Imagine you go to sleep, and when you wake up you find yourself bilingual. It sounds like a tale; however, according to scientists, it is possible.

Sleep learning or hypnopedia is an attempt to transmit information to a sleeping person, mostly by sound recording. You probably remember those popular language tapes that people used to listen while sleeping in order to acquire new foreign language skills. This the took the interest of scientists and they took action to see whether this was true or not.

Learning was tied to sleep.

In one experiment, researchers played sounds of basic Dutch words to a group of German people while they were sleeping. Later on, when they were tested, they were able to identify and translate words they used to listen while being asleep. Finally, they concluded that learning was tied to sleep. Because they did the same experiment to the people who were doing something else –such as walking- However, this walking group was not able to recall the words. The idea behind hypnopedia is that the messages we listen while we sleep is sent to our subconsiousness and is saved there. Our subconsciousness stays active even when we sleep. That consequently later on we can easily recall the words we listened to if we want.

Not everything can be learned while we sleep.

Do not expect to learn everything while sleeping before you go on the exam. Sleep-learning takes time and it can only be achieved as long as the material is not so difficult. As we saw the experiment above, it seems doubtful that anything of great value or complexity can be learned while sleeping.

Critics do not agree that we can actually learn while we sleep.

Although there are some scientific researchers on hypnopedia –or sleep learning – some of the scientists have brought criticism on this. According to studies of Charles W. Simon and William H. Emmons, stimulus presented while we sleep cannot be recalled later unless the alpha wave is present while we sleep.

On the contrary to the scientists who believe we can learn while sleeping, scientists who look critically claim that subconsciousness can only include messages that have been experienced during the day, or in one’s life, thus it cannot process new information while sleeping. Before it was believed that many believe memory acquisition cannot be active during sleep, however recent study says the contrary. At the same time, his study adds that ‘humans can only strengthen previously acquired memories, but whether they can acquire entirely new information is unknown.’

Critics also think that this is a myth and it’s only a game of the economy in which people already has been influenced by movies and fiction; however it has no connection with reality.

Your brain needs rest.

So both sides seems to have the right. The answer to ‘can we learn while sleeping?’ is maybe. It is up to you to which one you want to believe. However, I would suggest instead of  attempting to learn while sleeping, why not learn while we are awake? Sleep is the time when our mind relaxes; our brain needs the time off. If we make our mind busy even when it wants to relax, our brain will be uncomfortable. The quality of your  sleep will be much poorer if you fall asleep with music or an audio book playing.  We should give time to our brain for rest; If you really want to learn something, use your waking hours. We can learn best when we are attentive, awake and conscious.

What do you think? Can we learn while we are asleep?

CopyrightDream Humanity