Sleep learning in the 1920’s

Here is an interesting news blurb from a 1923 Time Magazine about radio operators who accidentally stumbled upon the idea of sleep learning:

The accidental falling asleep, with the phones on his head, of a student in training for a job as radio operator in the U. S. Navy led to a discovery which will vastly shorten the process of manufacturing experts in wireless telegraphy. While the code and its translation were coming through the ether, the brain cells of the sleeping man, in a state of plastic receptivity, were absorbing the meaning of the dots and dashes and forming new associations. On waking, he was able to repeat accurately everything he had received in sleep. Psychologists say that such results are feasible because of the automatic, repetitive nature of the material conveyed to the dormant brain.

Navy officials immediately instituted tests of the method at Pensacola, Fla. Twelve students who were making unsatisfactory progress were tried out. After two nights, during which the code was sent to those students in sleep, ten had learned the lesson, and the other two had left the class before completion of the experiment. The instructors now report that ” the experimental stage is past, and the method may now be termed a standard one.”

Today the concept of sleep learning actually focuses less on unconscious sleep and more on the “twilight state” between alpha and theta. This highly receptive state is useful not only for memorizing rote facts, but for conceptualizing them, and forming new ideas. This is the state we focus on in one of the learning tools in NP2

Thanks to Mind Hacks for this.

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