Brain.fm for Sleep
Brain.fm’s Guide To Optimizing Your Slow-Wave Sleep
Let’s talk about this little concept called “achieving your highest potential.”
You crush it during the day, whether that’s at home or work. Then, there is the pivotal time between crushing your goals and being home that we call sleep. Sleep is when our mind & body needs (for the foreseeable future, anyway) to reset, recharge, and prepare to give our 110% the next day.
Since we take the time to optimize our day, how about optimizing the other third of our lives we lie unconscious? (Admittedly, this is probably a third on a good day.) How well do you generally sleep? How long does it take you to fall asleep?
Chances are, for most of us, there’s ample room for improvement. That’s why we’ve taken out the time and effort to build out our sleep genre. It’s designed to get you to sleep fast and keep you asleep throughout the night. Let’s break down the science of what you need to know about sleep (the super important activity required to make our brains work) and how to use Brain.fm to set yourself up for getting premium shuteye.
What is slow-wave sleep?
Slow-wave sleep (SWS) is the deep, restorative stage of the sleep cycle (comprising stages 3 & 4, for you sleep science junkies) that leaves us feeling energized with that electric pep in our step to go forth and tackle the day. It’s responsible for that signature “good night’s sleep” feeling we experience when we’re well-rested.
How does it do this, exactly? For one, your brain sweeps a chemical called adenosine out of its system. Adenosine is a by-product molecule that’s left behind when you expend energy throughout the day. Without a fair share of slow-wave sleep each night, adenosine continues to loiter in your headspace longer than desired, leading you to feel drowsy and physically groggy when you wake up the next day.
Aside from the energy bit, slow-wave sleep is also when we encode many of our memories, specifically facts, lists, dates, and events (all called “declarative memory”). These are the tedious things that we usually have to try to remember, like talking points for a work meeting or information for a test.
So, we can all agree... Slow-wave sleep is a big deal.
How is slow-wave sleep measured?
Well, the neurons in your brain are always emitting wave patterns called neural oscillations. The oscillations will differ in shape and size depending on what you’re doing: whether you’re awake, reading stuff online, catching some Zzzs, and so on. These neural oscillations are primarily categorized into the following: Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta wave patterns (listed here in the order of highest to lowest frequency).
The key thing to remember here is: delta wave patterns are associated with slow-wave sleep. Sleep labs can measure these and all wavelengths through EEG testing, a process that involves placing sensors on someone’s head to measure these neural oscillations in real-time.
With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Brain.fm used EEG testing to run pilot experiments of functional Brain.fm music on the brain as subjects were snoozing. We tracked the neural oscillations of three subjects (two male, one female) on nights they were listening to Brain.fm music, and on nights they were not listening to anything.
What did we find?
On nights the subjects listened to Brain.fm, subjects experienced a 24-29% increase in delta wave activity. (Cue audible gasps.) This boost in slow-wave-sleep was confirmed with an increase in memory encoding markers, a cornerstone activity of slow-wave sleep. (The “markers” are bursts of brain activity called “spindles.”)
While we like to believe our study is making waves (pun intended) in the sleep community, there are many other researchers out there studying the effects of slow-wave music on sleep and reaching similar conclusions.
A 2010 study found that acoustic stimulation (i.e., sound tones) increased the amount and size of slow-waves during NREM sleep. Another study in 2014 found that increasing deep or slow-wave sleep through the use of “sedative music” actually increased the overall sleep quality of individuals experiencing sleep problems. Most recently, a 2020 study conducted in China compared the effects of REM music & white noise on sleep quality (in addition to slow-wave sleep music) and found that slow-wave sleep music was the only condition that increased sleep efficiency while REM music & white noise actually decreased it.
tl;dr Several studies confirm that some sleep music → ↑ slow-wave sleep → ↑ sleep quality
Ok, wow... So what exactly is in Brain.fm’s sleep music?
Remember those delta wavelengths we mentioned earlier? Brain.fm’s music expertly incorporates them (along with other wave patterns found in slow-wave sleep) into its functional music.
As our music’s neural-phase-locking tech reverberates through your ears, its wave patterns serve as suggestions to your own neural oscillations. It induces slow-wave sleep by either stimulating the onset of sleep wave patterns or stabilizing existing ones. This way, you don’t prematurely exit out of your slow-wave sleep because of some random noise (like that weird clicking sound your A/C loves to make when you need your rest the most).
Brain.fm has also implemented a second layer of defense to protect your sleep from external noise. In addition to neural phase-locking, the music incorporates 3D sound technology that mimics the slow swinging of a hammock or the rocking of a cradle. Think of it as “surround sound,” but instead of dropping you in the middle of an action flick, it drops you into a deep, restorative slumber.
And we hope mentions of Brain.fm’s patented-technology-this and technology-that do not lead you to think that listening to our music is anything short of enjoyable. Our tracks are not a case of discordant mish-mash and robotic tones masquerading as music. We hire talented composers to lay the groundwork for the musical elements for each brilliant piece. The melodies, harmonies, chord progressions, sound design, and so on are thoughtfully created for your listening pleasure.
Our top 5 favorite tips on improving your “getting ready for sleep” routine
Now that you’ve got the Brain.fm component figured out, let’s make sure there aren’t any BTS (behind-the-snooze) factors that are sabotaging your goals in getting restorative sleep on a nightly basis.
The following are some recommended guidelines for maximizing your deep sleep potential:
1. Go to bed at the same time every night.
At this point, everyone has the old “7 to 8 hours” guideline stamped into that part of the brain that loves to nag about getting to bed earlier. While that’s a good rule of thumb generally speaking, it’s a little trickier when it comes to getting enough slow-wave sleep.
The thing is, we usually get a large share of our slow-wave sleep in the first half of our sleep period. This means that if you go to sleep two hours later than your usual bedtime, you will miss out on a good chunk of slow-wave sleep, even if you end up sleeping in an additional two hours. So, it’s essential to keep your routine set at the same time to cash in on your precious slow-wave sleep.
2. Eat dinner at least two hours before bedtime.
Aside from the sheer physical discomfort, eating too close to bedtimedampens sleep quality. It’s more difficult for your body to adhere to its sleep routine when it’s simultaneously trying to digest the hearty Cobb salad you had half an hour ago. As a bonus, you’d be doing your digestive system a favor by giving it proper resting time while you rest.
3. Use a snug headphone headband to bed.
Headphones are clunky, and earbuds tend to slip off your ears during the night. If they do manage to slip off, the music will not be as effective.This one should do the trick. Once you slip this on, you’ll forget how you ever slept without it.
BONUS tip #1: In preparation for sleep, be sure to plug in your phone when and turn on the “Do Not Disturb” setting.
BONUS tip #2:When you wake up, make a habit out of plugging your Bluetooth headband into its charger, so you’re never left with a dead battery when it’s time to sleep.
4. Consider lowering your temperature in your environment before bed.
Do this by lowering your room temperature or turning on a room fan. Taking a hot bath or shower before bed will also quickly lower your temperature once you’re out of the shower, priming your body for a good night’s sleep.
5. Limit exposure to blue light before bed.
That’s a fancy way of saying you should stay away from electronics, e.g., computers, tablets, or those pocket-sized things that hypnotize us most hours of the day. This also applies to the blue light from the bright light bulbs we expose ourselves inside our living spaces when it’s dark outside. (Another reason to embrace mood lighting.) Capping most of your blue light usage an hour or so before your desired bedtime will make a big difference when you’re ready to hit the sack.
BONUS tip #3: If you can’t imagine your night without an hour of Hulu (and who can blame you?), consider blue light blockers. And while research on blue light blockers is still limited, there is anecdotal evidence that blue light glasses will also help reduce eye strain when looking at screens for extended periods. Double-win.
We hope you enjoy these tips and would love to hear from you. What are your favorite sleeping tips? Be sure to leave us a comment, as we’d love to hear what helps you have the best consistent sleep.
Your partner in productivity,