Language Hack 5: Sleep

Sleep is one of the most under appreciated sources of energy and clear thinking.

Because of the multi sensory experience of living outside my comfort zones continuously and trying to wrap my brain around new words and a brand new culture, my early days in Jordan were enveloped in a dull cloud of tiredness. At times I felt like a zombie: there, but not really there.

After a while this deep tiredness began to subside, but I’ve noticed that having enough sleep, even slightly more than I’d need in my home culture is a winning ingredient for absorbing new vocabulary.

If I try and memorise new words at the end of a school day they do not stick. My brain hasn’t had time to absorb everything I’ve been learning during the day, so it’s like pouring water into a glass that’s already full: the extra water just trickles down the sides.

But I found a way to get more out of my afternoons. If I take a 15 minute nap after school, I feel refreshed and ready for an afternoon of studying and visits.

According to a recent study from the University of Chicago, having 6 hours sleep for a prolonged period of time is the same as having no sleep for 2 days.

In the last few days of the experiment, the subjects who were restricted to a maximum of six hours of sleep per night showed cognitive performance that was as bad as the people who weren’t allowed to sleep at all…

One of the most alarming results from the sleep study is that the six-hour sleep group didn’t rate their sleepiness as being all that bad, even as their cognitive performance was going downhill. ( FastCompany)

Unsurprisingly, the group that had 8 hours’ sleep a night performed the best.

As for the connection between sleep and memory, some research has shown that while we sleep our brains replay experiences from the day, which deepens our recall of those events later. If we don’t go through full sleep cycles, we miss out on this memory-consolodation process.

Want to improve your memory? Get yourself a good sleep habit. 

(Image source: Peng Zhang)