Sleep LearningSleep learning is a subject that remains of interest to many people, despite disagreements over its effectiveness. So what exactly does the expression mean?
What is Sleep Learning?It is important to distinguish sleep learning from the normal learning processes that go on during sleep. Many studies have shown that a good night's sleep assists the learning process. Sleep helps you to learn information that you have come across during the day. Some people speculate that one function of sleep is to allow the human brain to "organise" the day's memories.
HypnopaediaSleep learning, also known as hypnopaedia, is different. It is specifically about learning information whilst asleep rather than consolidating the day's input. Using the night time hours like this is intended to result in accelerated learning as you learn while you sleep.
Most of today's methods of sleep learning involve audio tapes. These gently repeat certain information or affirmations during the course of the night. Some of these tapes contain simple statements, others include hypnotic inductions. Some tapes contain music or binaural betas, some have the information encoded subliminally.
Sleep learning can theoretically be used for anything, however the most common applications appear to be learning languages and breaking bad habits. In the latter case sleep learning is often associated with self-hypnosis.
LiteratureThe idea of sleep learning has appealed to many science fiction writers. One of the earliest references to sleep learning comes in Hugo Gernsback's 1911 novel Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660. This describes a "Hypnobioscope" that implants electrical signals directly into the brain of the sleeper.
In Aldous Huxley's 1931 classic Brave New World hypnopaedia is used as a method of brainwashing and control, implanting thoughts and beliefs into people whilst they sleep.