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This writer is yet to test the effectiveness of sleep-learning, meanwhile, this article was published while half-asleep. 

Do you remember placing your book under your pillow when you go to sleep at night, hoping that by dawn, your chi would have helped your brain memorise its content ahead of the test you failed to prepare for? Or perhaps, you do not feel adequately prepared enough to ace the subject. 

You have probably had to put your Bible, or Quran beneath your pillow as some sort of protection against the unseen night evil. You must have thought, “I will remember what part of the scripture to quote to terror every nightmare in my sleep.” 

Well, the good news is, it works! Maybe not exactly the way you have been doing and imagining it, I mean it is not magic, it is more of neuroscience. Now, by the time you are done reading this, you can spend less time reading, sleep all you want, and still ace your examinations. I am not assuring you, but do not lose hope yet. 

Sleep learning might cease to be a chimaera of Spanish castles, but a fun reality with your memory enhanced while you snooze heavily. Although scientists, writers, artists and students most especially have romanticized the idea of learning while sleeping, it was thought very unlikely. 

However, the possibility that our productivity level could drastically improve by sleep learning is fascinating, and maybe like the popular American animated sitcom, The Simpsons’ inarticulate Homer, our gastronomic rapacity will know no satiety. While there are no proven methods to enable you to acquire a skill completely from scratch when you are unconscious, sleeping can be used to boost your memory. 

Studies have shown that at night, our brain does not shut down, instead, it engages and consolidates our reminiscence from the day before, and there could be ways to enhance that process which are mostly dependent on sound.

How does it work? 

A recent experiment conducted by scientists focused on making native Germans who could not speak Dutch learn the language while sleeping, beginning with elementary words. Divided into a group of two, the scientists played a sound recording of basic Dutch vocabulary to one group of the unaware sleeping Germans, while the other group was not exposed to any such sound. 

After the sleep learning process, they were all tested on the words, the group that had listened to them overnight was better able to recognise and translate the Dutch language, while the other group could not. To prove that the research experiment and findings were true and effective, the scientists had another group listen to the recording while awake, but engaged in some other activity. They failed to recall the words as the sleepers.

What happens to the brain while you are asleep? 

Our brain activity slows down in specific shifts overnight, with some of us spending more time in a special phase called slow-wave sleep (SWS) than others. 

But slow-wave sleep is also the phase of sleep when scientists believe some of our short-term memories are moved into long-term storage in our prefrontal cortex. In other words, perhaps the more slow-wave sleep we get, the better – both for learning new skills and preserving important memories. (Health and Technology writer, Erin Brodwin)

There are several similar studies based on scientific experiments that show that you can learn musical instruments, skills, languages, protect special memory as well as recall object placement through sound while sleeping. 

Do you have voluminous books to read? Are you mentally stressed to read and fully grasp lengthy notes? Recording your books in a tape or voice recorder can accelerate your learning process. 

Just like audiobooks technology, all you have to do is to have your earphones plugged, or play them out with speakers. The only thing you would be doing differently is sleeping.

Now that sleep-learning is not a pipe dream, our big castles can hang beautifully in the air while having a good night!

Your half-asleep writer. 


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