Sleep learning or Hypnopaedia came to light for the common people through the book – Brave New World written by Aldous Huxley. The book is set centuries ahead in future where people are “designed” for the work they are destined to do right in their childhood. They are designed through methods Hypnopaedia or sleep learning. Hypnopaedia, of course, is just one many other methods and techniques they used.
Definition: A simple definition would be, learning by hearing while one sleeps. Certain recordings are played while an individual sleeps for several days repeatedly. The result is that the individual learns these things by heart without questioning them. In Brave New World, the people are seen saying certain phrases and sentences just of reflex. Those certain phrases are force-programmed into their brains leading them to believe them without questioning them.
Hypnopaedia was invented by Alois Benjamin Saliger in 1927, who discovered that a subconscious mind is highly receptive to suggestions. Although, there’s no concrete evidence that tells that a person can memorize while in sleep just by listening to recordings, but sleep has long been known to strengthen human memory.
Several experiments have been carried out since on verifying the ability of humans to sleep learn. Some of them included helping people get rid of annoying habits like nail biting, or helping them gain more confidence. All of them gave mixed results.
It is discovered that actual learning only happened when the person was in “waking-state” and when certain regions of the brain were waking up. So, the conclusion was to not to call it “sleep learning” because no learning actually happened in sleep.
As interesting it might sound, sleep learning is dangerous. It can be used to manipulate you and, change your belief system. So, for the good of everyone, nobody has ever achieved any successful outcomes out of sleep learning. It sounds like bad news for students, but it’s wrong to merely memorize something you don’t even understand. Our conscious mind gives us the gift to question the things that we learn, conscious learning allows us to ask ‘why’, allows us to put forward arguments against what we are learning.
Happy learning people!