Studying for an exam? Finishing a mountain of homework? Preparing your interview for an internship, remembering your drama lines or simply perfecting a presentation, it can often feel that there aren't enough hours in the day to process and retain all that information. Many of our school going kids, and I mean from year 8 onward.... work late into the night to complete their school assignments. But could this be the worst thing that they can do? A recent study has revealed that rather than boosting productivity levels, staying up throughout the night can actually be harmful to the brain.
Let's look into this a bit more... Do we learn whilst we are asleep?
Many experts believe that we continue learning long after we fall asleep. Our brains are actually very active when we're asleep, and this is when a process known as 'memory consolidation occurs'. This involves the brain turning information into lasting memories, busily processing and consolidating our recollections from the day before. The question is, if sleep is vital for building memories, can we take advantage of that and choose to learn whilst we are fast asleep?
Can sleep-learning help to learn brand new information?
Sleep-learning refers to the brain's ability to learn information from material heard whilst we are asleep. You may have seen audio books that you can listen to during sleep in order to learn a new language or a particular skill. Whilst this does sound like the ideal solution to learning for an exam or committing a part in your school play to memory, it's not so clear cut. Research has demonstrated that you can’t learn completely new information while asleep.
Sleep can enhance your memory, but it won't help you learn the information to begin with.
So, whilst there's no method that allows you to soak up new knowledge while you're asleep, that doesn’t mean that you still can’t use sleep to boost your memory. A good night's sleep can help your brain to cement the facts or skills learned throughout the day, ensuring that you have a better grasp of the content that you need to memorise. Giving you a great head start the next morning!