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開學季必讀:為什么睡覺是學生的頭等大事

Why sleep should be every students priority
開學季必讀:為什么睡覺是學生的頭等大事

Jakke Tamminen has plenty of students who do that very studenty thing of staying up all night right before an exam, in the hope of stuffing in as much knowledge as they can. But “that’s the worst thing you can do”, the psychology lecturer at the UK’s Royal Holloway University warns them.

塔米寧(Jakke Tamminen)的很多學生都會做學生愛做的事,在考試前一天的晚上徹夜苦讀,希望把盡可能多的知識裝進腦袋里。但是這位英國皇家霍洛威學院的心理學講師警告他們,"沒有比這更糟糕的事情了。"

He should know. Tamminen is an expert on how sleep affects memory, specifically the recall needed for language. Sleep learning – another idea beloved of students, in the hope that, say, playing a language-learning recording during sleep would imprint itself into the brain subliminally and they’d wake up speaking Latin – is a myth.

塔米寧理應知道這一點。因為他是研究睡眠對記憶影響的專家,特別是記憶語言方面。睡覺學習法,也是學生們喜歡的一個想法,但他們希望只要在睡覺時播放語言學習錄音,語言就會自動進入大腦,一覺睡醒以后就會說拉丁語了。這個想法簡直是天方夜譚。

But sleep itself is essential for embedding knowledge in the brain, and the research of Tamminen and others shows us why that is.

但是睡眠確實對記憶知識非常重要。塔米寧以及其他人的實驗向我們揭示了原因。

In Tamminen’s ongoing research project, participants learn new vocabulary, then stay awake all night. Tamminen compares their memory of those words after a few nights, and then after a week.

在塔米寧現在所做的研究項目中,參與者學習新詞匯,然后整夜不睡。塔米寧在幾個晚上后比較參與者對這些詞匯的記憶情況,然后再比較一周后的記憶。

Even after several nights of recovery sleep, there is a substantial difference in how quickly they recall those words compared to the control group of participants who didn’t face sleep deprivation.

即使經過了幾個晚上的睡眠恢復,實驗組參與者回憶這些詞匯的速度還是比沒有被剝奪睡眠的對照組差了很多。

“Sleep is really a central part of learning,” he says. “Even though you’re not studying when you sleep, your brain is still studying. It’s almost like it’s working on your behalf. You can’t really get the full impact of the time you put into your studies unless you sleep.”

他說"睡眠是學習的重中之重,雖然你睡覺的時候沒在學習,但你的大腦還在學習,就好像是在代你學習。如果不好好睡覺,你花時間學習的成果不會得到充分體現。"

Inside the sleeper’s brain

睡眠者的大腦內部

We’re standing in Lab Room 1 of Tamminen’s sleep lab, a sparsely decorated room with a bed, a colourful rug, and framed paper butterflies. Above the bed is a small electroencephalography (EEG) machine and monitor to detect activity in each research participant’s brain, via electrodes placed on the head. These measure not only activity in different regions of the brain (frontal, temporal, and parietal), depending on their placement on the head, but also muscle tone (through an electrode on the chin) and eye movement (through an electrode next to each eye).

我們站在塔米寧睡眠實驗室的1號房間里,房間裝修簡單,僅一張床,一塊彩色地毯,還有一些裱框的紙蝴蝶。床的上方是一個小的腦電儀和監視器,通過電極連接在參與與者的腦部,用來監測他們的大腦活動。通過不同位置的電極能測量大腦不同區域的活動(額葉,顳葉和頂葉),下顎處的電極還能測量肌肉張力,每只眼睛附近的電極能測量眼動。

Down the hallway is the control room, where researchers can see in real time which parts of each volunteer’s brain are being activated, for how long, and to what extent. It’s easy to tell when a volunteer is in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase, based on the activity in the E1 and E2 (eye 1 and eye 2) graphs.

走廊盡頭是控制室,研究者能實時看到志愿參與者大腦里哪部分被激活,激活多長時間,以及激活到什么程度。基于眼1和眼2的圖表,很容易看出志愿者何時處于快速眼動(REM)階段。

But more critical to Tamminen’s current research – and to sleep’s role in language development more generally – is a non-REM phase of deep sleep known as slow-wave sleep (SWS). SWS is important for forming and retaining memories, whether of vocabulary, grammar, or other knowledge. The interaction of different parts of the brain is key here. During SWS, the hippocampus, which is good at quick learning, is in constant communication with the neocortex, to consolidate it for long term recall. So the hippocampus might initially encode a new word learned earlier that day, but to truly consolidate that knowledge – spotting patterns and finding connections with other ideas that allow for creative problem-solving – the neocortical system needs to get involved.

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但是對塔米寧當前研究以及睡眠在語言學習中的作用,最關鍵的是對叫做慢波睡眠(SWS)的深度睡眠的研究。所謂慢波睡眠即是沒有眼動的睡眠階段。慢波睡眠對記憶的形成及保持十分重要,不管是詞匯,語法還是其他知識都是如此。在此階段,關鍵是大腦間不同部位的相互作用。在慢波睡眠階段,擅長快速學習的海馬體一直和新皮質交流,將其鞏固為長時記憶。因此可能一開始是海馬體處理當天較早學到的新詞匯,但是要想鞏固知識,即發現這些新知識的模式,再找出這個新知識模式與其他想法之間的關聯,從而能創造性地解決問題,則需要新皮質系統參與進來。

This information expressway between the hippocampus and the neocortex is populated by sleep spindles – spikes in brain activity that are no more than three seconds long.

海馬體和新皮質間的信息高速通道充滿了睡眠紡錘波( sleep spindles),這是是一種不超過三秒的大腦震蕩活動。

“Sleep spindles are somehow associated with linking new information with existing information,” Tamminen says. And the data from his research participants suggests that people with more sleep spindles have more consolidation of the words they have learned. (Read more about how you can learn in your sleep).

塔米寧說,"睡眠紡錘波一定程度上與新信息和已有信息的連接有關。"從測試的數據來看,睡眠紡錘波越多,能夠鞏固的已學詞匯就越多。(閱讀更多關于如何能在睡覺時學習)

While Tamminen focuses on slow-wave sleep, there’s a theory that REM sleep plays a role in language development too, through the dreaming that happens during this part of the sleep cycle. Research at the sleep and dreams lab at Canada’s University of Ottawa found that the brains of undergraduates dreaming in French were essentially able to make new connections with the language they were learning.

塔米寧專注于慢波睡眠時,有理論表明快速眼動睡眠同樣有利于語言學習,這是通過發生在該睡眠循環時的做夢這一現象。加拿大渥太華大學睡眠與做夢實驗室的研究表明,用法語做夢的本科生基本能夠與他們正在學習的法語建立新的聯系。

Dreams, after all, are more than simply a replay of what happens during the day. Research has suggested that the regions of the brain that manage logic (the frontal lobe) and emotion (the amygdala) interact differently during dreams, allowing for these imaginative new connections in the language learner. And students intensively studying the second language had more REM sleep. This gave them more time to integrate what they were learning while they slept – and better results during the day.

畢竟,做夢并不是簡單重復白天發生的事情。研究表明大腦控制邏輯的區域(額葉腦)與控制情緒的區域(杏仁核)在做夢時相互作用不一樣,這使得語言學習者能夠建立充滿想象力的新聯系。深入學習第二外語的學生有更多的快速眼動睡眠,讓他們在睡覺時有更多時間整合正在學習的東西,因此白天的學習成果會更好。

Nightly rhythms

每晚節拍

There’s a genetic component to how many sleep spindles we have. There’s also a genetic basis to our internal clocks, which tell us when it’s time to go to sleep and wake up. And adhering to these hard-wired cycles is necessary to reaching our peak cognitive performance.

睡眠紡錘波的數量多少有遺傳因素的作用。至于告訴我們幾點睡覺,幾點起床的生物鐘也是有遺傳基礎的。因此想要達到最好的認知表現,我們需要遵循這些由我們身體硬件決定了的循環周期。

Few people know more about this subject than Michael W Young, who in 2017 was awarded a joint Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine for his work on clock genes with two co-researchers. Young explains that for optimal functioning – whether at school, work, or other areas of life – “what you want to do is to try to recreate a rhythmic environment”.

關于這一話題,沒有人比邁克爾‧揚(Michael W Young)知道的更多。揚2017年因其與其他兩位研究者所做的有關時鐘基因(clock gene)的研究共同獲得了諾貝爾生理學或醫學獎,揚解釋了時鐘基因的功能,不管是上班、上學還是生活的其他方面,"你想做的就是創造合拍的環境。"

For a person whose lifestyle, environment, or inherited sleep disorder leads to distorted sleep patterns, “a cheap first-line response” could be using blackout curtains at night or bright lights during the day to mimic natural light/dark cycles as much as possible.

如果一個人因為生活方式,環境或遺傳原因導致睡眠紊亂,最便宜有效的方式就是晚上用遮光簾或者白天用明亮的燈光盡可能的模仿自然的晝夜循環。

Power naps

小睡充電

The circadian rhythm’s role in adult learning is unquestionable, but its importance may be particularly pronounced in childhood.

晝夜節律(circadian rhythm)對成年人學習的重要性毋庸置疑,但是其重要性可能在童年時期更為明顯。

Children have more slow-wave sleep than adults – which may be one factor explaining how quickly kids learn, in both language and other areas. The child sleep lab at Germany’s University of Tuebingen investigates the role of sleep in consolidating children’s memory. Monitoring what happens in children’s brains during sleep, and how much information they retain before and after sleep, shows that sleep helps with accessing implicit knowledge (procedural memory) and making it explicit (declarative memory).

兒童的慢波睡眠比成年人更多,這可能也是兒童學習語言和其他知識更快的原因之一。德國蒂賓根大學的兒童睡眠實驗室研究了睡眠對鞏固兒童記憶的作用。他們監測兒童睡眠時大腦內的活動,以及睡覺前后記住了多少信息,研究結果表明睡眠有助于訪問內隱記憶(程序記憶)并將其處理成外顯知識(陳述記憶)。

Adults can also call upon this kind of information learned during the day. But as researcher Katharina Zinke explains, “sleep is doing that in a more efficient way in children".

成年人也能在睡眠中處理白天學習到的這類信息。但是研究員津凱(Katharina Zinke)解釋道,"兒童睡眠處理效率更高。"

“The effects are stronger in early childhood because the brain is developing,” says Dominique Petit, the coordinator of the Canadian Sleep and Circadian Network, who has also explored the circadian rhythm in children. In practical terms, this means that “children need to sleep during the day to remember everything that they have to learn".

珀蒂(Dominique Petit)是加拿大睡眠與晝夜節律網絡的協調員,并研究兒童晝夜節律。她說,"這種影響在年齡小的兒童身上比較明顯,因為大腦正在發育。"此現象的實際意義即是,"兒童需要在白天睡覺來記住要學的東西"。

"Daytime naps in young children have been shown to be really important for vocabulary growth, generalisation of the meaning of words and abstraction in language learning," she says. "Sleep continues to be important for memory and learning throughout the lifetime, though.”

她說,"小孩白天小睡對語言學習中擴充詞匯、歸納詞義以及抽象化十分重要。其實睡眠在一生當中都對記憶和學習很重要。"

Not only does sleep help with accessing this information, it also changes the way this information is accessed. This makes brains more flexible at retrieving information (or able to access it in more ways). But it also makes them better at extracting the most significant parts of it.

睡眠不僅有助于獲取信息,而且還能改變獲取信息的方式,使大腦檢索信息更為靈活(或者獲取方式更多),并有助于提取信息最重要的成分。

“It’s actually an active process of strengthening and changing the memory trace,” Zinke says. “Memory gets transferred in a way that the most important information (the gist) is remembered.”

津凱說,"其實是增強及改變記憶痕跡的過程,記憶在這個過程發生了改變,讓人記住的是最重要的信息,即信息的要領。"

Clearly, for children as well as adults, prolonged sleep isn’t a sign of laziness in a language learner. It’s critical for our brains’ connections and our bodies’ rhythms.

顯然,不管是兒童還是成年人,對語言學習者來說,睡久一點兒并不是懶惰,睡得好對大腦溝通聯系和身體節律都很重要。

So, following your next intense Duolingo session, it’s a good idea to sleep on it. You may be surprised the next morning by how much you’ve absorbed.

所以,下次上完高強度的多鄰國(Duolingo)課程之后,最好睡一覺。第二天醒來之后,你可能會驚喜地發現竟然學會了這么多東西。

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