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Sleep Improves Vocabulary

Nina NordNina Nord
Bedtime story

When parents read stories to their children before bed, this helps them greatly expand their vocabulary, claim French psychologists.

Scientists have found that a good night's sleep plays a key role in the brain's ability to remember and use new words, which have been learned throughout the day.


People who were offered to learn a group of words, whose meanings they did not know, did a much better job when someone read them to them before bed. Those who tried to learn them throughout the day did not have the same success.

It is not clear why, but everything learned right before bed is absorbed best when compared to anything learned throughout any other part of the day. This is good news for night owls and bad for those who don't like going to bed late.

Scientists initiated their study because the vocabulary of present day people is exceptionally poor, especially that of grade school and college students.


The younger generation communicates mainly using slang and memes from TV shows. Scientists hope that the new find gives rise to an increase in the percentage of parents who read bedtime stories to their kids instead of leaving them in front of the TV.

Experts advise parents to read stories in a different language to their children because this way they will most easily remember the new words from the foreign vocabulary.

Sleep helps the brain remember the new words using the same process by which the brain "saves" the words learned during the day. Sleep helps transfer the new words from short-term memory to long-term memory.

By learning words the regular way, without using sleep, the hippocampus, which formulates new memories, is only activated for a brief time. The neocortex, which is responsible for recreating thoughts in a person, works actively after sleep.

It is believed that the process of remembering new words happens during slow-wave sleep, which occurs at the end of the sleep cycle. Learning new vocabulary consists of 4 main habits.

These are the ability to read, write, speak and listen. Thus, when reading a story to their children before bed, parents not only expand their vocabulary but also spend extra time with them, which is very important for the little ones.