Babies and Sleep

I bet you didn’t know that babies can learn in their sleep.

Usually, when someone is learning they are awake. This way they can visually see and learn what to do. In school, teachers can’t really have their students sleeping while they are still teaching, this is why children in Kindergarten have nap times after lunch. This way when asleep the child will be able to recollect what they’ve learned. When you go to sleep close to the time after you were just taught something, it will be easier to remember later because your brain is putting together everything you were exposed to in the environment you were in.

The part of the brain that does this is called the entorhinal cortex. The function of this part of the brain is involved with learning, memory and Alzheimer’s disease. The study’s senior author, Mayank R. Mehta (a professor of neurophysics in UCLA’s departments of neurology, neurobiology, and physics and astronomy) and his team discovered that the entorhinal cortex is constantly active, even in your sleep. Humans spend 1/3 of their lives sleeping, and any hindrance in your sleep can affect your memory and learning severely. The entorhinal cortex and the hippocampus “communicate” with each other during sleep, and it is believed that this conversation has a part in memory consolidation, the establishing of memories.

Babies sleep 3-4 hours at a time each day, during daylight or night, making for a total of 18 hours a day. While they sleep, babies can hear whatever is going on in their environment. Researchers at the University of Florida say that infants are constantly learning to respond to the world around them, especially when they’re sleeping.

“We found a basic form of learning in sleeping newborns…” Dana Byrd, a research affiliate in psychology whom worked on the project, told XYZ news outlet.

To test the theory, the researchers played repeating tones while 26 newborn babies were sleeping. They gently puffed their eyelids with air after the sound. Within 20 minutes, 24 of the babies learned to squeeze their eyelids together when they recognized the tones. They knew that a puff of air would follow afterwards. This shows that about 92% of babies learn from the environment around them in their sleep. An example of hearing in their sleep, when parents talk in front of their children while they’re a sleep, they will learn words faster and easier. Soon they would be able to speak fully.

Babies intelligence can increase from just one nap or sleep. There is a sufficient amount of evidence to prove that your most likely to retain information or whatever you learned in your sleep. New research by neuroscientists at Northwestern University in Chicago shows people can actually learn while they’re asleep. College volunteers for the experiment were given diagrams that showed them how to play a piano melody that was only 12 notes long. They were given a 90 minute nap, and while they were napping the melody they were learning was played repeatedly for 4 minutes.

“The re-activation process in the experiment is thought to affect a naturally occurring memory consolidation process that normally proceeds over months (possibly years),” Paul Reber, a psychologist at Northwestern and co-author of the study, told XYZ news outlet.

In this quote, near the beginning of the article, the author explains that the activity in the brain when sleeping, is the same activity that goes on in the part of the brain when your trying to remember something. “A type of brain wave thought to be associated with memory processing” (Tech Media Network, 2012).

The part of the brain that does this is called the entorhinal cortex, as I recognized in the beginning of my article. If this is true for teenagers, young adults and adults, then the same goes for babies when they sleep. Since babies do this often, they can better recall what they’ve learned/experienced from their environment. A baby getting the sufficient amount of sleep they need will help them to learn faster and become more intelligent.

~ Victoria A. Fischer

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