concentration, alertness, creativity, and positive mood states. Gamma brainwave abnormalities have also been linked to several learning and memory problems.

 

What Is a Gamma Brainwave?

 

Brainwaves are electrical activity produced by neurons firing in the brain. This electrical activity can be measured using neurofeedback (typically through an electroencephalograph (EEG)) or mapped out more in-depth by a qEEG brain mapping.

 

Generally, gamma waves are thought to help the brain process information more quickly and effectively. Research has also shown that gamma waves can be increased through meditation and other mindfulness practices.

 

Types of Brain Waves

 

Analyzing brainwaves with neurofeedback devices shows clear distinctions between the various ranges of frequencies and amplitudes, meaning that brainwaves can be divided into distinct types.



In general, brainwaves are divided into four basic types: delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma.

 

Alpha Waves (Relaxed State/Wakefulness)

 

In a relaxed state, your brain produces alpha waves. Alpha waves are 8-12 Hz and are associated with a feeling of wakeful relaxation. When you’re calm, your breathing and heart rate slow down, and blood flow decreases to your muscles.

 

You may also feel a sense of calm and clarity. While alpha waves are present in both the waking and sleeping states, they are more prominent in the latter.

 

Beta Waves (Active, Busy State)

 

Your brain produces beta waves when you’re in an active, busy state. You might be working on a project, engaging in a difficult task, or simply thinking about something that requires a lot of mental effort.

 

Beta waves are 13-30 Hz and are associated with concentration and focus. You’re alert and aware of your surroundings when you’re in a beta state. You might also feel anxious or stressed.

 

Beta waves activate the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. While this can be beneficial in short bursts, it’s not ideal for sustained periods of time.

 

Too much beta activity is linked to anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

 

Delta Waves (Deep Sleep)

 

Delta waves are the slowest of all brainwaves and are associated with deep sleep. Delta waves have a frequency of 0-4 Hz.

 

During deep sleep, your body rests and heals. This is when a growth hormone is released, which helps repair tissue damage and build muscle mass. Delta waves are also thought to play a role in memory and learning. Abnormal delta activity is linked to Alzheimer’s, dementia, and ADHD.

 

Theta Waves (Light Sleep/REM Sleep)

 

Theta waves are associated with light sleep and REM sleep. Theta waves have a frequency of 3 to 8 Hz.

 

During light sleep, your body relaxes, and your breathing and heart rate slow down. You may also experience brief periods of muscle twitching.

 

REM sleep is when you dream. Your eyes move rapidly during REM sleep, which is sometimes called active sleep.

 

The Difference Between Gamma and Other Brainwaves

 

While gamma and beta waves are both associated with cognitive function and focus, gamma waves are faster and have a higher frequency.

 

Gamma waves are also linked to higher levels of consciousness and awareness. 

 

This is why gamma waves are sometimes called “super-learning” waves.

 

Peak concentration and focus occur when gamma and beta waves are in sync. This is why gamma waves are often thought of as the brain’s “gear shift,” allowing you to move from a state of relaxation into a state of focused concentration.

 

Benefits of Gamma Waves

 

The benefits of gamma waves are vast and far-reaching. Gamma waves have been linked to:

 

–  Improved memory

–  Enhanced learning

–  Increased focus

–  Improved mental clarity

–  Increased concentration

–  Improved cognitive function

 

Gamma activity has also been shown to increase during meditation, which is thought to be why meditation is beneficial for the mind and body.

 

Problems Associated with Gamma Waves

 

While gamma waves are typically associated with positive states of mind, problems can arise when they are too prevalent. 

 

To be clear, every type of brainwave is active throughout the brain at any given moment in time. It’s only when activity falls outside the range of normalcy for any particular person when adverse effects are noted. 

 

When gamma activity is abnormally high, it can lead to:

 

Anxiety

– Stress

– Insomnia

– Fatigue

Headaches

– Irritability

 

The University of Geneva also found that the reduction of gamma activity has been linked to psychotic disorders. Gamma waves play a significant role in social cognition, and their impairment has been linked to schizophrenia. 

 

3 Ways to Balance Gamma Waves

 

If you’re experiencing problems with higher-than-normal gamma activity, you can try a few things to help balance gamma waves.

 

Yoga

woman practicing yoga graphic

Yoga is a form of exercise that combines both physical and mental elements. The physical component of yoga can help balance gamma waves by reducing stress and anxiety.

 

Yoga has also been shown to improve sleep quality, which can help reduce gamma activity at night. Bhramari Pranayama, a yoga breathing technique, has also been shown to help induce gamma waves.

 

Meditation

 

Graphic of man meditating to achieve flow stateMeditation is a practice that helps to focus and calm the mind. There are many different types of meditation, but all forms can help reduce gamma activity.

 

Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that helps you focus on the present moment. This can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can help balance gamma activity.

 

Those who meditate for a long time have shown that they have higher gamma activity than those who don’t meditate. This suggests that meditation can help to increase gamma activity over time.

 

Zen Buddhist monks also show the activity of gamma synchrony during meditation. Gamma synchrony occurs when gamma waves from different parts of the brain become synchronized. Meditation can help to create a more cohesive gamma state.



Newer technology has further capitalized on the effectiveness of meditation for achieving mental fitness. Virtual reality, for example, elicits extremely immersive qualities when undergoing meditative experiences.



At Healium, we combine virtual reality meditation with the ability to practice neurofeedback at home so our users are fully immersed while simultaneously capturing their brainwave data. By granting them access to this biofeedback, Healium transforms the act of meditation into a more  active form of brain training. 

 

Binaural Beats

Woman listening to music graphic

Binaural beats are sounds that have been used to help people relax and focus for centuries. They are a form of sound wave therapy that involves playing two different frequencies of sound waves at the same time. The brain picks up both tones, as well as an illusionary third. The sound of binaural beats can help to change your brainwave state.

 

When you listen to binaural beats, your brainwaves will start to match the frequency of the moments. This can help you reach a more relaxed state or a state of increased focus.

 

Binaural beats in the gamma range can help to improve mental clarity and increase focus. Listening to binaural beats for 30 minutes daily has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety.

 

Bottom Line on Gamma Brainwaves

 

Gamma waves are an essential part of normal brain function, and abnormal levels of their activity can lead to various problems. While more research is needed into the effects of gamma wave disturbances, it’s clear that they should be taken seriously.

 

Some ways to help balance gamma activity include yoga, meditation, and listening to binaural beats. 

 

Furthermore, those interested in brainwaves can also invest in neurofeedback equipment like EEG headbands, that allow you to see your brain’s frequencies from the comfort of your home. When combined with meditation (or even better, virtual reality meditation experiences), users can actively work to improve the balance of electrical activity within their brain.

 

Learn more about how Healium works!

The flow state is often called the key to unlocking the best of our physical and mental capabilities — making it a particular topic of interest for athletes, musicians, and more.

 

Getting into “the zone” or entering a deep flow state is associated with several benefits. These include greater focus and concentration, better sense of clarity, increased creativity or problem solving, and positive emotional regulation.

 

While the team at Healium has written extensively about the flow state and how to train it, we’ve also put together the ultimate resource guide of outside materials for those looking to learn more about flow. 

 

The Best Books on Flow State

 

If you are an athlete interested in learning more about the flow state to improve your game, here are three books on flow to serve as your entry point.

 

 

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Anyone who wants to understand the flow state of mind should start with the man who formed the theory: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. 

 

In this book, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discusses everything about the flow state — from what it offers and how it works to how we can control it. He breaks down not only how we can practice being in the zone in our daily lives but also how to use it more effectively.

 

If you enjoy this book and want to explore Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theories more, you may also check out Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology: The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

 

 

Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

Author: Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal

This book by acclaimed author and journalist Steven Kotler explores how some of the top performers in the world, from the geniuses of Silicon Valley to elite Navy SEALs, make use of the flow state to further enhance their performance. 

 

Stealing Fire notably offers several techniques or methods on how we can unlock the flow state to improve our lives.

 

 

Living in Flow: The Science of Synchronicity and How Your Choices Shape Your World

Author: Sky Nelson-Isaacs

 

Living in the Flow offers something different from our last two book recommendations. Instead of looking at the flow theory purely from a scientific perspective, Sky Nelson-Isaacs looks at the flow theory from both a scientific and spiritual standpoint. 

 

The author explores synchronicity and coincidences, intentional action and alignment with the universe, as well as taking actionable steps towards optimal functioning using theoretical physics and quantum mechanics.

 

 

Flow State Research Papers and Studies

 

There are numerous scientific reviews and studies that explore the flow state of mind. Aside from flow research papers by Csikszentmihalyi, here are a few interesting reads to check out.

 

 

The Neuroscience of the Flow State: Involvement of the Locus Coeruleus Norepinephrine System

Authors: Dimitri van der Linden, Mattie Tops, and Arnold B. Bakker

 

This review takes a look at how the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system of our brain may be involved in manifesting the flow state

 

The LC-NE is responsible for releasing norepinephrine, a chemical in our brain that helps keep us focused or locked on a target. The authors explore how the LC-NE system may help in unlocking flow states and guide future research.

 

 

Achieving Flow: An Exploratory Investigation of Elite College Athletes and Musicians

Authors: Roberta Antonini Philippe, Sarah Morgana Singer, Joshua E. E. Jaeger, Michele Biasutti, and Scott Sinnett

 

This particular research paper explores the experience of elite college athletes and musicians who have previously entered the flow state during their games or performances. 

 

The study analyzes not only how they got into the flow but also how they maintained and exited it. The authors also noted the differences between the flow state and focus of concentration for athletes and musicians.

 

 

Educational Videos on Flow

If you don’t have much time between training sessions to read books on flow, there are many educational videos online that can help you get started on flow research. 

 

 

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness

YouTube channel: TED

 

The “Godfather of Flow Psychology” himself, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi gave an illuminating TED Talk introducing the flow state. He talks about how it feels to be in flow and the state’s potential benefits. 

 

Additionally, he talks about how doing what we love or what we are passionate about helps us enter the flow state and ultimately provide lasting satisfaction and happiness.

 

 

How To Get Into The Flow State | Steven Kotler

YouTube channel: Mindvalley Talks

 

 

New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler gives a great talk introducing the flow state and how crucial it is in today’s fast-paced world.

 

 He discusses the origins of the flow state theory, how it optimizes performance, studies conducted on the topic, and flow state in action. More importantly, Kotler also talks about how flow is “hackable” or how we can get into the zone easier.

 

 

Develop A Peak Performance Mindset with Dr. Michael Gervais

YouTube channel: Flow Research Collective

 

 

In this video, Steven Kotler is joined by Dr. Michael Gervais, a published author and psychologist specializing in working with high-performance clients like Olympic athletes, champion sports players, acclaimed artists, and Fortune 100 executives. 

 

Together, the two discuss the neurochemicals that help create an optimal state of mind, whether pre-performance rituals or routines are recommended to get into the flow state, the importance of trusting your body work, and much more.

 

The Flow Research Collective YouTube channel also offers more tips, discussions, and flow hacks in varying lengths to further supplement your learning.

 

 

Finding Your Flow with Healium

 

A large part of getting into the flow involves training your brain in order to trigger the flow state when you need or want it. 

 

Healium is the perfect meditation app for flow training and triggering your flow state of mind. When paired with a neurofeedback device that captures and measure your brainwave data, you can see your brain’s electrical activity in realtime and work to influence it. This can aid in identifying your flow triggers and enhancing your flow state as a whole.

Learn more about how Healium works here, or see if for yourself in this video!

Neurofeedback, which is also known as EEG biofeedback, has grown in popularity due to the fact that it’s a non-invasive and medication-free approach that can benefit individuals with various mental conditions, such as ADHD, depression, PTSD, anxiety, and autism.



Please note: Neurofeedback therapy is not a cure for any mental disorders; however, it is a valuable tool for patients with conditions that may benefit from its use. 

 

What Is Neurofeedback Therapy?

 

 

Neurofeedback is a specific type of biofeedback that measures brainwave activity. 

 

Neurofeedback therapy involves measuring a patient’s brainwaves and giving that patient real-time feedback about how their brain functions in certain circumstances. 

 

Neurofeedback therapy sessions follow a similar structure to practicing neurofeedback at home. Sessions are often paired with visual and audio-based stimuli to analyze and measure the brain’s response, and the experience is set up to reward and reinforce corrective brainwave behavior.



Quantitative EEG brain mapping takes the neurofeedback process a step further by gathering all the captured data and processing it through various algorithms through the use of modern applications such as wavelet analysis. The results give practitioners a “map” of the electrical activity of your brain and helps them determine its overall functioning.

 

various brain waves diagrams are shown in an illustration. six brain waves are illustrated

 

Here are the types of brainwaves that neurofeedback therapy involves:

 

– Delta: Delta waves, which are also the slowest type, are active when a person is sleeping or when they’re in a non-aroused state.

– Theta: Theta waves are present when a person is fantasizing or daydreaming. This type of brain wave is also associated with intuition and creativity.

– Alpha: Alpha waves become active when our brain is in a relaxed, idle, or disengaged state. That’s why this type of wave is associated with relaxation.

Beta: When a person is in a state of intellectual or mental activity, such as when they’re thinking, processing information, feeling anxious, or solving a problem, beta waves become present.

–  Gamma: Gamma waves are the fastest measured brain waves and are essential for sensory and information-binding, which means they’re present when the brain is linking various pieces of information. 

 

The Brainwave Activity Behind Mental Disorders

 

Clinical neurofeedback therapy is not a cure for any of the following conditions, but certain patients with these conditions may benefit from it:

 

ADHD

 

People suffering from ADHD may spend more time in the theta state. Since theta waves are associated with deep relaxation, daydreaming, fantasizing, intuition, and creativity, this type of wave will dominate the brain’s activity when a person is unable to concentrate. 

 

As compensation, people with ADHD may resort to hyperactive behavior to transition from the theta state to a beta wave state, which is present when processing information.

 

Ever since the ‘70s, patients with neurological disorders, specifically ADHD, have opted for neurofeedback to train their brains. 

 

Proponents of neurofeedback therapy report that the treatment will have two benefits:

 

– Brain wave alterations endure well.

– Improvements in brain waves may lead to better focus, eliminate impulsivity, and reduce distractibility.

 

Depression

 

Research showed that people suffering from depression have imbalanced alpha waves oscillations –– the waves are more active in the left frontal cortex of the brain. The goal is to target these oscillations in the hope that they’ll be in sync with the alpha oscillations in the opposite frontal cortex. If this is achieved, depression symptoms may be reduced.

 

Furthermore, a 2019 study utilized neurofeedback to treat people with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). After three months, the study revealed that the participants’ response rate was around 58%. This shows that neurofeedback not only addresses the symptoms of TRD, but the therapy may be the key to recovery.

 

Lastly, another study displays positive results in using alpha/theta feedback training in addressing deep depression. Results from the study indicated training mainly involves promoting trauma-related healing, creativity, and relaxation.

 

PTSD

 

A person who witnessed or experienced any traumatic event will force their brain into a flight-or-fight mode, which means they’re in a heightened state of arousal so they can be fully aware of your environment. 

 

Having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), then, implies that a person’s delta waves are active, which is the brain wave most associated with stress and anxiety.

 

Moreover, PTSD sets in when the state of arousal doesn’t fade even long after the traumatic event is witnessed or experienced. As a result, the person may:

 

– Mentally re-experience the traumatic event

– Display avoidance

– Have reactivity and arousal symptoms

– Experience mood and cognition problems

 

When it comes to handling PTSD, the goal of neurofeedback is to help patients transition from the state of arousal to a calmer one. This way, they’ll regain their sense of safety, allowing them to react appropriately to daily events.

 

There are already studies showing that neurofeedback therapy gives significant relief to PTSD symptoms. However, the benefits of neurofeedback are not yet conclusive and further research is needed in this area.

 

Anxiety

 

Abnormal alpha wave activity can be responsible for altering one’s attention and cognitive processing abilities.

 

When alpha waves are more active, a highly anxious individual may find it difficult to process information or focus on a specific thought or task. 

 

Researchers believe that the key to lowering stress and anxiety lies in optimizing alpha wave levels. A study shows that neurofeedback training that targets alpha brain waves has reduced the participants’ anxiety levels. 

 

Moreover, another study suggests that increasing both theta and alpha brain waves in the brain’s occipital lobes may reduce anxiety and generally improve the brain’s function in people with generalized anxiety disorder.

 

Autism

 

Data collection for autism is much easier if started in infancy when the brain is still developing. A year-old child who’s suspected of having autism has distinguishable delta and gamma brain waves. Autistic children also show a steep increase in delta brain wave while a slower increase in gamma brain waves over time than normal children.

 

Using EEG technology, neurofeedback brain mapping in a clinical setting can identify where the brain is having difficulty processing information. This means that neurofeedback may provide significant benefits in managing  the symptoms of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). 

 

Here are a couple of symptoms that may be improved by neurofeedback therapy:

 

– Stimming

–  Emotional outbursts

– Speech issues

– Ritualistic behavior

 

Takeaway

a virtual reality landscape with text overlay that reads, "why is it important to see your feelings?"

Neurofeedback can be a powerful tool to assist people who desperately need other treatment options, specifically when they’re dealing with mental disorders. As neurofeedback therapy targets particular parts of the brain and influences the brain’s electrical activity, it can be a beneficial option for people with ADHD, depression, PTSD, anxiety, or autism.

 

Our brain generates a huge amount of electricity daily — enough to power a small light bulb. Whenever the cells or neurons in our brain communicate with each other, they do so by sending electrical pulses.

 

These synchronized electrical signals produce brainwaves. Simply put, brainwaves are the electrical activity in our brain displayed in wave form. 

 

various brain waves diagrams are shown in an illustration. six brain waves are illustrated

 

Our brain produces different types of brainwaves, differentiated by their range of frequencies or cycles per second. Each type has also been known to affect overall mental state — from our mood and focus to our perception and memory formation.

 

 

What Are Alpha Brainwaves?

 

Alpha brainwaves are the first type of brainwave discovered — hence the name “alpha,” or the first letter of the Greek alphabet.

 

In terms of frequency, alpha waves measure at 8 to 12 cycles per second, or hertz (Hz), placing them in the middle of the brainwave spectrum or frequency bands. 

 

Alpha brainwaves are slower compared to beta and gamma brainwaves. However, they have higher amplitudes, meaning they produce larger waveforms.

 

Studies have found alpha waves to be most prominent above the occipital cortical area of the brain — the visual processing center at the back of the head.

 

When Are Alpha Brainwaves Predominant?

 

Pico with Glow Reef

Alpha waves are a common brainwave frequency. They occur whenever we are awake, but relaxed, with an internal attention.

 

Moreover, an alpha wave is the opposite of beta waves. Unlike beta brainwaves, which  tend to be associated with a state of arousal or activity in the brain, alpha tends to be associated with more of a quiet, internal state.

 

This means that alpha brainwaves are predominant during times when our brain is idle and only passively paying attention to our surroundings. It doesn’t matter what we are doing physically, as long as we feel calm and at rest.

 

Some states or times when alpha waves are occur include when we are:

– Daydreaming

– Meditating

– Resting after an activity

– Sleeping

– Practicing mindfulness

 

Alpha brainwaves may also occur while we are walking or doing other activities, provided that our mind is in a reflective state and not focusing too deeply on the task at hand. 

 

Mood States Associated With Alpha Waves

 

The brain typically produces alpha waves during times when it is relaxed or at a reflective state. As such, the mood states commonly associated with alpha brainwaves include:

– Calm

– Relaxed

– Introspective or reflective

– Content

– Restful

– Peaceful

– Stress-free

 

Alpha Brainwaves During Sleep

 

 

Alpha brainwaves can be observed even during sleep, particularly during the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stages of sleep. NREM sleep refers to the stages of sleep when we are not dreaming.

 

Stage 1 NREM sleep — also known as the transitional phase between wakefulness and sleep — is when our brain produces the most alpha waves. This falls in line with alpha’s association with calm, relaxed, and resting states.

 

However, as the first sleep stage progresses, the brain starts to reduce the production of alpha brainwaves and increase production of theta waves, which are slower. 

 

Benefits of Alpha Brainwaves

 

Different studies suggest that alpha brainwaves produce a number of positive effects. These include:

 

Reduced Anxiety

 

Since alpha brainwaves are associated with relaxed, calm, and restful mental states, it does not come as much of a surprise when alpha waves were linked to lower anxiety and stress. One study published in 2012 found that daily alpha brainwave neurofeedback training can help reduce signs of anxiety and other psychopathology symptoms.

 

A separate study suggested that increasing alpha brainwaves, together with theta waves, in the occipital area helps reduce symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It also helped improve the patients’ global functioning level.

 

Reduced Depression

 

Similar to lower anxiety and stress, alpha brainwaves may also help reduce symptoms of depression. A recent study involving patients with major depressive disorder noted that using transcranial alternating current stimulation to improve or normalize alpha brainwave production may help decrease depression symptoms by half.

 

Increased Creativity

 

A study published in the journal Cortex found that alpha brainwaves can help induce greater creativity. The researchers stimulated the production of alpha waves using non-invasive methods, such as brain training and transcranial alternating current stimulation.

 

After doing so, they recorded a 7.4% improvement in the Creativity Index using the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. The study noted that increasing alpha brainwaves in frontal brain areas are the only ones that helped increase creative thinking.

 

Enhanced Focus

 

A study published in 2012 noted that alpha brainwaves can help close our minds to various distractions and other irrelevant brain activity. In particular, alpha waves can help people suppress distractions successfully when they are able to anticipate the arrival of such information or activity.

 

Although it may sound contradictory to our natural state required to produce alpha brainwaves, research shows that manipulating alpha waves may also boost our attention and focus. Using bio or neurofeedback  to slightly lower alpha wave activity as needed can increase our focus.

 

Moreover, evidence suggests that increasing alpha brainwave activity can help raise our productivity levels. This is because meditation and mindfulness — two activities that increase alpha brainwaves — are also linked to triggering the flow state.

 

Triggering a Flow State With Alpha Waves

 

Woman exercising while in the flow stateThe flow state is a state of complete focus and immersion in an activity. This happens when we find ourselves fully engrossed in something and enter a higher level of concentration. 

 

People who enter the flow state find themselves more energized, involved, and enjoying what they are doing. As a result, we tend to not notice feeling tired. People in the flow state also find their work more fulfilling or rewarding, thus giving them greater motivation to continue doing it.

 

The flow state is often observed or associated with creative pursuits, such as painting, dancing, or writing, and sports activities, like football, basketball, or running.

 

Increasing our alpha brainwaves is found to help trigger the flow state. Some practical ways we can improve alpha brainwave production and enter a flow state:

 

– Minimizing or eliminating all distractions: Removing all potential obstacles allows us to reach a calm, idle state much faster, and in turn get into the flow.

 

– Working at peak biological hours or hours of energy: Pushing on with work while we’re tired or low on energy makes it harder to concentrate, making us vulnerable to things that may distract us from reaching an idle, meditative state. 

 

– Listening to music: Familiar and repetitive songs — especially purely instrumental tracks — can help relax and calm our mind and trigger the flow state. Music has even been shown to help improve sleep. Moreover, specific isochronic, binaural, and monaural tones can induce our brain to sync with specific frequencies to effectively produce alpha brainwaves and induce specific mental states. 

 

– Practicing meditation, yoga, and mindfulness: Many people often wonder why they should meditate, and one practical answer is that by placing ourselves in a calmer state we actually help our brain produce more alpha waves. Meditation, in particular, has been associated with increased alpha brainwave activity.

 

Downside of Abnormal Alpha Wave Activity

 

In its normal ranges, alpha brainwaves helps put us in better moods, attain a sense of peace, and see the world positively. However, abnormal presence of alpha activity can create negative side effects.

 

One way alpha brainwaves may negatively affect our mental health is during sleep. Alpha waves are normally only observed during Stage 1 of sleep. Its activity slows down and disappears as sleep progresses past Stage 1 and into Stage 2.

 

However, alpha brainwave activity can sometimes trigger during the Stage 3 of sleep. This is also called alpha wave intrusion.

 

People observed with this abnormal activity generally do not report good sleep. Regardless of how long their sleep was, the individuals report still not feeling refreshed. It has been suggested that the presence of alpha waves during the later stages of NREM sleep may enhance the effects of sleep disorders.

 

Alpha waves’ association with wakeful relaxation and a shallow resting state may contribute to such effects.

 

The Bottom Line

 

Alpha brainwaves can be highly beneficial for our mental fitness and overall productivity. Knowledge of the different brainwaves and how to improve them increases our ability to maximize the states they induce.

 

Additionally, wearable neurofeedback devices make it is possible to train our brain. Now in the comfort of home, these wearables provide visual data, which can optimize the management of anxiety, calmness, focus, and sleep.

 

When combined with the meditation experiences and data dashboards offered by Healium, adjusting our alpha and other brainwave activity is easier than ever

 

For more information on incorporating neurofeedback into your wellness routine, check out how Healium works here, or watch the video below!

 

 

 

Delta brainwaves are the slowest recordable brainwave frequency, however the accepted range for each of the different types of brainwaves varies. 

 

Generally speaking, delta waves are seen as frequencies ranging from 0-4 Hz.

 

Please note: The Brainlink Lite EEG headband (a consumer neurofeedback device that pairs with Healium), classifies delta waves as 0- 2.75Hz, meaning that it’s important to keep in mind that the amount of delta you can expect to see when practicing neurofeedback at home with Healium will be much smaller.



For the purposes of this article, we’ll be classifying delta brainwaves as electrical impulses in the brain occurring at a frequency of up to 4 Hz. 

 

 

What Are Delta Brainwaves and What Do They Do?

 

Delta brainwaves are the slowest measurable brainwave band and are most prevalent during deep, dreamless stages of sleep.

 

Delta waves are most dominant in newborns, especially because they typically sleep between 14 and 17 hours per day. 

 

However, the dominant brainwave frequency for individuals often shifts as they age. For example, as babies age and their brain develops, the dominant frequency speeds up, which can be measured and observed with neurofeedback equipment.



Toddlers, for example, will have dominant frequencies into the Theta range. 

 

Although delta waves are usually associated with sleep, they can also be generated in a waking state by experienced meditators. 

 

When delta waves are present, the body is in a state of complete relaxation, and the mind is usually not very active.



When your brain is in a dominant delta state, it is essentially shut down for repairs.



This is true whether you’ve suffered a significant injury (like a concussion) or are simply regenerating during deep sleep, ridding your brain of toxins and resting after all the random electrical firings that happened throughout the day.



This is why experts agree that the deep sleep stages of the sleep cycle are so vital for healthy brain function. 

 

various brain waves diagrams are shown in an illustration. six brain waves are illustrated

 

The Benefits of Achieving a Delta State

 

Delta brainwave activity has also been linked to some health benefits, including improved immunity, reduced stress levels, and increased longevity. They are also thought to be involved in healing and may help reduce inflammation and pain. 

 

In addition, delta brainwaves have been shown to promote tissue regeneration and cell growth.

 

Being in a delta state has been associated with many additional health benefits, including:

 

The Release of Anti-Aging Hormones

During delta sleep, the body releases two important hormones: melatonin and DHEA, the “youth hormone.”

 

Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and slows down the aging process. DHEA is a hormone that has been shown to improve immunity, reduce stress levels, and increase longevity.

 

When you are in a state of delta sleep, your body can produce these critical hormones more effectively. As a result, delta sleep helps your body (and your brain) with crucial restorative processes. 

 

Improving Your Immunity

Delta brainwaves have been shown to improve immunity by increasing the production of cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that help regulate the immune system and fight off infection.

 

Since delta waves can be achieved through sleep, deep delta sleep may help to improve your immunity by increasing the production of these important proteins.

 

Additionally, delta brainwaves have been shown to reduce inflammation. This means that delta sleep may also help to reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.

 

Improve Cognitive Function

In addition to the physical benefits, delta sleep has been shown to improve overall cognitive function. One study found that delta brainwaves are associated with cognitive processing and memory recall.

 

Other research has shown that delta brainwaves can help improve attention span and reaction time. As a result, delta sleep may help you think more clearly, learn new information more effectively, and remember important details more easily.

 

Reduce Stress Levels

Delta brainwaves are also thought to be involved in the stress response. When delta waves are present, the body is in complete relaxation, which can help reduce stress levels.

 

In addition, delta brainwaves have been shown to reduce cortisol levels. The body releases cortisol in response to stress which has been linked to several health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.

 

By reducing cortisol levels, delta brainwaves may help to improve your overall health and well-being.

 

How To Achieve a Delta State

 

 

Since there are a lot of benefits from delta brainwaves, you may be wondering how you can achieve a delta state. 

 

To be clear, every different brainwave frequency is already occurring throughout your brain at any given time. When experts talk about inducing a certain frequency state, what they’re essentially talking about is increasing that particular frequency within the brain, especially in targeted areas of the brain responsible for certain functions.



There are a few different ways to increase delta brainwaves, including:

 

Sleeping

This is perhaps the most obvious (and easily attainable). When delta is most prevalent, the individual is less active, meaning the most natural way to increase delta in your brain is by drifting off into a healthy, deep, and restful state of slumber. 

 

This means you should aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night.  You must get a full night’s rest to achieve delta waves during sleep. 

 

In addition, delta waves are more likely to occur in the later stages of sleep. Waking up in the middle of the night can disrupt these waves.

 

 

Interested in more information on the neuroscience of sleep? We’ve written an expansive blog here!

 

Meditation

Graphic of man meditating to achieve flow stateMeditation is another effective way to achieve higher levels of delta brainwaves. There are a few different types of meditation that can help, including:

 

–  Transcendental Meditation: Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation that involves repeating a mantra. This type of meditation is effective in reducing stress and anxiety levels.

 

– Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness meditation involves being present in the moment and observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This type of meditation can help you to focus and concentrate more effectively.

 

– Yoga Nidra: Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation involving lying in a comfortable position and focusing on your breath. It helps reduce stress and promote relaxation.

 

Neurofeedback 

vr meditation with neurofeedbackNeurofeedback is the process of capturing the electrical data of your brain (through devices such as EEGs), analyzing the results, and submitting yourself to specific brain training to achieve improvements.



There are many ways to practice neurofeedback, whether that be at home or in a clinical setting that offers QEEG brain mapping with controlled stimuli and expert analysis. 

 

 

Abnormal Delta Activity

While delta brainwaves are usually beneficial, there are some cases where abnormal delta activity can be problematic. To identify such potential problems, it’s important to first establish a baseline of delta brainwave activity inside your brain.



Remember, every frequency of brainwave is occurring inside your brain at any given moment, but when standard deviations are identified, the veil is lifted and valuable information can be gleaned.

 

 

Here are the most common problems associated with abnormal delta activity:

 

Head Trauma

When delta brainwaves are dominant in areas of your brain during wakefulness, it can be a sign of head trauma. Delta waves are a reliable indicator of traumatic brain injuries like concussions or worse. A qualified medical professional will be able to perform a CT scan or MRI to determine if there is any damage to the brain.

 

Exposure to Toxins

Exposure to toxins can also lead to abnormally high delta activity. Toxins can come from a variety of sources, including:

 

– Air pollution

– Water pollution

– Food contaminants

– Pesticides and herbicides

 

A  qualified medical professional will be able to perform a variety of tests to determine the source of the exposure and recommend treatment.

 

Cognitive Impairment

Abnormal delta activity has also been linked to cognitive impairment. Delta waves are a reliable indicator of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

 

Individuals with brain lesions or tumors may exhibit delta activity, and delta waves can also accompany severe ADHD and other forms of cognitive impairment.

 

brainwave graph is displayed over a photo of purple mountains

How To Balance Brainwaves

Your brainwaves are always active, even when you’re asleep. They’re responsible for everything from your thoughts and emotions to your physical movement. But when your brainwaves are out of balance, it can contribute to various problems, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, insomnia, and migraines.

 

Fortunately, there are several ways you can balance your brainwaves and improve your overall health.



Yoga and tai chi are excellent for balancing brainwaves. These gentle forms of exercise help relax the body and mind, promoting a sense of well-being.Other helpful activities for balancing brainwaves include listening to calming music, spending time in nature, and practicing deep breathing exercises. 

 

However, our favorite way to increase delta brainwaves is by practicing meditation and mindfulness. Meditation helps to calm the mind and bring about a sense of peace.

 

For delta brainwaves specifically, we recommend practicing sleep meditation, which aims at achieving deeper states of sleep through effective stress reduction. 

 

At Healium, we take the effectiveness of these meditation practices to the next level by immersing our users in virtual reality experiences, while also offering ways to capture and view their brainwave data so they can work to improve the management of mental wellness. 



The science behind Healium has shown promising results, including an improved effectiveness over audio-only meditation, decreases in anxiety, and an increase in positive mood states.

 

 

Bottom Line

Delta brainwaves, like other types of brainwaves, can be beneficial or problematic depending on the context and their relative level of activity. 



Delta waves are most commonly associated with sleep and meditation. However, delta activity can also signify head trauma, exposure to toxins, or cognitive impairment if abnormally active. 

 

It is essential to balance delta activity with other types of brainwaves to promote optimal health. Additionally, if delta activity is abnormal, it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A doctor or qualified healthcare professional can order the appropriate tests and recommend treatment.

In the past, discussing the flow state was limited to a small population of athletes, musicians, and scientists. However, in recent years, the concept has gained broader appeal as people have come to realize that it’s a very real phenomenon.

 

But what is flow state, and why should anyone care about it?

 

The “flow state” is a state of being that involves being fully absorbed in an activity. While in the flow state, people feel that everything else falls away, and they can be entirely focused on the task at hand for the sheer joy of it. 

 

While in a flow state, many feel a sense of euphoria and feel that time has sped up or slowed down. They may even lose track of what is happening around them. 

 

This state of flow is often referred to as “being in the zone.”

 

 

The neurology of flow states is still being revealed, but some things are certain: the flow state is very real and it can be trained and triggered

 

Our experts at Healium are here to walk you through the benefits of the flow state and how to use the flow state to your advantage.

 

The Benefits of Being in Flow

Woman exercising while in the flow stateThe flow state can have a profound effect on every area of one’s reality. While in flow, people are completely focused and present with the task at hand; they’re not thinking about anything else other than what they need to do at that moment.

 

This can be beneficial in many ways; this laser-like focus allows people to achieve optimal performance and produce their best work, and it can even improve the overall quality of their life. 

 

Here are what we consider to be the biggest benefits of being in flow:

 

– Enhanced happiness: When people are in a flow state, they are able to completely focus on the task at hand, allowing them to shut out intrusive thoughts about other things that may be stressing them out. 

 

This allows people to feel a sense of peace, joy, and happiness that can be hard to come by in day-to-day life.

 

– Increased intrinsic drive: While in a flow state, people often feel motivated to continue the activity they’re engaged in due to the sheer enjoyment that they’re getting from it. 

 

This intrinsic drive is much more powerful than external motivation, such as rewards or punishments, and it can lead to increased productivity and improved performance.

 

– Greater authenticity: Flow state allows people to be their authentic selves without any distractions. 

 

When people aren’t worrying about what others think of them or whether or not they’re good enough, they are able to just be distinctively themselves, which can lead to a far greater sense of fulfillment.

 

– Improved positive emotion: Being in a state of flow can lead to an enhanced sense of enjoyment. However, it can also lead to other positive emotions such as inspiration, love, and awe. 

 

When in a flow state, people may feel as though they are one with the universe and everything around them, which can lead to some pretty intense emotions.

 

– Improved productivity: The combination of increased focus, motivation, and emotional control allows people to be extremely productive while in flow. 

 

As a result, people can get more done in a shorter time and achieve better results.

 

– Boosted creativity: The flow state is often associated with spikes in creativity. People become less constrained by their usual thought patterns,  which makes thinking outside the box or considering new perspectives more feasible.

 

Graphic of man meditating to achieve flow stateHow to Trigger Your Flow State

As we’ve explained above, flow states can be highly impactful on the quality of our lives. However, if you’re unfamiliar with them, it can be hard to get into this powerful state of mind on purpose. 

 

We have found these to be the most common and accessible ways to intentionally trigger flow states in your own mind:

 

Concentrating Your Mind

The natural state of one’s mind is disorganized stream of consciousness, which is why focusing your mind is one of the most effective flow triggers. Activities that rely on intense focus on technique, rhythms, or pacing are oftentimes great triggers for flow. Think: oil painting or long-distance biking. There are many ways to train this, including meditation and mindfulness.

 

Setting Clear Objectives

This is true with many aspects of life, but especially so when you’re trying to trigger flow. Identifying precisely what you want to achieve makes it easy to break that goal into actionable steps. As mentioned above, when you have a pace or rhythm to follow, your mind is more focused and more likely to enter the flow state. 

 

Make sure your plan is specific and measurable so you can track your progress. This will lead you to a sense of control and mastery, which are both crucial factors in triggering flow states.

 

Remember to start with small habits and nourish them into larger ones as you continue to make progress.

 

Finding Your Challenges

To identify effective flow triggers, you need to find an activity that is challenging enough to engage all of your attention but not so challenging that it becomes overwhelming. This sweet spot is different for everyone, so experiment with various activities to find what works for you. This could be anything from playing a sport to working on a complex project at work.

 

Paying Attention to Your Body

Your body plays a significant role in triggering flow states. Make sure you are well-rested and have enough sleep and energy to take on the challenge at hand.

 

 Pay attention to your breathing and ensure that you aren’t holding your breath, as this can lead to anxiety and stress that can impede your flow state.

 

How Healium Helps You Train Your Flow State

Healium is a meditation app featuring meditation experiences for athletes and helps our users live happier, healthier lives through flow state training.

 

Our app uses EEG neurofeedback to track each of your brainwaves in real-time and provides feedback that enables our users to reach a state of deep relaxation. This feedback teaches users to control their stress responses and find a state of calm amidst the chaos of everyday life.

 

Healium also offers guided meditations and breathing exercises that can be customized to suit our users’ specific needs. This combination of features makes Healium an effective tool for managing stress, anxiety, and depression.  The added portability of Healium means you can meditate before or after you workout, give a presentation, or any tackle other application where triggering your flow state would be beneficial. Healium even helps users increase optimism, reduce worry, boost empathy, and improve sleep

 

Here’s how it works: 

 



Healium has been clinically validated to reduce stress levels in as little as 4 minutes. 

 

Conclusion

 

So, what is flow state? Simply put, it’s a mental state of complete and utter immersion in the task or activity you are currently involved in. 

 

With the right mindset and some practice, anyone can learn to enter the flow state and harness its power. By understanding what it is and how to achieve it, we can unlock our potential and perform at our best.

 

Consider Healium as a drugless aid to guide you back to your flow state.  Our meditative nature-based virtual reality experiences  make it easy and engaging to practice mindfulness and achieve flow. Small actions through consistency add up, and with more practice comes more control of your flow.

 

Download Healium today to relax and focus your mind!

Humans have been studying the causes of nightmares ever since we discovered REM sleep in 1953. While this date might seem late, it’s actually the first time that researchers studied sleep in a laboratory.

 

In the English-speaking world, the earliest known definition of a nightmare comes from the Oxford English Dictionary, tracing back to the 1300s. It describes the phenomenon as a spirit that invokes suffocation in a sleeping person or animal.

 

With such a long and varied history, it’s no wonder why people keep wondering about what causes nightmares. 

 

Here is a comprehensive look at this disturbing sleep phenomenon.

 

What Is a Nightmare?

 

 

According to the Third Edition of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD-3), nightmares are extended and extremely dysphoric dreams. The Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) also uses this definition.

 

These vivid dreams usually involve scenarios that threaten a person’s survival, security, or physical integrity. Thus, they subconsciously exert effort to avoid them. 

 

When Do Nightmares Occur?

 

People normally associate nightmares when sleeping at night (hence the name). However, you can experience nightmares even in the early hours of the day, depending on your sleep schedule. 

 

Nightmares occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is when your eyes move around quickly and randomly without sending visual signals to your brain. Experts also associate this stage of sleep with dreaming, making it integral to studying the causes of nightmares.

 

Common Causes of Nightmares

 

Nightmares occur in both children and adults. 

 

About 50% of children aged 3 to 6 and about 20% of children aged 6 to 12 experience frequent nightmares.

 

Meanwhile, between 50% and 85% of adults report getting nightmares occasionally

 

 

Many factors can cause nightmares. Some of the most common include:

 

– Stress Disorders:

Experts published research associating nightmares with high levels of worry. This study also suggests that people who experienced a major life stressor in the last 12 months are more likely to have nightmares. 

 

Stressors can involve a wide variety of life factors, but common occurrences include divorce, the death of a loved one, and minor violations of the law.

 

– Anxiety Disorders:

People with anxiety disorders are also more likely to have nightmares. 

 

In a 2014 study, researchers observed that adults who met generalized anxiety disorder criteria experienced more nightmares than participants without anxiety. Researchers also found evidence that these people’s bad dreams exacerbated the participants’ anxiety disorders.

 

– Trauma:

People who survived sexual abuse or combat experiences can experience recurrent nightmares. 

 

In fact, researchers reported that between 70% and 80% of adolescent and adult trauma survivors experience chronic nightmares. 

 

One study described how people who experienced multiple traumas in their lifetime were more likely to have nightmares as adults because of the post-traumatic stress disorders they develop.

 

– PTSD:

Experts consider nightmares the hallmark of PTSD

 

One study featuring veterans with PTSD stated that 88% of the participants reported experiencing at least one nightmare a week. Meanwhile, civilians seeking treatment for PTSD also reported having nightmares, which ended up causing more sleep disorders.

 

– Sleep Disorders:

Sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome are some sleep disorders that can cause nightmares. 

 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, experts found a connection between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and having nightmares. Meanwhile, another study correlated having nightmares with periodic leg movement disorders.

 

– Schizophrenia:

Experts associate nightmares with this mental disorder. 

 

In particular, one study reported that nightmares occur more commonly in schizophrenic patients than members of the general population. These people’s nightmares also risk intensifying their psychotic symptoms during the day, affecting their daily functionality.

 

– Medications:

Nightmares can be side effects of some medications

 

Common medications associated with nightmares include specific antidepressants, beta-blockers, blood pressure medications, and drugs that target Parkinson’s disease. Medicines that help people quit smoking can also trigger nightmares.

 

– Substance Abuse:

People who abuse drugs or alcohol may experience frequent nightmares. 

 

For instance, some people might drink alcohol believing that it can improve their sleep because it makes them drowsy. However, alcohol worsens sleep quality, which can lead to vivid nightmares and bad dreams.

 

– Withdrawal:

Stopping the use of certain substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, can also cause withdrawal nightmares. 

 

One study described how a participant experienced intense, hallucinatory nightmares during alcohol withdrawal.  

 

– Horror Media:

Finally, many people might commonly associate horror books and movies with having nightmares. 

 

Consuming horror media triggers your body’s fight or flight response, which can stay active even after you stop reading or watching the content. As a result, your mind might keep processing the fear-inducing content, leading to nightmares.

 

How to Stop Nightmares

If you have frequent nightmares, consider the following things you can do to stop them:

 

– Keep a Dream Journal:

Whether you like jotting down notes in your notebook or using a notepad app, recording your dreams can be a good way to understand them. You can even use your phone’s voice recorder when recounting the events of your recent nightmare if you can remember them. 

 

Taking note of what you dreamt about, how you felt, and the time and place of your dream can help you connect patterns in your nightmares.

 

– Identify and Avoid Triggers:

Once you make sense of what happens in your dreams, you can find clues in identifying possible triggers for your nightmares. 

 

For instance, seeing characters from various horror media terrorizing you in your sleep might be a signal to take a break from watching horror movies. Meanwhile, stress dreams of failing an exam could be a clue to put more effort into your studies.

 

– Create a Safe Space:

Nightmares usually revolve around settings that amplify the feeling of being trapped. Perhaps you are in a situation that limits your agency and control over things around you. 

 

Once you understand your situation, you can try taking control by identifying memories that counter those trapped feelings. Focusing on those thoughts may help you feel at ease and more comfortable, giving you more clarity once you wake up.

 

– Practice Relaxation Techniques:

As nightmares are related to anxiety and stress, learning how to relax more can help reduce their frequency. 

 

Try listening to calming music as you go to sleep to create a calm space in reality as you drift off to your dreams. Or you can practice deep breathing exercises, which experts suggest can improve sleep quality. 

 

Muscle relaxation exercises may also help prevent nightmares by reducing your body’s stress response.

 

Technology can also be incorporated to your relaxation routine. Sleep Meditation and wellness apps, like Sleepium, offer immersive, visually impactful, stories designed to downshift your body’s nervous system and induce sleep-promoting brainwaves. Studies have shown that the immersive qualities of virtual reality have even been effective for helping patients with phobias and PTSD

 

– See a Mental Health Professional:

If you have nightmares that are connected to underlying mental health issues, seeking a professional is the best decision you can make. 

 

You could approach a therapist to help you process the traumas that might be the root of your nightmares. These professionals can also help you develop healthy coping mechanisms to address them correctly.

 

Conclusion

 

The key to understanding how to stop nightmares is to first understand what causes them. Identifying the source of your nightmares can help you find the best solution to address them.

 

Nightmares go beyond mere scary dreams and can be signs of underlying mental illness or unresolved traumas. Something could be wrong physically or mentally, which makes it all the more important to find ways to prevent them from reoccurring.

 

While you can try self-help methods like keeping a dream journal or practicing meditation to make sense of your nightmares alone, consider seeking professional help if the nightmares affect your daily functions.


Additionally, newer self-guided solutions like virtual reality sleep meditation have helped increase the effectiveness of alleviating stress and anxiety, both of which are common contributors to nightmares.

 

Curious how VR Sleep Meditation works? Watch below:

 

Is there anything more irritating than tossing and turning all night, failing to earn a good night’s sleep? 

 

It’s an experience that many people can relate to. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sleeping problems affect around 70 million Americans. 

 

But what’s the reason behind this phenomenon? How can you stop it?


As experts in the realm of improving sleep quality, our team at Healium has put together an article with all your answers. 

 

Causes of Tossing and Turning All Night and Difficulty Sleeping

Endless tossing and turning can be the result of many different factors. Some of these reasons include lifestyle habits, mental conditions, environmental factors, or medical issues

 

The first step toward getting a goodnight’s sleep is knowing and understanding which of those factors may be causing your sleeping difficulty. Once you’ve understood the reason behind the tossing and turning, it will be easier for you to determine the ultimate solution to get the sleep you need.

 

Here are some reasons why you’re tossing and turning all night:

 

Graphic of Man Stressed Out

1. Stress

According to Medical News Today, one of the most prevalent reasons for sleeping problems is stress.

 

Stress can be caused by a variety of factors and for different reasons ranging from work, school, relationships, and other troubles in your personal life. Instead of peacefully drifting off, your mind is preoccupied with the things that stress you out.

 

Stress might be affecting you even if you’re not aware of it, meaning your body can still experience the physical impacts.

 

Stiff, tense muscles make sleeping difficult and causes discomfort, which in turn leads to you tossing and turning in an attempt to find a comfortable sleeping position.  

 

Woman with Anxiety Graphic

2. Feeling Worried or Anxious

The state of your mind is another important factor to consider. While it’s natural to feel anxious toward  work, school, or the future  worries like these  make it difficult to fall asleep.

 

Your body, in an attempt to soothe your mind, shifts around trying to find a comfortable position. However, movement triggers the alertness of the brain, , which  makes falling (and staying) asleep increasingly more difficult. 

 

Blue Light Graphic

3. Excessive Blue Light Stimulation

Too much blue light stimulation before bedtime also contributes to sleep issues.

 

Blue light is a type of short wavelength light that increases attentiveness and brain function.

 

 

 

Examples of blue light stimulation before bedtime include:

– Watching TV

– Playing video games

– Spending too much time on electronic devices

 

As a result of blue light stimulation, your mind stays active and alert. It will make you much more sensitive to simple noises, sudden movements, and bright lights from inside and outside your room, leading you to toss and turn all night. 

 

Woman drinking coffee

4. Too Much Caffeine Consumption

Coffee is a staple in most morning routines; however, too much caffeine is a leading cause of insomnia and keeps you tossing and turning all night.

 

During waking hours, the brain produces adenosine, a sleep-promoting neurotransmitter. The longer you’re awake, the more adenosine accumulates in the brain. The more it accumulates, the sleepier we become. 

 

However, caffeine blocks your adenosine receptors, prohibiting the adenosine buildup your brain needs to make you tired. While there’s a time and a place for caffeine, if you’re having trouble sleeping, cutting down on your consumption will always be an effective strategy. 

 

Woman with poor sleep schedule

5. Poor Sleep Schedule

The body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, closely follows daily patterns of day and night. 

However, many people have unique sleep schedules that throw their internal clock out of sync with this natural daily pattern. 

 

Deviation from your natural circadian rhythm can also be caused by jet lag from frequent travel, constant work schedule changes, a hectic daily routine, an inconsistent bedtime, or other factors.

 

Attempting to sleep when your body is not tired enough or when it is not ready to fall asleep is an example of a poor sleeping schedule. 

 

If you don’t get enough sleep at the right time, your body will feel uneasy, forcing you to toss and turn all night.

 

Restless Leg Syndrome Graphic

6. Health Conditions

Various health conditions may be contributing to you tossing and turning all night. For example, you may experience trouble falling asleep because of a medical condition called restless legs syndrome

 

RLS is a common condition that causes an uncontrollable need to move one’s legs, usually in response to an unpleasant sensation, most frequently when you’re seated or lying down. 

 

Sleep apnea is another ailment that  induces tossing and turning at night. This health condition causes your breathing to stop while sleeping, causing you to wake up frequently.

 

How to Stop Tossing and Turning All Night

 

 

After narrowing down the causes of your tossing and turning, you can begin to address the issue and take steps towards improving your sleep. 

 

Here are some of our favorite ways to stop all that tossing and turning:

 

Maintain a Regular Sleep Routine

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is a good place to begin when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. 

 

Try going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time in the morning to regulate your body’s internal clock. After a period of time, your body will adjust to the consistency and you will find it easier to fall asleep at your regular time. 


What time should you be heading to bed? 

 

Research suggests that 10 p.m. is the most ideal time to schedule your sleep around, but it’s more important to prioritize consistency and routine over any specific time. 

 

If you find it easier to consistently head to bed earlier or later than 10 pm, go that route instead! The key is to let your body fall into a regular, predictable pattern so that your brain has an easier time shutting down for the night. 

 

Stay Away From Electronics 1 Hour Before BedTime

Grant your mind and body the space to prepare for sleep by turning off your technology about an hour before bedtime.

Any form of light hampers your production of melatonin, meaning you’ll have a harder time drifting off to sleep, but this rule especially applies to screens that emit blue light. Blue wavelengths of light actually increase your attention and reaction times, which is especially disruptive when you’re laying down to sleep. 

 

Our suggestion? Read a relaxing book, perform sleep meditation, or listen to sleep-inducing music. 

 

Eliminate Caffeine Towards the End of the Day

Limit your intake of caffeine to avoid blocking your adenosone production. After 3 PM, try staying away from coffee, soft drinks, and energy drinks. This allows your body to produce essential sleep hormones and helps you fall asleep more easily. 

 

Make a Comfortable Bed

Looking at the effectivenes of your sleep arrangements extends beyond your sleep schedule or caffeine intake. Many people forget to actually look at the bed they sleep on!

 

Invest in a comfortable, high-quality mattress, pillow, and comforter. Prioritizing your comfort oftentimes contributes to a longer, more restful night’s sleep.

 

Train Your Brain to Fall Asleep Through Meditation

Woman meditating in bed

 

Did you know that meditation can actually contribute to more restful sleep?

 

Sleep Meditation lowers your stress and anxiety levels, stops your restlessness, and eliminates tossing and turning all night.

 

Virtual reality (VR) makes meditation more effective because the brain believes what it sees. VR meditation immerses you deeper into meditative experiences by blocking out all distractions and providing something for your mind to focus on. 

 

Sleepium is a Virtual Reality sleep meditation app that helps you manage your anxiety and fall asleep more easily. 

 

You can train with an EEG headband that analyzes brainwave data and view the same immersive content on your VR headset. Regular practice helps establish an associative or stored memory that you can refer to whenever you need to relax and calm down. 

 

Virtual Reality meditation will make you feel more calm, remove any anxieties, worries, and stress, and allowing you to have the best sleep you’ve ever had.

 

People may be familiar with the question, “Are you left-brained or right-brained?” 

 

According to popular psychology, our unique personality qualities are shaped by the dominance of one side of the brain. 

 

Right-brained people are thought to have a greater capacity for creativity and intuition and a penchant for qualitative description of their surroundings. 

 

On the other hand, most left-brained people are analytical thinkers who prefer logical and quantifiable explanations for their daily experiences and interactions. 

 

 

However, do these ideas truly represent how our brain works? Let’s take a look.

 

Left Brain: What it Helps You With

The brain’s left hemisphere dominates language. It plays a larger role in speech processing and our capacity to transform sounds into words and interpret their meaning. 

 

In addition to spoken communication, the left side of the brain is responsible for visual language. Deaf people exhibit speech-like neural activity when they see sign language. And for the majority, the left brain contains the two key language areas referred to as Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area:

 

– Wernicke’s area: This is located in the left temporal lobe. When this part of the brain is damaged, a person can meaninglessly ramble on and on and even make up new words. They can produce speech, but because they have difficulties understanding what is being said, they are oblivious to their own errors in speech.

 

– Broca’s area: This is located in the left frontal lobe. If there is an injury to this part of the brain, it may be difficult to move the facial muscles or tongue to make vocal sounds. Despite being able to read and comprehend speech, the person has trouble writing and speaking.

 

Fine motor skills are another left-brain function. It is responsible for reading, writing, and mathematics. 

 

Other interpretations of the left brain have been known to refer to it as the logical half of the brain, because it pays attention to the smallest details before assembling  a complete picture.

 

Tips for Keeping Your Left Brain Sharp

Left brain puzzleThe techniques used to strengthen the left side of the brain are often reminiscent of what we learned in school: science, mathematics, and grammar.

 

Keep your left brain sharp with these suggestions:

 

– Solve puzzles: The brain’s left hemisphere is responsible for the logical thinking needed to solve puzzles. Try your hand at crosswords, sudoku, or scavenger hunts. These puzzle games are great for stimulating the left side of the brain.

 

– Train with brain teasers: Critical thinking, logic, and other reasoning abilities can be improved by working on brain teasers that engage your left hemisphere.

 

– Learn a new language: The left brain is also in charge of our ability to communicate in speech and writing. As a result, learning to speak or write in another language can help stimulate the left side of the brain.

 

Right Brain: What it Helps You With

The brain’s right hemisphere also supports language comprehension, especially the correct interpretation of phrases with multiple meanings, such as figures of speech. 

 

It’s responsible for understanding ambiguous language and inferring emotions and underlying connotations from words.

 

Children’s ability to grasp concepts like “more” and “less” is widely attributed to the right side of their brains. In contrast, a child’s ability to understand numerical amounts lies more squarely in the left hemisphere. 

 

The right brain is also responsible for paying attention to and interpreting the general shape of objects and calculating distances visually.

 

In addition, humans use their right brains to process emotions

 

Tips for Boosting the Creativity of Your Right Brain

Right-brain exercises have numerous advantages. 

 

Improved cognitive performance, reduced risk for depression and anxiety, and better sleep and quality of life are all benefits of mental activities that stimulate the right brain.

 

Artistic activities are a major component of right brain training designed to improve creative thinking. Here are some ideas for enhancing your right brain’s creativity:

 

– Express yourself through visual art: Sketching or painting helps you unleash your creative juices by putting your mind at ease. If you’d like, you can try your hand at any artistic craft.

 

Learn to play a musical instrument: When it comes to singing or picking up a new instrument, it’s important to have both a logical focus and an emotional sense of the music. You can sharpen your brain’s right hemisphere by listening to new music, or even improve your sleep quality by listening to music in bed.

 

– Meditate: A wide range of physical and psychological health benefits have been linked to meditation. It’s calming, helps you focus, and is a great way to de-stress. A relaxed mood allows you to access your right brain’s insights better.

 

Recent advances in technology have even taken the effectiveness of meditation to the next level. For example, apps like Healium are blending virtual reality with meditative experiences which results in an immersive experience that compounds the benefits of traditional or audio-only forms of meditation.

 

Brain Myths: Is One Side of Your Brain More Dominant Than the Other?

 

 

Popular culture’s use of the terms “left brain” and “right brain” has led to a lot of misconceptions

 

The concept of left- or right-brain dominance states that either side of the brain controls various ways of thinking. According to the theory, left-brained people are more logical and systematic in their thinking. On the other hand, those with a more dominant right brain have a tendency for creativity and the arts.

 

An entire industry has been built around this premise. 

 

Many personality assessments, self-help books, therapies, and educational resources claim to help people enhance the functions of their brain’s dominant half or connect with the weaker side.

 

What The Research Says

The theory of left vs right brain dominance was most likely inspired by neuropsychologist Roger Sperry’s studies in the 1970s and 1980s. His work focused on people who had surgery to cut off the corpus callosum, the major structure linking the brain’s two hemispheres, to treat epilepsy.

 

One of the key findings of Sperry’s team was that the brain has distinct left and right hemispheres that are responsible for specific activities like attention and language. 

 

Several misconceptions about how these results were interpreted lead to the common myth that people are right-brained or left-brained.

 

Even though some cognitive functions tend to take place in the right or left hemispheres, researchers have not uncovered evidence that one side of a person’s brain is more dominant.

 

In a study of 1,000 participants conducted in 2013, magnetic resonance imaging indicated that the human brain does not prefer one hemisphere over the other. 

 

Information flows freely between the two sides thanks to the interconnection of nerve fibers. Both sides operate together and support one another despite their differing functions. 

 

You are not limited to using a single hemisphere of your brain at any given time. It doesn’t matter if you’re rational or creative; both hemispheres of your brain are involved. 

 

A person’s general character traits, interests, and learning methods have nothing to do with them being a left- or right-brained individual.

 

The Bottom Line

The human brain is a remarkable organ responsible for controlling all bodily activities, interpreting information received from the environment, and the physical manifestation of the mind and soul. 

 

It has hemispheres that work together, whether you’re solving a complex math problem or creating an abstract piece of art.

 

While there is no such thing as a true left-brained or right-brained person, you can take advantage of your unique abilities and keep expanding your mind. 

 

With proper nourishment, regular physical activity, and mental stimulation, a healthy brain is capable of absorbing new information and coming up with new ideas. Much like a balanced diet, the brain deserves balanced nourishment.


Mental fitness is the driving force behind Healium. By combining immersive VR meditation experiences with neurofeedback tools, we’ve designed a system that presents users with a self-guided way to help drive improvements in their life.

 

Here’s how it works!

 

 

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