There have been many scientific advances since the days of the ancients. We do not forsake our homes and sleep in temples where priests whisper the right thoughts into our ears.
Today, through the use of highly developed audio equipment, pre-recorded tapes and recordings and automatic repeating devices, we ourselves can record the message we require.
In 1929 Max Sherover, one of the pioneers in sleep-learning, wrote a science-fiction story called "Cerebro-phone, Inc."
Here was an apparently fanciful excursion into the realm of sleep-education. Later, Sherover and a San Francisco engineer, Elmer Brown, produced the first sleep learning device, using a combination of record player, electric clock, and under-the-pillow-speaker.
They foresaw use of their invention in the fields of language teaching, treatment of emotional upsets, overcoming of speech defects, and (shades of Aldous Huxley) principle indoctrination.
In the early 1940's, L. Leshan reported in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology that he found in his tests with this method that 40% of a group of fingernail biters became convinced by the message in the night that their fingernails tasted bitter, and gave up the habit, after being exposed to the message six times a night for fifty-four nights. In the same experiment a control group kept right on biting.
In the original testing of Sherover's machine, Charles R. Elliot of the University of North Carolina used fifteen unrelated three letter words on his sleeping subjects: boy, egg, say, art, run, not, sir, leg, bag, row, ice, out, age, box and eat.
He verified that his subjects were asleep by an electroencephalograph, which records brain waves. (Brain waves are different during sleep and wakeful-ness) The next day, this group, and a control group who had not heard the words in their sleep were asked to memorize the list of words.
The first group learned the list 83% faster than the group which had not been exposed to the words in their sleep. Elliot said he thought sleep-teaching was similar to reteaching something the person has temporarily forgotten.
Sherover reported that his students were learning languages 25% to 30% faster than students normally learn while awake.
In 1948 Sherover prophesied that the device could be used to teach such necessary information as multiplication tables, chemical formulae, the Morse Code, logarithms, speeches, vocabularies and languages. He was indeed conservative in his forecasts.
It was in 1949 that Ramon Vinay's feat in sleep-learning a complete opera in accentless Italian became celebrated in musical circles.
A 1952 newspaper report (New York Times, July 6th) informs us that the Morse Code was taught to sleeping cadets.
In 1952 the Journal of Experimental Psychology reported tests which had been conducted at George Washington University. Students were taught Chinese during sleep, between two-thirty and three A.M.
The students were divided into three groups: the first group heard the Chinese words, but with mismatched English words; the second group heard the Chinese words and their English equivalents; the third group heard Strauss waltzes.
The first group required 11.1 repetitions; the second group mastered them in only 5.6 repetitions, and the third group needed 17.7 repetitions (so far as we know this group was not tested on their knowledge of Strauss waltzes).
An interesting side effect was the report of a girl who dreamed she was on a street in China; this was assumed to be the influence of the Chinese words she heard in her sleep.
Naturally, this cannot be proved; the dream could have been caused by other associations. But it does invite speculations as to the degree of unconscious visual reinforcement present in sleep-learning.
Bruno Furst, the memory expert, stated that good memory is based on concentration and association, grouping of similar facts together, and then linking them by easy to remember mental pictures.
The last point — easy to remember mental pictures — raises the question: could dreams be supplying this aspect of remembering for the material heard during sleep?
Sleep-learning advocates explain that sleep-tapes achieve involuntary duplication or repetition of a desired specific mental picture, with cumulative and powerful effects.
Devices employ two techniques: one utilizes a tape machine; the other employs a record player or phonograph. In the case of the latter, the record player should have all four speeds, 78, 45, 33/2 and 16 RPM—because the available records come in these different speeds.
The record player must also be able to repeat the records over and over automatically; if it is the type record changer that automatically shuts itself off, the shut off lever must be taped down.
Tape machines are preferred to record players. The magnetic tape equipment of today allows the student to record and play back his study material immediately on the same instrument. Tape allows the absolute minimum of undesirable noise.
Whereas a record can become worn and scratchy, the tape has an unlimited noise-free life. Anything available on records is easily transferred to tape, and, since tape operates on a principle of organization and reorganization of magnetic particles on the tape ribbon, when there is no further need for the study material presently recorded, tape can be easily erased by recording over the original material.
An endless tape cartridge of varying time lengths, depending on the study time of the material to be learned, allows continuous repetition of the material.
These nocturnal messages are heard through a "pillow speaker" which rests under the pillow and, by controlling the volume, will repeat the message for your ears only. For those who toss in bed, or who are slightly hard of hearing, a speaker of the bone conduction type is also available, which operates as an under the pillow speaker, but sets up audible vibrations that will be carried to your ears at any reasonable distance from the speaker.
Any model of tape recorder may be used. However, an organization of sleep-learning researchers is preparing equipment which has been designed specifically the recording is not as it should be, simply record over the unwanted portion, for sleep-learning.
The automatic electric timer is essential to sleep-learning, for it sets the tape machine to switch on and off automatically while the learner sleeps.
Without it, modern sleep-learning would be impossible, for the student would be required to be awake to switch the mechanism on and off. The timers simply plug into a wall outlet, and the recorder is plugged into the timer.
Beginners are reminded to hold the microphone about ten inches from the mouth and to speak in a normal, assured, positive voice when recording. It is advised that the recording level be monitored or checked immediately to determine the clarity.
One distinct advantage of tape is the lack of added expense for errors.
The advertising industry must be thanked for the development of the endless tape cartridge. These were originally devised to repeat sales messages over and over. Cartridges offering a Mobius loop are coated on both sides and offer twice the recording and playback time.
For sleep-learning it has been found that the speed of 17/8 IPS (inches per second) is the most practical. This speed allows more than adequate fidelity for voice, and its slowness enables a great deal more study material to be placed on the tape.
When determining the correct pillow or bone conduction speaker to use with the available recorder, two things must be emphasized: the insertion of the speaker plug must shut off the recorder's speaker, otherwise both speakers will play, and the resultant effect will negate the required effect; and, of equal importance—the components used with the recorder must be carefully matched.
A mismatching of pillow speaker and recorder will cause distortion, and distortion has been found to be a disturbance which might create a barrier against sleep learning.
The sleep-learning tape machine can be equipped with additional speakers, simply by installing a "Y" jack into the tape output. These are available in most local radio service stores.
Relaxation affirmations can either be recorded on a separate tape, or on the same tape as the study material. After some practice in sleep-study, when the student is aware of his psychological acceptance of the recorded messages, it will not be necessary to use the relaxation affirmations; the information itself will beat a direct path to the subconscious.
Many companies offer both phonograph and tape equipment with all necessary accessories for the sleep-learner. They also have available numerous pre-recorded tapes and records of educational and therapeutic material.
Three steps are advised in some record courses. The material designed for the conscious mind is on one side of the record, and the material for the subconscious is on the other side.
First the visual approach is employed when the subject reads the text. Next the audio approach while conscious (awake). The material on the conscious side is much like the text on the conscious side of the recording.
The third step is the subconscious approach— side two of the recording, prepared with emotional appeal to the subconscious. The subject matter is similar to that on side one, but different words and symbols, timing, expressions and reasoning are used, aimed not at the intellect, but at the emotions.
The particular course described above has ten lessons, designed for deep relaxation; for physical well-being—aimed at psychosomatic illnesses; for memory power in the sense of training the mind to retain and recall information automatically; for will power and ultimately leadership and success; and on through magnetic personality, self-confidence, physical vitality, sleep therapy (in the sense of overcoming insomnia and the need for drugs and pills), financial success (give the inner mind proven formulas for success, wealth and power), and finally, self-mastery, in which the inner mind is trained to overcome destructive thoughts, forces and habits.
Among other recordings are those designed to overcome unsatisfactory marital relationships, to develop power (over oneself and others), weight reduction through training the listener to desire thinning foods, and music therapy to release hypertension.
Children's courses—the home approach to child psychology—are offered in the form of a children's story aimed at overcoming undesirable habits and traits. The text on these recordings is read by the parents, and the recordings for the children are played both awake and asleep.
It has been found that children do not require conditioning; they have not yet been subjected to the great quantity of negative thought we constantly receive throughout our lives. Nevertheless, the child should become used to the records before they are used at night.
The sleep learner can make his own therapy tapes. If he does, he is advised to keep his sentences short and to the point, positive and optimistic; to use strong action verbs, avoiding too many adjectives and terminology that would be difficult to understand, or medical or scientific jargon. He must believe in himself and his message, must accept the idea and transform the idea into reality, both of which effects are achieved by the subconscious.
A strong, commanding voice, calm and unhesitant, a voice that does not falter but reflects "dynamic certainty" is best. He should be sure of proper microphone level and use an automatic continuous tape repeating mechanism.
Among pre-recorded tapes which are offered is one called "Hypnotic Rain Tape." This is a sound effect recording containing the actual sound of falling rain (laboratory controlled) which is designed to aid in relaxation induction, hypnotic trance induction and self-hypnosis.
It is recommended for use by itself or as a background for sleep-learning or sleep-therapy material, as well as to overcome insomnia and the barrier to sleep learning.
There are miscellaneous offerings with the stated end result being: a brighter philosophy; a conviction that you can sing—or sell—or speak—the first of which implies that sight reading and voice training can be taught by audio-visual affirmations; creative inspiration and peace of mind through affirmations that will induce positive thinking, friendship, hope, forgiveness, peace, poise and will power.
You can sharpen your bridge game, increase shorthand speed, improve your English and gain poise and self-confidence at the same time, simplify the learning of typing, and acquire a knowledge of any foreign language with the correct pronunciation.
You can dip into the secrets of meditation and relaxation according to yoga, and increase your creative facilities through an understanding of the power of the universe, the Infinite Intelligence, and the power of thought.
Your child can be saved the trouble of doing these things in the future, for the courses are available (reportedly proven in field tests for three or four years) for producing self-confidence, magnetic personality, memory power, as well as instilling such good habits as an interest in learning, obedience to elders, sharing and unselfishness, cleanliness, neatness and good manners, along with eliminating such bad habits as bed wetting, nail biting, poor eating, stealing, cheating and lying.
Fears and bad dreams can be overcome . . . and all while the child is asleep. Of course, the accomplishment of all these things by the children could easily eliminate the need of parents using their own records for inducing relaxation, bright philosophies, physical vitality, and a positive outlook on life.
From the listing of literature available on recorded material, it is now possible to go to sleep and catch up on your reading at the same time. It is not indicated that these "talking books" be used in sleep learning (unless, of course, the student so desires), and certainly the repeating mechanism would not be a desirable adjunct to reading a novel.
But perhaps, somewhere, sometime, there will be a sleep-student who must memorize a novel. After all, who would have thought of sleep-teaching a parakeet?