Self Care

Can You Learn During Sleep?

Can you learn during sleep? Absolutely, but it depends on who you ask and your definition of learning! Still, it’s important to note that because we are asleep, it does not mean our minds are taking a break.
Limited evidence exists on whether we can acquire new skills from scratch; Yet, there is plenty of research about the quality of sleep you manage to achieve the length or degree to which you can learn new things. Studies demonstrate that a lot of our memories and especially, our ability to grasp complex concepts learned during the day happen as we are sleeping.

The key to this process occurring is ensuring that we make every effort to achieve consistent levels of quality sleep.
Sure, you are probably scratching your head wondering how it is possible to create more concrete memories of new information when you know friends who used to pull all-nighters and ace exams.
While your friends may have managed to chuck a fair amount of information into their minds and regurgitate it for the test, one cannot help but question how much of that information stayed with them after the exam?
Getting adequate sleep and most importantly, spending time in the light Non-REM (rapid-eye-movement) and REM cycles allow us to consolidate and store members that we might later need to use for a situation or event.
The ability to learn is not limited to storing memories. It goes far deeper than memory storage. It has everything to do with sound. Medical News Today reports that sleep allows us to refine memories while asleep, reactivate memories while asleep and later apply them correctly. The brain can create fresh memories while we sleep through sound.

In the Journal of Nature Communications, a study revealed that participants who heard sounds played for them while asleep in the REM cycle were able to recognize the same sound patterns when awake.
Another study demonstrates that you may be able to learn a new language in your sleep if you hear the same words repeatedly played while you sleep. However, for this to be successful, you must be careful not to disturb the brain and allow it to rest.
The key to learning, however, is repetition. For example, the same study showed that when researchers tried to introduce a new word in rapid succession with the first, the retention level dropped off slightly. The good news is that these individuals did not forget what they learned, even when provided with erroneous information which becomes critical for information retention.

This little factoid is particularly crucial if you worry that something of great importance might easily be wiped away with repetitive misinformation. Our mind’s capacity to decipher between right and wrong is not affected thanks to the inner workings of problem-solving and managing complex information.
Keep in mind that while these studies would have us believe that learning is possible with sound while we sleep, there are skeptics who challenge their validity. First, many questions if it is possible that the participant did not awaken during the sounds and learn during that period while listening to the recording.
Though researchers would probably prefer to believe their subjects remained asleep during this process, there is always a chance that they did in fact awaken. If this is indeed true, it could squash the theory that learning through sound is a possibility.
While skeptics and researchers can debate the impact of sound, most can agree that the process of learning that we associate with memory creation, synthesis and storage does exist and relies heavily on the quality of sleep we achieve nightly.