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Learning While Asleep

There have been many claims that one can learn while asleep – possibly with the aid of a recorded series of suggestions or information being spoken from a speaker under one’s pillow. Different research projects have arrived at a variety of conclusions. The major scientific conclusion is that we do not learn from what we hear while asleep. Sleep is important in the process of learning however. If one learns a list of nonsense words, memory of them eight or twenty four hours later, is better if we have slept. Memory eight hours later without sleep is not as efficient as twenty four hours later with intervening sleep. This suggests memory traces are strengthened during sleep.

That we do learn, in the sense of creating new information or perception, while we sleep is generally accepted. Albert Einstein suggested that the creative scientists are those who have access to their dreams. He meant that in order to be innovative we must be able to periodically leave behind the practical everyday path of common sense and rational thought. The rational tends to move in areas of thought connected with what is already known. To create something new, to find a new direction, we may need to be capable of retrieving apparently irrational ideas, sift them and reconstruct them in practical ways. See Learn

Dreams have this ability to fantasise, to look at and experience the irrational, to take an idea and move it completely out of its old setting or viewpoint. Because our mind can do this in sleep, we can touch not only our creativity, but also our ability to problem solve. As a personal test of this, try the following experiment. At the end of this explanation a problem will be set. It is one that requires no special training or information to solve. The solution is simple and will be seen as correct when reached. But, do not even begin to think about the problem until you go to bed! It would discount the experiment if you did. On going to bed, think about the problem for no more than 15 minutes. If you solve the problem note how long it took. If not, stop thinking about it and go to sleep, making the resolve to remember any dreams. It is likely you will dream the answer. If not, on waking spend a further 15 minutes trying to reach the answer. The letters ‘O,T,T,F,F,-,-,’ form the beginning of an intelligible series. Add two more letters which make it obvious that an infinite number of letters could be added.

But a great deal of what we learn is never made conscious. Even dreams are only a process that has to be unfolded as explained in Learn. Dreams images are like icons on a computer screen – you have to ‘click’ on your dream images to make them come alive. Thinking about them doesn’t work. You need to open yourself to the magic of them. You can then unlock the symbolic language of dreams and understand what a wonderful learning creature we are. To ‘click’ on a dream image you need to use techniques described in Techniques for Exploring your Dreams

  A study of the brain show that a part of it analyzes each input pattern and when we smell something, then synthesizes its own message, which is transmits via axons to another part of the olfactory system, the olfactory cortex. From there, new signals are sent to many parts of the brain–not the least of which is an area called the entorhinal cortex, where the signals those from other sensory systems. The result is a meaning-laden perception that is unique to each individual.

At this time a massive amount of separate experience or learning is experience all at the same moment. This happens when you allow the deepest parts of your nature freedom to express its content. Every time we look at newsprint photos we know a gestalt. From thousands of dots of different hues we make a whole picture. We are creating inner gestalts all the time, but unless we can make them conscious we are missing massive areas of what we learn. We see tens of thousands of people over a period of time. Each person is like a dot in the newsprint photo, but how often do we put all the dots together to get an overall picture of humanity? That is how w e learn in sleep, because dreams put together all the separate experiences of our life – the dots – and try to show us the whole picture.

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