October 6, 2015

How Much Can You Really Learn While You're Asleep?

In Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World, Polish boy Reuben Rabinovitch falls asleep next to a radio receiver. When he wakes up, he is able to recite the entire broadcast. He has no idea what any of it means, though – it’s all in English.

Maria Zarnayova/EPA
Countless articles today claim that you can actually learn music, hone your foreign language skills, or cram for tomorrow’s math exam during sleep. And there is a whole industry trading on this idea. Subliminal message tapes, popularized by self-help guru Tony Robbins, promise to help you stop smoking, lose weight, and even brush up your golf skills and find love – all the while catching some shut eye.

The big sell of “sleep learning” is seductive – how lovely it would be to be productive while we lie like lifeless lumps in bed. But is it actually based on any evidence?

Read the rest at The Guardian here.

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