MCAT Mnemonics

MCAT Mnemonics: Stages of Sleep and Brain Waves

Ken Tao is the MedSchoolCoach expert on MCAT, and will discuss the different states of consciousness our brain exhibits. And the phrase Bats Drink Blood will help you remember beta waves, alpha waves, theta waves, delta waves, and sleep spindles within REM and non-REM sleep.

Full Transcription

Welcome back to another MCAT Mnemonic Monday. My name is Ken and I’m an MCAT expert with MedSchoolCoach. Today, we have another psych-soc mnemonic for you, and it’s on the Stages of Sleep and Brainwaves.

As you know, at different states of consciousness, our brain exhibits different types of activity called brainwaves. So when you’re awake and you’re alert, so your eyes are open, your brainwaves are mostly beta waves.

As you get tired, a little drowsy, if you close your eyes, you transition from beta waves to alpha waves. You then begin to sleep if you enter non-REM Stage 1. This is when Alpha waves get replaced primarily with theta waves.

As you continue to non-REM stage 2, you still have theta waves, but now you also have sleep spindles and k-complexes.

In non-REM stage 3, this is dominated by delta waves. And then we have REM stage, which is very interesting because in REM sleep it’s very much like being awake. So we’re back to beta waves as we saw when you are awake and alert.

The mnemonic for memorizing the brainwaves for each stage of sleep is: Bats Drink Blood. This helps you to memorize the order of the brainwaves as you go from being awake and alert to REM sleep. So bats: b-a-t-s. You start with Beta waves, then Alpha waves, then Theta waves and then a non-REM Stage 2 you have Sleep Spindles.

From there, non non-REM Stage 3 is the D. So D for Drink. You have delta waves.

And finally, last is Blood, for beta waves in REM sleep.

So the mnemonic Bats Drink Blood can help you memorize the different stages of sleep and the corresponding brainwaves.

Ken Tao

Ken is nationally recognized as a premier MCAT mind. He has worked with thousands of undergraduate students as a graduate teaching assistant and MCAT instructor/tutor for the Princeton Review. At Princeton Review, Ken was the only tutor certified in all subjects, was one of the highest rated MCAT tutors ever and was a teacher trainer. Additionally, Ken worked to found Magoosh's MCAT division. He has written content for dozen's of MCAT books and guides. He is now the Director of MCAT at MedSchoolCoach

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