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Night Classes at The University of St. Mattress (or: How to Learn While You Sleep)
Remember those vintage ads promising that you could learn to play the clarinet (or guitar, or a foreign language) by listening to recordings while you sleep?
Well… Maybe not.
It turns out there might actually be some legitimate science behind it.
Recent studies reveal that implicit learning — grasping complex information without conscious attention or awareness — can actually accelerate comprehension of certain subjects. A 2019 Swiss study(1) revealed language-learning enhancement during the slow-wave stage of sleep.
While the jury is still out on its scope and effectiveness, with many still dismissing hypnopedia (the practice of sleep learning) as pseudoscience, sleep researchers are examining the ways in which the brain can grasp new knowledge during the stage of sleep when memories are consolidated.
The results, while not entirely conclusive, show promise into word association, a key element of learning new languages.(2)
Researchers at Chicago’s Northwest University have examined how hypnopedia can also accelerate picking up melodies when learning an instrument.(3)
As long as the memory is tied to a specific sound, the brain can strengthen the recall bond and be better able to summon the information when needed in the waking world. In the same manner, it can be effective to replay college lectures while sleeping to enhance recall of the subject matter.
In short, learning something from scratch while you sleep isn’t possible. However, it can potentially prime the pump for later recalling something you’ve already learned.
So will it work for you? The only surefire way to tell is to test its capabilities yourself.
If you’re learning to play an instrument, try putting together a playlist of songs you’re working on to loop while you sleep. (Be sure to get an app like Adblock Plus to keep commercials from interrupting.) Ideally, you’ll want to try to find pieces focusing exclusively on the instrument you’re learning, but if that’s not possible, just hearing the song can help your brain create the necessary neural associations.
And if you want to see whether sleep learning can help you more quickly pick up a language you’re practicing, here are a few places that can get you started:
On YouTube offers 8-hour sleep courses for a number of languages, including Spanish, French, Russian, Hebrew, Chinese, Arabic and a host of others. Phrases and translations are repeated amidst a background of soothing sleep-inducing music.
Another YouTube channel, places a strong emphasis on sleep-learning English phrases and idioms for foreign students and English speakers who’d like to improve vocabulary. However, in addition to lessons in French, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, Japanese and Korean, it also features programs for learning multiplication tables, the periodic table and world capitals.
This free Android app offers a combination of studies for waking hours and a repetition of key phrases to be played during the night.
Ouino offers extensive 400-lesson sleep programs in Spanish, French, German and Italian. Courses run about $100 (a free trial is available), but include personal language mentoring.
The advantages of being productive during your downtime are obvious.
But sleep learning isn’t a panacea. You won’t be able to pick up an entire language, the complexities of learning an instrument or advanced concepts like trigonometry.
However, sleep-students may find that the practice can make waking studies of some topics a whole lot easier.
(1) Marc Alain Züst, et al., “Implicit Vocabulary Learning during Sleep Is Bound to Slow-Wave Peaks.” Cell Press, https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(18)31672-5. 18 Feb. 2019.
(2) Meredith Kreisa, “Straight Talk Meets Pillow Talk: The Guide to Learning a Language While You Sleep.” FluentU, https://www.fluentu.com/blog/learn-language-while-you-sleep/. Accessed 24 July 2020.
(3) Natalie Wolchover, “How to 'Cram' While Sleeping.” LiveScience, https://www.livescience.com/34048-sleep-learning.html. 3 July 2012.
Remember those vintage ads promising that you could learn to a foreign language by listening to recordings while you sleep?
See why this might be true. 📼 😴
#sleep #sleepingtips #mantasleep
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