It’s been attributed to technology, lifestyle changes, stress and a whole host of other causes, but sleep deprivation is a very real problem that has greatly reduced the quality of life for the vast majority of people. Some reports suggest that up to 93% of India’s population may be sleep-deprived.
In recent years, and with the increased attention towards the science of sleep, we have come to understand that sleep itself can be classified into many different stages, but the ideal we should be aiming for every night is Stage 3 Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep. This is because it’s during this stage that the production of delta waves occurs in the brain.
In case you’re wondering what we’re talking about, read on to find out how to control the output of these waves, what they’re useful for and why you shouldn’t be neglecting them.
The Science Behind Delta Waves
From a scientific viewpoint, delta waves are nothing more than a high amplitude brain wave with a frequency of 0.5 and 2 Hz. Discovered in the early 1900s by a man named W Grey Walter, these brainwaves are associated with the very deepest levels of sleep, relaxation, and peace of mind. Otherwise known as slow wave sleep, this consists of at least 20% delta wave sleep, and it is vital that we reach this stage on a regular basis.
Why Do I Need Slow Wave Sleep?
Slow wave sleep is critical to survival. Here’s why: The delta waves produced in this sleep stage help the brain recuperate, convert food into complex proteins that help the body’s muscle-recovery functions, consolidate new memories and enable physical growth. Most importantly, delta waves ensure that all our involuntarily bodily functions – such as proper breathing during sleep, digestion and the functioning of our internal organs – are in-sync and in perfect working order. This is why it’s crucial that we manage to achieve this stage of sleep.
Tips to Improve Your Sleep Quality
Maintain a healthy sleep schedule: Make sure you hit the bed early and get at least seven to nine hours of sleep daily.
Take a hot bath: Increasing your body temperature slightly before going to bed, whether that’s by soaking in a tub or taking a shower, has been shown to increase the occurrences of slow wave sleep over the course of a night.
Exercise regularly: There’s nothing like a prolonged and heat-inducing workout to ensure that delta waves are produced once you hit the bed.
Try meditation: Many sleep experts agree that meditation can greatly increase your chances of a good night’s sleep.
Special diets can help: In the case of those who are lucky enough to be healthy sleepers, a very low carb diet – over the short-term only – could result in the increase of slow wave sleep and, consequently, delta wave production. This is likely due to the easier metabolism of the reduced fat content in a very low-carb diet.
Your Last Resort: Music Therapy
There’s one other thing you could try to promote the occurrence of delta waves in your brain – listen to music. No, not just any music, but very specific music that operates at the same frequency as that of delta waves.
While the scientific community may be divided on whether this method is effective at all, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that vouches for the effectiveness of this system. Here are some delta wave music tracks, specifically designed to help you produce more delta waves and enjoy perfect sleep:
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