Delta brainwaves display the lowest frequency of the four brainwave patterns most commonly observed in the human brain. Occupying a range between 0.5 and 4.0 hertz, the only brainwave that is any deeper (below 0.5 Hz) is the mysterious Epsilon wave. For all practical purposes, delta is as deep as we meditators can go. And there are many wonderful reasons to go there! This article is the first in a short series exploring those benefits.
Generally, the only time that most adults exhibit delta waves is during deep sleep; specifically, the dreamless sleep that occurs long before waking up. This is a time of profound connection with the unconscious mind and an essential period of physical replenishment. Let’s start our series by looking more closely at the physical benefits of delta.
- Anti-Aging Hormone Release Delta brainwaves are associated with releases of two anti-aging hormones, DHEA and melatonin. At the same time, delta waves suppress the production of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress and accelerated aging.
- Deep Relaxation When in the delta state, the mind and body are extremely relaxed. This facilitates cellular recovery from physical and chemical stressors. Infants enjoy this state for much of their lives up to the age of two – and then it’s downhill all the way!
- DNA Repair DNA damage leading to illness must be repaired by the body. Studies have demonstrated that cellular DNA repair proceeds best in the delta state – if you can get there.
- Human Growth Hormone Release Although less-well established than the other benefits, there is some evidence that the delta state stimulates the pituitary gland to release small amounts of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is thought to be valuable in combating aging and obesity.
- Healthier Immune System Through the combination of relaxation and (good) hormone release, delta boosts the effectiveness of the immune system. The beneficial chemicals and neurotransmitters released in the delta state work against the damaging effects of adrenaline released during times of stress.
While the benefits of delta brainwaves are clear and compelling, it is much less clear how we get there. Most meditators struggle just to sustain an alpha state; some can manage theta; only the most experienced and dedicated can achieve delta. If we want to spend more time in delta than we naturally get from sleep – assuming we are sleeping well to begin with – then we need some help.