Sleep is a beautiful thing, and uninterrupted sleep may be the closest we’ll get to heaven while on this earth. As the wise Mindy Kaling once wrote, “There is no sunrise so beautiful that is worth waking me up to see it.”
While our bodies need sleep to function properly and to make us more pleasant, less grumpy people, sometimes it feels like sleeping can be a waste of time. But what if I told you that you could quite easily enhance the productivity of your sleep?
More specifically, foreign words. In a recent study involving native German participants, scientists began teaching the participants some Dutch vocabulary words. Then, they played some of the Dutch words to select participants while they slept. The group that heard the words overnight was able to identify and translate the words much better than the group that didn’t hear the words.
Scientists believe it has something to do with the slow brain activity during sleep. While we’re in these slow-motion sleep periods, our brain moves memories from temporary storage to long-term storage. So the German volunteers that heard the vocabulary words overnight produced more slow-wave brain activity, thus had better recall of the words while awake.
6. So How Can You Learn A Foreign Language In Your Sleep?
Don’t try to learn an entirely new language in your sleep — it won’t work. Instead, play foreign words that you have already heard for the first two or three hours of sleep. When you wake up in the morning, test yourself on your recall to ensure that the words stuck. And voila! You’re on your way to being fluent in another language!
Good news for aspiring musicians: your dream of crushing that guitar solo may be a few sleeps away. One study used "Guitar Hero" to assess whether or not taking a nap after learning a guitar melody could improve their ability to play the melody afterward, and it turns out that it can. The group that heard the melody during their nap was able to play the melody better than the group that didn’t hear it.
If you are trying to learn a new song on the piano or a new melody on the guitar, you can enhance your recall ability by listening to the sound while sleeping. Just like learning the foreign words, however, you must have already started learning to play the melody before snoozing.
We all wish we could have a better memory, don’t we? Well, you can actually improve your memory and all you have to do is sleep! Studies have proven that if you listen to a sound associated with a particular memory while you sleep, you will be improve your ability to hold onto that memory.
Scientists have also discovered that sounds aren’t the only things that can improve our memory while we sleep. Smells can also improve our recall, as long as they are scents that we associate with particular memories.
There you have it! You can get smarter while sleeping. So now you have a great excuse for your daily nap.