Can You Learn Anything While Sleeping Deep?

Can You Learn Anything While Sleeping Deep?
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Can You Learn Anything While Sleeping Deep?

Can You Learn Anything While Sleeping Deep?

If you don’t give yourself the amount of sleep your body demand, then it is right time to start doing so. Because, sleep can lower your blood pressure. Higher blood pressure increases your chances of heart attacks and strokes, but getting plenty of restful sleep encourages a constant state of relaxation that can help reduce blood pressure and generally keep it under control. The important of sleep is that it gives:

  • energy restoration
  • cell regeneration
  • increasing blood supply to muscles
  • promoting growth and repair of tissues and bones
  • strengthening the immune system.

While you sleep, your body goes through different stages of the sleep cycle. One of such is the ability to absorbing complex information or picking up a new skill from scratch by, say, listening to an audio recording during sleep is almost certainly impossible.

But research shows that the sleeping brain is far from idle and that some forms of learning can happen. However, whether that’s worth losing sleep over has yet to be determined.

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Sleep Learning

The first study to demonstrate a memory and learning benefit from sleep was published in 1914 by German psychologist Rosa Heine. She found that learning new material in the evening before sleep results in better recall compared to learning during the day.

The sleeping brain replays the day’s experiences and stabilizes them by moving them from the hippocampus, where they are first formed, to regions across the brain. 

Some early studies found that people learned the material they encountered during sleep. But those findings were debunked in the 1950s, when scientists began to use EEG to monitor sleep brain waves. Researchers found that if any learning had happened, it was only because the stimuli had woken the participants. These poor studies launched sleep learning into the trash can of pseudoscience.

But in recent years, studies have found that the brain may not be a total blob during sleep. These findings suggest that it is possible for the sleeping brain to absorb information and even form new memories. [Broken-Heart Syndrome May Stem From The Brain]

Still, these findings have elevated sleep learning from the category of pipe dreams and put it back on scientists’ radar.

For example, the implicit nature of sleep learning makes the phenomenon useful for people who want to shed a bad habit, like smoking, or form new good ones.

“Guga” means elephant: Learning languages during sleep? In their 2017 study published in the journal Nature Communications, subjects were able to pick out complex sound patterns that they had heard during sleep.

Learning abilities in sleep may extend to the learning of words. In a study published in the journal Current Biology in January, researchers played pairs of made-up words and their supposed meanings, like that “guga” means elephant, to sleeping participants. After this, when awake, the people performed better than chance when they had to pick the right translation of made-up words in a multichoice test.

What all these studies have in common is that they show an implicit form of memory. “It’s not some knowledge they’ll be able to use spontaneously, because they don’t know this knowledge is even there”. [Heart Care Tips: Why Are Young People Having Heart Attacks?]

“The question is, ‘Where do we go from there?'”

Learning a new language involves many different layers: recognizing the sounds, learning the vocabulary and mastering the grammar.

So far, research suggests it may be possible to get familiarized with the tone and accent of a language or even the meaning of words while sleeping, but to a weaker level than what we already do all the time during the day without noticing.

While losing quality sleep to potentially learn a few words is not a smart trade-off, researchers continue to study sleep learning because the compromise may be worth it in special cases.

For example, sleep learning could be useful when people need to change a habit or alter stubborn disturbing memories in cases of phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

And some forms of implicit learning that may help in those situation may occur more strongly during sleep.

This article on "Hkitnob: Health Columns" is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to offer medical advice.