How and why children learn while they sleep


Sleep, an external state of calm, is comparable to the night and is part of our existence, just like the night sky itself. Rather, the ancient Greeks counted sleep to the so-called chthonic gods, who both the underworld with its deadly shadows and thus death represent as well as life itself with its life-giving fertility.

Sleep is thus settled between the worlds and is a product of the night and, as the son of that night, is called Nyx, Hypnos. According to Ovid, Hypnos lives in a cave in the underworld, through which the Lethe river, i.e. forgetfulness, flows.

The fact that we learn in sleep, so to speak, is due to the physiology of our nervous system, which is dependent on plasticity. This principle carries the process of forgetting as well as memory in its structure as a key. In this respect, the poet and novelist Heine is right: Sleep is the most delicious invention.

The basic principle of sleep is physical recovery in order to be able to process the impressions of the previous day in silence. Every parent should be aware that this is essential for young children, especially in babies and children, and adequate precautions should be taken with comfortable cots.

Mental fitness and the difference between young and old!

People tend to learn at any age. However, there are physiological differences that are the main reason why the length of sleep decreases with age. The brain cells and above all the connections between these cells, which act as synapses and increase the coding and storage capacity of the brain, are only produced in excess up to the age of 12 years. Then the synapse formation is reduced and human learning and forgetting get by with what is physiologically available.

Interestingly, it is precisely the brain area that is entrusted with attention control, namely the prefrontal cortex, that is formed as the last brain region and requires most of the time for its development. Conversely, however, in old age this is probably the region of the brain that loses substance the fastest. This means that the entire brain mass shrinks as the density of the myelin sheathed nerve fibers decreases. At the same time, there is an increase in the formation of neurofibrils, which are known to cause nerve cells to clump together or to die, resulting in senile dementia.

How important sleep is to the toddler!

How important sleep is for a toddler and as such for almost every other living being can be analyzed in a sleep laboratory by means of deprivation experiments. Translated, deprivation can also mean sleep deprivation, which examines the connections between healthy and pathogenic sleep.

The fact is, the importance of healthy sleep for young children should not be underestimated, as lack of sleep can lead to serious psychological impairments. In addition to overstimulation and lack of exercise, there should be complete darkness during the night. Rather, modern display devices of today emit blue light, which can have a negative effect on sleep. The so-called internal clock (circadian rhythm), which is hormonally linked to the sleep hormone melatonin, is responsible for this. The hormone level of melatonin is lowered in daylight and increased in the dark, so that the body slowly becomes tired depending on the dark.


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