How to Learn a Language in Your Sleep Or Is It Even Possible?

By | April 16, 2017

Have you ever been thinking how to learn a language in your sleep? Wouldn’t it be great to master a new language without spending a minute of your time awake on studying it? New words would just sink into your head night by night. Little by little you would also catch a correct grammar and start thinking in a new language. Today I am going to share how did it work for me and what other language experts are saying about the subject.

How to Learn a Language in Your Sleep

Have you learned a new language in your sleep?

Forbes: “It Is Possible to Learn a New Language while Sleeping!”

An article on Forbes stated that you really can improve your language skills while sleeping. There was a Swiss study that divided German people into two groups. They were showed German-Dutch language pairs and students tried to memorize them. The other part of the group went to sleep while the other group was kept awake.

In the room were the other group was sleeping was playing an audio which repeated some of the word pairs that they had just studied and some new ones. Then researchers woke up this group and tested both groups how many words they recalled. The results clearly showed that the group that had heard audio playback during their sleep, were able to recall more words.

Does that prove that you can learn a new language while sleeping? Not in my opinion. There may be many reasons why they recalled more words. Here are some of them that I figured out:

1.The group that was sleeping had probably more energy. If you are tired, your brain doesn’t work as fast as when you have full energy. If you are well-rested you will more likely answer questions, more accurately than after an exhausting work day, for example.

2.The “sleeping group” just happened have more experience. They didn’t tell how they chose students for these two groups. What if on the other group consisted of people who had much more experience of language learning than the other?

3.The “sleeping group” studied better. Some students concentrate better and achieve the same results with less time. What if the sleeping group concentrated better than the people in the other group. Then it has nothing to do with their sleep.

My Own Experiments – Learning French and Spanish while Sleeping

Two years ago I was studying French and Spanish very intensively. I spent some time every day and I progressed very fast. Then I thought, “Why wouldn’t I save my time and learn French while I am sleeping.” My friend at the university said that it worked well for her so I decided to try it myself.

I searched for a French audio on Youtube and put the headphones before going to sleep. I continued it for some nights but I didn’t recognize any difference with my French skills. What has happened if I would have continued it longer like 1 month? I don’t know for sure but I guess that nothing.

World’s most famous language guru Benny Lewis says that passive listening doesn’t help if you don’t concentrate on what you hear in the audio. He has tried tens of different ways to learn languages but he doesn’t recommend passive listening. I recommend listening while you are doing something else (riding a bike, driving a car, cooking, etc.) because it has worked very well for me.

Brothers from Babbel who speak more than 10 languages don’t recommend language learning while sleeping either. I believe them and Benny Lewis on this thing. I always say that it’s wise to learn from those who have already achieved something that you would like to achieve.

If you find a real language guru that would recommend language learning while sleeping, I could think about changing my mind. Let me know in the comments below if you know some.

Is It Just Marketers’ Trick?

Do you know what marketers and salespersons love to sell? Easy solutions. Let me give you a few examples:

Make $3,700/month online by working 2 hours a week.

Lose 20 kilos in 4 months by using only 5 minutes of your time.

Learn a new language without using a minute of your time.

Does this sound somehow familiar? I like to use this language sometimes to raise my reader’s curiosity but I always tell how the things really go. If you want to achieve anything worthwhile in life, you need to work.

How to Learn a Language in Your Sleep

Sometimes salespeople are just looking for ways to increase their sales. So be careful.

Many times people don’t feel like working so they are just looking for quick solutions. Playing lotto, trying a new magic diet, buying a “learn-a-language-while-you-sleep”-course and so on. The problem with this kind of solutions is that they don’t bring you solid results.

I know that it’s possible to learn a new language in 3 months but it doesn’t happen without any efforts. I had a little failure with my German learning because I thought that I would learn it automatically when I am living in Austria. I realized that I will not learn German if I don’t actively use time for studying it. Whether is reading the Bible or talking with a friend, I need to dive into the language to learn it.

Conclusion – How to Learn a Language in Your Sleep?

I believe that “learn-a-language-while-you-sleep” methods are not legitimate. They are just marketers’ trick who are trying to make more money because of people’s neglect of work.

Listening to an audio when you are sleeping can actually affect negatively to your language learning. The quality of your sleep will probably not be so good. If you wake up during the night, you can easily start thinking about the audio and it will be more difficult to fall asleep again.

I recommend to sleep your nights well without audios or social media so you will have lots of energy for a new day. Then language learning will be also easier.

I would love to hear from you:

Have you ever tried to learn a language while sleeping? How did it work and what kind of experiences did you have? Do you like audio-based language programs in general?

Let me know in the comments below! 🙂



8 thoughts on “How to Learn a Language in Your Sleep Or Is It Even Possible?

  1. Caroline

    I think it has been scientifically proven that learning something just *before* going to sleep, but then making sure you do go to sleep, helps you to memorise it. Something to do with fusing the synapses in your brain while you sleep… I don’t remember all the science, but I know the conclusion is that it’s better to spend time studying before bed, but then going to sleep, rather than trying to cram overnight!

    I had some success with this kind of technique when I used a Pimmsleur audio language course for Brazilian Portuguese. I would take a new lesson each evening, and then go to sleep. In the morning I would repeat the same lesson to embed it into my head, and then that evening move onto the next lesson.

    Have you tried the Pimmsleur audio courses? They are quite a different way of learning, but I find them very good. The only problem is that you miss the reading/writing aspect of the studying.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Caroline,

      I have heard the same results as well. I am one of the best chess players in Finland and when I was younger, I went to many kind of training and coaching. I remember that some coaches who had studied this subject more suggested to prepare for a chess game in the last evening rather than in the morning because it helps to memorize the moves better.

      I like myself audio-based language learning methods as well. I have only tested Pimsleur a little but my good friend has went through Pimsleur French and he really enjoyed it. I believe it’s a great way of learning a new language.


  2. Daniella

    Hi Rope,

    Great article, I’ve found it absorbing!

    I’ve read in a book that the mind needs to reset itself and that sleeping is one of the best solutions to this. But apart of sleeping, the mind also need to rest, and if it doesn’t, then, we lose our effectiveness. Many studies say that Jewish people that practice the Shabat, meaning don’t do anything from Friday to the end of Saturday, are much more productive for the rest of the week, which makes sense:)

    However, that was a very interesting talk:)

    Thank you very much for this excellent post!

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Daniella,

      thank you for sharing great points about the importance of the rest. I also believe that we humans need rest to reset our brains and to have more willpower again.

      I am a great believer of the Bible and God. The idea of keeping the Shabat is very fascinating. Maybe I should try it. Many times I am working 7 days a week but I notice that I may lose my productivity. However, creating an online business is so much fun that sometimes it’s easy to concentrate even though I would be a bit tired.


  3. Mat

    I have tried numerous times to learn a language, japanese via different methods. I have read books, bought DVDs and even a book/CD combination and none worked for me. Maybe its my lack of application!

    I have heard of this study and tried it myself (although not for long) and had nil improvement. I have also tried the learn—>sleep method and actually found it does help!

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Mat,

      one of the greatest characteristics of successful people is that they never give up if they really want something. So I highly recommend that you continue your Japanese studies if you want to learn it fluently. There are lots of helpful resources on this website. Have a look at Fluent in 3 Months, for example.

  4. jayveeborres

    Learning a language in our sleep is just a trick. I tried to memorize Japanese words and I sleep then I tried to recall the words and just I memorized it well. But during sleep there’s an audio to learn some words and I didn’t see any progress at all. I can’t learn language in my sleep.


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