Spanish For Insomnia

I’ve always had trouble sleeping. For my whole life, I’ve often had those insomniac nights when I can’t get to sleep, but feel sleepy enough to keep trying. Often my mind refuses to stop thinking about stuff, so I end up giving up at 5am and doing some programming or emailing. That’s at least been productive but tends to get me out of sync with my side of the planet.

But I think I’ve found a solution. Now whenever I can’t sleep I listen to a Pimsleurs Spanish course that I’ve ripped to ogg files. Because I find foreign languages very difficult, it actually distracts me and tires my mind out enough to sleep. When I stop hearing the words after an hour or so, I turn off my audio player and go to sleep. When I try that with a book, I just keep reading until the sun comes up.

As a pleasant side-effect, the Pimsleurs courses are also just easy enough that I actually learn from them. They move along very slowly, repeating lots of stuff, and saying every phrase possible by combining the vocabulary being covered at the time, and stressing how to say individual syllables. But, at least for me, it needs to be that slow, though I can imagine that language-talented people might find it patronising. Without needing to rewind (well, very rarely), I am actually learning Spanish. So it’s not much more than restaurant-level stuff at the moment (at lesson 26 of 30 half-hours, of the first part), but that’s enough to impress me.

I’m really surprised that I can learn so much without seeing it written down, though it probably helps that I’ve seen some written spanish already, so I have an idea of how words would look. I strongly believed that I couldn’t do it without the text, but I guess brains insist on working in old-fashioned ways.

3 thoughts on “Spanish For Insomnia

  1. Hehe I have had that pimsleur spanish course as well…. and now i´m here in barcelona, spening my time :=) It´s great, and I´m glad you found a good use for it as well ;-)

  2. I have exactly the same problem with sleeping sometimes, I just can’t switch my brain off. Too much interesting stuff in the world I guess!

    I’ll have to try the language courses idea. Currently I try and read “The World We’re In”, a very heavy book, and sometimes that works.

    Alternatively I sometimes try meditation techniques, like concentrating on breathing, and that can sometimes help too.

  3. I believe I have come across the theory that listening to language learning audios whilst going to sleep (or even while sleeping) can help you to “take in” a language subliminally. Murray, have you found that you are actually learning in this way?

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