We have heard of people taking a nap to increase their mental awareness and productivity. But one study has proclaimed that listening to recordings while you’re asleep will actually help you to learn faster.
For example: are you finding that you need to learn a new language to better succeed in your career? We may have the answer. While this study centers around learning a language, it’s possible that we can use this to our advantage in numerous aspects of our lives. Even though many students joke about literally falling asleep on a textbook, dubbed “learning through osmosis,” there may be some credence to that claim.
Researchers Thomas Schreiner and Björn Rasch, based out of Zurich and Fribourg universities, respectively, decided to test this out on German-speakers who were trying to learn Dutch. They took 60 volunteers, and at 10:00 PM asked them to learn pairs of vocabulary words. Afterwards, they let them doze off while listening to a recording of the words while the control group stayed awake and listened to the same recording. Those napping were awakened at 2:00 AM and promptly given a test along with those unlucky enough to have to stay awake. Surprisingly, those who got to doze excelled over those who didn’t sleep.
Schreiner and Rasch concluded that this is strong evidence that sleep can spontaneously activate newly learned material. There is also evidence that suggests other stimuli combined with sleep can produce even greater results. In a previous study Rasch has already proved that scent has a strong tie to memory, using the smell of roses on napping volunteers after learning memory cards. This most recent study showed similar results using verbal cues instead of smells. According to Rasch, this makes this mode of learning even more accessible:
“Our method is easy to use in daily life and can be adopted by anyone.”
So would this translate to having to learn a new process at work? Could an employee study material and then listen to a recording of the process steps? Not necessarily. Schreiner is quick to point out this method doesn’t work if it’s new material never before learned. Schreiner explained:
“You can only successfully activate words that you have learned before you go to sleep. Playing back words you don’t know while you’re asleep has no effect.”
Businesses wishing to incorporate this methodology should be cautious on two fronts: First, Schreiner and Rasch’s research is still highly experimental. No results have yet to be found outside their laboratory settings. Second, this mode of learning doesn’t mean the passive “osmosis” learning students joke about is going to become reality. While sleep may be able to activate and enhance learning, it’s not a substitute for actually engaging in material and learning the “old-fashioned” way, either by reading, viewing or listening.
If this research does eventually yield results in the workplace, it could revolutionize the way businesses instruct their employees. Imagine, instead of long meetings in conference rooms going over flow charts and matrixes, employee “nap times” where this information plays over speakers or through head phones while the employees drift into dreamland. Perhaps one day, the notion of an afternoon “siesta” won’t just be a pie-in-the-sky dream of an employee perk or rest time. It could be an exercise initiated by HR or management in an effort to increase productivity!
The Methodology Blog already supports using sleep to increase productivity growth. If you are looking for more ways to increase your efficiency, reach out to one of our business improvement consultants today!