PEMF Therapy and Sleep: The A to Zzz’s

Here's What You Need to Know About PEMF Therapy and Sleep.

Picture This…

You stare at the ceiling for an hour and just can’t fall asleep. Or maybe you wake up frequently throughout the night, feel sluggish and tired in the mornings, can’t concentrate, or experience daytime headaches. You feel miserable, and your giant cup of coffee in the morning just isn’t cutting it. So what’s next?

A common solution is to turn to prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids for relief; but they come at a cost. Sleeping pills can make you drowsy during the day, interfere with other medications, or result in side effects like headaches, dizziness, and constipation. Some prescription sleep aids, like Benzodiazepines, can even be addictive and lead to substance abuse. 

Fortunately, studies on using PEMF devices for sleep have shown promising results, without the nasty side-effects. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on magnetic field therapy for insomnia examined its effects on symptoms like sleep latency (how long it takes to fall asleep), frequency of interrupted sleep, tiredness after waking, daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and headaches. The results between the treatment and placebo groups were highly significant, with 70% of people in the magnetic therapy groups achieving significant or even complete relief of their complaints with zero side effects.  

If you’re looking for a PEMF device to help with insomnia, disrupted sleep due to chronic pain, or even just to help you relax, sorting through all of the information out there can be daunting. This A to Z list of terms will help you to better understand the science behind how PEMF devices work to improve sleep, so you can make an informed choice and start sleeping well again.  

Alpha Waves

Occur when you are awake but relaxed, such as when daydreaming, meditating, or even just closing your eyes. Alpha waves are often present right before you fall asleep. However, if they occur during sleep, they can contribute to sleep disorders. 

During sleep, the brain normally produces delta and theta waves. When alpha waves are produced instead, it can lead to the disrupted sleep that leaves you feeling tired the next day. Tuning your PEMF device to an alpha wave frequency (8 to 13 Hz) may be helpful with meditation, mindfulness and relaxation as you wind down for bedtime. For use during sleep, use a delta frequency (0.5 to 4 Hz) instead. [See “Neuro-entrainment” for more on how PEMF devices can synchronize your brainwaves to an ideal frequency for sleep] 

Brain waves

Are electrical impulses created by synchronized masses of neurons communicating with each other. We have different levels of awareness with whatever brainwave state is dominant. They occur at different frequencies, measured in cycles per second or hertz (Hz). These EEG bands are called delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma. 

Circadian Rhythms

Are physical, mental and behavioral changes that occur over a 24-hour cycle. One circadian rhythm, our sleep-wake cycle, is regulated by our brain’s hypothalamus communicating to our pineal gland to release the hormone melatonin (which promotes sleep). Studies in mice have shown that 21 days of exposure to PEMF dramatically increased the rise in melatonin secreted by the pineal gland. 

Delta Waves

The delta frequency range can occur anywhere between 0.5 Hz and 4 Hz. It is responsible for the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) phase of sleep, or deep sleep. This phase accounts for about 80% of all sleep in adults. In a Delta Enhanced Entrainment Program (D.E.E.P.), the internal frequencies of your brain synchronize with the external frequencies of your PEMF device; encouraging it to enter the delta phase of sleep.  


Or electromagnetic fields, are all around us but invisible to the human eye. Natural sources included the natural build-up of electrical charges present during thunderstorms, or earth’s magnetic field which birds and fish use for navigation. Man-made sources include the radio waves used to transmit data (radio, TV, and mobile phone signals), X-rays, and microwave ovens.

EMFs can become dangerous at high levels. PEMF mats generally operate at low levels in a range similar to what occurs naturally in our environment, so they are safe for everyday use. 


Is the rate at which a current changes direction per second. High frequency waves have spikes and dips packed closely together, like the teeth of a comb. Lower frequencies look more like rolling waves. A higher frequency wave has more energy than a lower frequency wave of the same amplitude (wave height). 

For improved sleep, low frequencies in the delta range (0.5 to 4 Hz) are recommended. Some research has shown that sticking to a single PEMF frequency overnight is better for training the brain for sleep than a changing or step-down frequency. The exact frequency that works best for you may depend on your body, so it may take some trial and error to find the best frequency for you. 

Growth Hormone

During Stage 4 (delta wave) sleep, the secretion of growth hormone by the pituitary gland peaks, which stimulates body development and tissue repair. That is why uninterrupted deep sleep is especially important for growing adolescents, and why sleep is so important when we are sick. PEMF devices have been shown to aid in tissue repair; enhancing the positive effects of a good night’s sleep in your body’s healing process. 

Hours of Sleep

Adults need an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. However, people who have poor quality sleep with many awakenings may still have insufficient sleep even if the total duration is 8 hours. Sleep deficiency can lead to numerous mental and physical health issues, including cardiovascular problems, diabetes, obesity, immunodeficiency, hormone issues, pain and mental health disorders. 


Is the inability to sleep adequately despite the opportunity to sleep (not a restriction in the opportunity to sleep, such as waking up early for work or waking often to feed a new baby). With insomnia, either the length or quality of sleep may be affected. Studies on PEMF therapy for the treatment of insomnia showed that most people had a significant reduction in symptoms after use as compared to a placebo group.

Jet Lag

Is a disruption in your circadian rhythms that can happen whenever you cross over two or more time zones. The change in time zones means that your sleep-wake cycle is now out of sync with the time in your new location. Jet lag can lead to disturbed sleep, daytime fatigue, stomach problems, difficulty focusing, and a change in mood. Many PEMF users and manufacturers report 10 Hz as being the optimal frequency to restore circadian rhythms disrupted by jet lag. 


A waveform that occurs in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) / delta frequency sleep. K-complexes suppress arousal to outside stimuli (such as sounds or light touch) to prevent you from waking up frequently when you’re not in danger. K-complexes also help with memory and information processing, which is one reason why getting plenty of deep sleep is so important. 


Infrared light is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye can’t see. PEMF therapy mats can be used in conjunction with far infrared therapy (FIR) for added relaxation and healing. Some mats like the Healthy Wave PRO 5 FIR PEMF mat combine both technologies. Using them on the lowest heat setting (30º C/ 86º F) can be safe for longer periods, such as when sleeping. 


Is the perception of the geomagnetic field that many animals use for migrating and homing. Recent research shows that at least some humans have shown brain responses (affecting the Alpha waves) to changes in Earth-strength magnetic fields. This research proves that magnetic fields can be used to directly influence our brain waves, which may explain why PEMF mats can be so helpful with regulating sleep and even mood. 


Also called brainwave synchronization, is a term used to describe how our brainwave frequencies can adjust to match the vibrations of external stimuli. These can sometimes be auditory (like pitch or rhythm), or visual; like a rhythmically flashing light. Similarly, PEMF devices can be used to set a frequency for our brainwaves to mirror, in order to synchronize them to an optimal setting for various functions. The brain can then synchronize for improved concentration (beta or gamma settings), attaining a calm, meditative state (alpha or theta settings), or achieving a deep sleep (delta setting). 


Is the driving force in many cell functions and in metabolism. PEMF treatment has been shown to increase blood flow and tissue oxygenation, with the effects of a 30 minute treatment lasting for over 3 hours. Neuroscience research has shown that oxygen plays an important role in promoting a deep, restorative sleep.


A majority of people with chronic pain report poor sleep quality, with one in four having a sleep disorder. Frequent waking due to pain can cause a disruption in a progression of the sleep cycles, preventing adequate deep sleep. Chronic pain sufferers also frequently experience increased stress, anxiety, and depression which can further interfere with sleep. Using PEMF therapy to alleviate pain can indirectly help to improve sleep quality. 


comfortable, cool, and dark” describes the ideal environment for optimal sleep. As a part of your sleep hygiene practices, you may wish to use a PEMF device in the same environment you use for sleeping to help you wind down and relax fully. 


Involves stopping activity for the increase of mental and physical well-being. It is a broader term than sleep, and it can be passive (like lying down or napping) or active (meditating or engaging in mindfulness activities). While sleep is crucial for us to function, rest offers many benefits as well. PEMF devices can be incorporated into meditation, guided imagery or breathing exercises to deepen the sense of relaxation these activities bring, and minimize stress-related physical symptoms. 

Sleep Hygiene

Involves the habits that help you to have a good night’s sleep. These habits can include having a comfortable sleep environment, not consuming drugs and stimulants, avoiding screen-time before bed, and using the bedroom only for sleep. Good sleep hygiene practices can safely be used in addition to a PEMF device for improving sleep quality. 

Theta Waves

Occurs when you’re sleeping or dreaming (when REM sleep is taking place). Theta waves measure in the 4 Hz to 8 Hz range, which makes them slower than alpha waves, but faster than delta waves. They may also be present in deeply relaxed awake states, such as when you experience doing something on “autopilot.” Using a PEMF device tuned to a theta range may assist you with deep meditation and the transition to sleep. 

Ultradian Rhythms

With relation to sleep, ultradian rhythms refer to the 90-120 minute sleep cycles we go through around 3 to 5 times in the average sleep episode. These may also be referred to as the sleep-dream cycle or REM-NREM cycle. When you wake up during this cycle, the total time spent in REM sleep decreases, which can negatively impact your cognitive performance and emotional wellbeing. 


Is the force that pushes electrical currents through the body. The human body is made up of charged elements (including sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium) which have an electrical charge. Also known as ions, these charged elements can be used by our body’s cells to generate electricity. Resting cells are negatively charged inside, and positively charged outside. When a cell is stimulated, positive charges enter the cell and causes electrical pulses called action potentials. These are what cause neurons to fire, and muscle cells to contract. 

The resting potential of a single brain cell (neuron) is 70 millivolts (mV) or .07 volts. For comparison, a new AA battery is 1.5 volts. With trillions of cells in our bodies, it’s understandable that a disruption in electrical currents can lead to illness. PEMF mats can help the body’s electrical currents return to their normal state.


Are essentially the shape of the electrical signal. They can be sinusoidal (like waves), triangular, square, trapezoidal, and more. A large variety of waveforms exists in nature and in our bodies, and the same is true for PEMF mats. Waveforms can either enhance (by mirroring) or diminish (by counteracting) the natural processes in the body. Square waveforms may work best for healing, while sawtooth waveforms are preferred for relaxation. However, waveform types are less important in the effectiveness of PEMF treatments when compared to other factors (like time spent using the device or intensity of the frequency).   


Cosmic rays, tanning beds and nuclear power production all produce ionizing radiation (it carries enough energy to remove electrons away from a molecule). These can cause cellular and DNA damage with prolonged exposure. Non-ionizing radiation includes radio waves and light, which are lower-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and mostly harmless to humans. PEMF devices emit very low frequency EMFs, similar to the frequencies found in nature. 


And meditation can be paired with your PEMF device to assist you in getting a good night’s sleep. Meditation with PEMF can help you achieve relaxation at night or wakefulness and energy in the morning. Using a PEMF mat together with gentle Yin yoga poses can help to stretch and repair muscles and joints, alleviating nighttime aches and pains.  


Now that you understand some essential terminology, you can confidently research your options and find the perfect PEMF device to help you sleep soundly again. 

Sweet dreams!

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