Years ago, you could buy language and even motivational tapes that were designed to be played while you slept. Many people dismissed this technique, but new research shows it may have actually worked.
Until now, sleep research focused on the consolidation of memories that had been formed during preceding wakefulness. However, learning during sleep has rarely been examined.
Swiss researchers wanted to find out whether it was possible to learn entirely new information while sleeping, and retain that information into wakefulness. The study, conducted by Katharina Henke, Marc Züst und Simon Ruch at the University of Bern, Switzerland, showed for the first time that new foreign words and their translation words could be learned while the subject slept. Following waking, participants could recall the sleep-formed associations of foreign words.
The results underscore a new theoretical notion of the relationship between memory and consciousness that Katharina Henke published in 2010.
“In how far and with what consequences deep sleep can be utilized for the acquisition of new information will be a topic of research in upcoming years”, said Henke.