States of Consciousness

By: Artemis Beniamin


The awareness we have of ourselves and our environment. Different states of consciousness are associated with different patterns of brain waves. There are four main types of brain waves: alpha, beta, theta, and delta.
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Sleep is one of the many types of consciousness we experience. Sleep also involves several states, even while sleeping our brains and bodies are continuing to work.
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Circadian Rhythms

Biological cycles that occur every twenty-four hours. Sleep follows a circadian rhythm. Hormone secretion, blood pressure, body temperature, and urine production also have circadian rhythms.

Infradian Rhythms

Biological cycles that take longer than twenty-four hours. For example a woman's menstrual cycle.

Ultradian Rhythms

Biological cycles that occur more than once a day. Sleep also follows this system of about ninety minutes. Alertness and hormone levels also follow the same cycle.

Activation Synthesis Theory

This theory proposes that neurons in the brain randomly activate during REM sleep. Dreams arise when the cortex of the brain tries to make meaning out of these random neural impulses. According to this, dreams are basically brain sparks.

Problem-Solving Dreams

Some researchers think that dreams express people’s most pressing concerns and might help to solve problems in day-to-day life

Neural Housekeeping

Some theories argue that dreams arise during the brain’s routine housekeeping functions, such as eliminating or strengthening neural connections. Dreams are like a way of cleaning up your brain's files.

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A procedure that opens people up to suggestion. A hypnotist puts a subject in an altered state by encouraging relaxation and sleepiness. Once a subject is in the altered state, he or she may act, perceive, think, or feel according to the hypnotist’s suggestions


The practice of focusing attention. People meditate to enhance awareness and gain more control of physical and mental processes. Techniques used in meditation vary and include activities such as repetitive chanting and breathing exercises. However, researchers disagree about whether meditative states are unique states of consciousness.

Psychoactive Drugs

As opposed to medicinal drugs, these drugs have psychological effects, meaning that they change sensory experience, perception, mood, thinking, and behavior. Sometimes called recreational drugs.