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Sleep Training Science: Myth or Reality

You go to bed with a failing grade, get up in the morning, and you’ve already got all your calculus (Chinese, the main dates of the Middle Ages) in your head. It’s probably every student’s dream. It’s not that easy, of course. But hypnopedia or sleep training does exist. Let’s talk about what this method is and how you can use it to your advantage.

Sleeping in your hand

People have been trying to memorize information in their sleep (along with trying to get insights while asleep) since antiquity. The scientific rationale for this process appeared only in the 20th century, along with the development of the classical school of evidence. The military and psychiatrists of various countries conducted studies on how cadets and patients remembered data while asleep. For this purpose, the subjects were turned on recordings or invited a hypnotist who worked with the sleepers.

The development of the method was stimulated in the middle of the last century when encephalography was invented and began to be introduced into medical practice. It became possible to obtain detailed data: which brain rhythm is activated during sleep (alpha, theta…), how fast and slow sleep phases change each other, how it all combines with the information a sleeper receives, whether it can be remembered upon awakening.

Accordingly, with the development of technology, the appearance of more advanced monitoring devices, MRI experiments on how to influence memory during sleep continued.

Scientists concluded that you can’t just turn on a recording to a sleeper, and then upon awakening, play it back as if you had taught it. However, this did not stop the method from being popularized, around the world, it was called hypnopedia. Enterprising businessmen even began to sell courses based on it (most often in foreign languages).

Sleep training has been described and shown infamous works.

For example, in Aldous Huxley’s Oh, Wonderful New World, a boy learns English by listening to a dream radio lecture, and when as an adult he becomes head of government, he also begins to treat the population ideologically.

In The Ugly Swans by Strugatsky, prodigies were trained similarly.

Sleep Learning. Expectation vs. Reality

It is possible to influence the subconscious mind, and the latter already – the consciousness, but not so “hatchet”. This has already been proven in the XXI century. As well as the fact that training in a dream can be used as an auxiliary method. And in different variations.

The easiest – as in the proverb “the morning wiser than the evening” – to start mastering a difficult topic before bed, not trying to learn it perfectly. Give your brain a good load and go to bed. Overnight the new knowledge will be systematized, as they say, digested, and in the morning it will be easier to continue. Something will have already been assimilated, many things will start to come easier.

A more exotic, but also have the right to existence method (it was confirmed by researchers from the Weizmann Institute in 2012): during training, use a scent that you like, and then go to bed without taking it away. You can, for example, drop essential oils on an aroma lamp, open a can of coffee or a bag of cinnamon so that the smell spreads around the room, spray yourself with your favorite perfume. In the morning, the new information will assimilate even better. Its quite helpful when you need toabsorb a lot of new information while working as lab report writer or in any other academic field. Why does this happen? Most likely, the brain receives a pleasant stimulus, begins to work better.

Finally, for the most meticulous – the development of the method, which tried to study in the ’50s of XX century to include records during certain phases of sleep. The idea is that during the slow phase the brain is inactive, but when the fast phase comes – it works hard: from short-term memory, it transfers information into long-term and erases unnecessary information. This is the time when a person dreams. Theoretically, then there is also a chance for data from outside to get into the long-term memory. However, scientists have not yet managed to achieve this with practically 100% results.

First, this phase of sleep is very short, lasting a few minutes. How much can you perceive during this time?

Secondly, it must be “caught” or act at random: to include a recording for the whole night with the expectation that something will be absorbed. This is uncomfortable.

With the help of hypnopedia, it is better to assimilate something concrete: new words, tables, formulas, rather than abstractions, which the brain is unlikely to want to understand in its sleep. It will be easier for him to delete the incomprehensible.

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