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Ambrosia III: Delta (Sleep)

Ambrosia III: Delta (Sleep)

Ambrosia III: Delta
12” x 36”
Acrylic & Rose Gold Leaf on Canvas
(February, 2023)


Part of the Ambrosia series, Delta is a meditation on deep sleep. Delta waves are the slowest and highest amplitude classically described brainwave.

I grew up in a country where taking a nap in the middle of the day, a siesta, was perfectly culturally acceptable. For some reason, I learned to associate naps and rest in the middle of the day with laziness, non-productivity, ergo my sense of self-worth. I used to pride myself going on 72 hours with 2 hours of sleep, nursing gallons of diet iced tea. Not sleeping, intense productivity was a badge of honor.

Little did I know. Delta activity stimulates the release of several hormones, including growth hormones. Deep sleep delta wave activity is key to our ability to repair, to process, to recalibrate.  Delta wave activity may also aid in the formation of declarative and explicit memory formation. Infants have been shown to spend a great deal of time in delta wave activity. In fact, delta-waves are the predominant waveforms of infants. Delta wave activity during slow-wave sleep declines during adolescence, decreasing across the lifespan, with most of the decline seen in the mid-forties. By the age of about 75, delta waves may be entirely absent.

The more I read about deep sleep and the delta waves, the more I understand that our desire to be un-relentingly productive has cost us health and joy. Not only do I still suck at naps, now, it is almost like I have to retrain my brain to sleep to sleep through a normal night.

The blues in this piece come from a memory – I was in London with colleagues after a long working dinner years ago. After being cooped up in windowless rooms working all day, I remember glancing up at the sky after 9 pm, astonished at the shades of deep blue, dark but still gloriously luminous.   I knew in that moment what I wanted to do was take a long walk. Instead, I took my jet-lagged ass back to the hotel, wrote work emails, hosted conference calls to the U.S, and woke up at 4 am to catch my flight back. I was proud of myself for my commitment to duty. Today, I can barely remember the details of all those meetings, but that midnight blue sky has stayed with me. The warm rose gold delta wave and the birds are wishes to free us all from the tyranny of over-exertion. I hope it will find a home over someone’s bed, like a talisman of rest, inviting rebirth.

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