The secret to a great night's sleep

Learning new languages while we sleep

Swiss psychologists have found that listening to new languages when asleep can actually help to reinforce learning.

The team from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) who were writing for the journal Cerebal Cortex, carried out the experiment on sixty German-speaking student volunteers. The students were gathered together at 10pm in order to learn a selection of Dutch words for the first time. Whilst half of the students went to sleep under lab conditions, the other half were instructed to stay awake. Both groups then had the Dutch words played back to them.

After re-testing the students at approximately 2am, those who had got some shut eye could remember the new words better than those who were forced to stay awake.

EEG recordings, which measured the electrical activity in the brain of those volunteers who slept, found that they had a higher frequency of frontal slow waves as well as more activity in both the right frontal and left parietal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for processing new languages.

All in all this study proved that the brain takes in new information more effectively whilst sleeping and is more likely to remember information on awakening.


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