Can I really learn while I sleep?
You can’t, but by improving your sleep quality, you can learn 100% more than you are doing right now.
I usually talk a lot with my students during classes, and I recently noticed that when they don’t sleep really well, they struggle more than usual to find the right word for what they want to say.
Your mental health is completely entangled in your learning process, and it’s impossible to learn effectively if your body is suffering. Think of your body more like a factory where your body members are like the workers, and each one of them is crucial for its function. If any of them suffer an injury, it will impact the work of all the others, and the factory will no longer work as it is supposed to. Now, think of sleeping as a resource that the manager of its factory needs to produce more. What happens to a factory when it lacks an important resource? In some cases, its production will slow down, but perhaps in others, it will still operate with the left resources. Either way, the factory will no longer work at full speed, and it will inevitably collapse if not supplied.
If you didn’t get the picture, the manager is your brain, and the resource we are talking about is sleep. Your brain needs that; every night, you deny it for your brain, you are damaging your body as a whole, and the outcome won’t be good.
What should I do to keep my factory on the road then?
In days now, people are talking a lot about sleeping habits, exercises, self-care, mindfulness, etc., and perhaps you are sick of hearing about that. Still, fortunately, or unfortunately, all these things are important for your learning process. Let’s see why?
Sleeping: Sleep is important to several brain functions, and according to the NHI website, your brain and body stay remarkably active while you sleep. Recent findings suggest that sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake. So, now take a second and ask yourself: where are these toxins if I’m not getting enough sleep? Yes, they are on your body, disturbing its functionality and consequentially slowing down my brain along with my learning process.
Exercises: According to the Help Guide website, the same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand, which brings us back to the point: sleep can definitely help you to learn quicker and much more efficiently.
Selfcare: We all have busy schedules, husbands, wives, children; there’s always so much going on in our lives that it is difficult to even think about taking time for ourselves, but if you want to get the best of your studies, self-care must be one of your priorities too. Take time to look after yourself, to do things that make you feel happy. Perhaps a nice meal, a good glass of wine on a Friday night, a long bath, etc. All these simple but important things can lower your stress levels and, if you are less stressed, of course, your brain will blossom like a flower in spring.
Mindfulness: I always tell my students: ‘don’t say that you don’t speak English when someone tries to talk to you,’ instead, you can say: I’m learning English, could you please speak slowly? Why do I say that? Because I strongly believe in the power of words, your brain keeps a record of whatever you say. That’s why stay positive is so important when learning, actually, anything. Being mindful also means forgive yourself; everybody makes mistakes, especially when we are learning something, so don’t torture yourself because of mistakes. Remember: if you made a mistake, it means that you tried, and if you tried, you should receive a compliment, not a punishment. Remember, tomorrow is a new day if you fail today, so stay positive even when you don’t feel like it.
The bottom line:
Have you noticed how quickly kids learn? I would say that it happens because they don’t have to worry about bills to pay, work to do, food to cook, etc. As an adult, we don’t have the same privileges, but by looking after our mental health, we can all increase our learning in the same way.
Looking after your mind is the best thing you can do for your body, so use this post not only as advice for improving your English, even though that’s the whole point, but you can also use it as a tip for live a longer and happier life!