Do Affirmations Work While Sleeping

do affirmations work while sleeping

Do affirmations work while sleeping and can you really ‘program’ your mind during the sleep state? While you certainly can create change with sleep affirmations and ‘subliminal audios’ the answer is far more complex.

Affirmations can work while sleeping but only if it is part of a bigger effort to create change. It serves more as a tool to reinforce ideas than to ‘install’ fresh ideas the subconscious mind is not familiar with.

Subliminal audio programs have become a massive business. Many of them make outrageous claims and it has hooked many people who are desperate for change.

Some initial studies in the 1980’s were actually sponsored by publishers of these audio programs and revealed some misleading results on the effectiveness of listening to these types of audio programs.

Scientific studies into these sorts of things are problematic in itself. How do you measure things like self confidence, happiness or self love?

My personal experience of doing this for more than 15 years is that there certainly is value in these audio recordings. It rarely is what it promises to be though.

It takes a lot of time and effort to create change or manifest anything into your life. ‘Affirmation tapes’ do work but they should never be your only strategy and they should never be seen as the holy grail.

Understanding Subliminal vs. Supraliminal Messages

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to subliminals – especially with self help and personal development recordings.

These products are often heavily marketed and sold to people who are particularly vulnerable.

Numerous studies have pointed to the ineffectiveness of many of these subliminal recordings that are designed to create change in people’s lives through passive listening and subliminal messaging.

There is actually a big misconception about subliminal messaging. Much of what is touted as ‘subliminals’ are actually not subliminal messages at all.

When you are shown an image or being fed an audio recording that is playing and your senses receive it without your full conscious awareness it is not subliminal.

If you are listening to affirmations while you are sleeping it is not subliminal. It is supraliminal.

Your subconscious mind is being influenced through audio or imaging that is in plain sight but your conscious awareness is not on it.

Your subconscious mind is being affected supraliminal.

A famous experiment has proven this. When German music played in a liquor store, the sale of German wine went up while the days when French music played the sale of french wine went up.

There’s been many more similar experiments and this is a tactic that advertisers use constantly.

Subliminal messages have been proven to have little to no effect other than the Placebo effect when it comes to personal improvement.

The theory behind subliminal messaging is to make suggestions to the subconscious mind that is below earshot and images are shown faster than the mind can perceive.

In other words, with subliminals, the conscious mind can not perceive the messaging and the theory is that it directs the message straight to the subconscious mind.

The military has funded numerous studies to test and investigate the effectiveness of this theory but none of the studies have found any concrete evidence that this actually does affect behaviour in any way.

So, do affirmations work while sleeping? Based on the research the answer is not really that straight forward.

Even with subliminal messages, the research has pointed to it being very effective if the person believes that it is effective. It’s the Placebo effect in action.

As far as supraliminal messages goes, it most certainly does work. Since your subconscious mind never sleeps, it can still hear every affirmation.

While it can ‘hear and listen’ while you are asleep this does not necessarily mean that it will accept the suggestions.

Suggestions that come through the channel of the conscious mind seem to be much more ‘authoritative’ and it explains why hypnosis is so much more effective than merely listening to affirmations while sleeping.

The Subconscious Mind, Affirmations and Sleep

The subconscious mind is truly fascinating and incredibly complex. Much of self improvement and personal development is aimed at changing the subconscious mind.


Because your subconscious mind is responsible for roughly 95% of your life. Your decisions, your actions, your emotions and your behaviour is mostly controlled by your subconscious mind.

The subconscious mind is also ‘programmed’. It learns – not by conscious training but by subconscious observation and experience.

This is why most of your beliefs are firmly rooted by the time you hit adolescence.

You ‘learn’ by observing authority figures in your life and the subconscious mind takes a huge amount of information and arranges it into meaningful ‘pockets of information’ that gets lumped together as a belief.

The subconscious mind learns through repetition and it is why we can use affirmations to great effect.

Affirmations is a process of consciously attempting to ‘program’ the subconscious mind.

There are two issues that are important to understand with affirmations. The first is that your subconscious mind is highly suggestable – especially when you are a child.

Children accept ‘truths’ very readily but as adults we can become very set in our ways. The second issue is exactly that and it is the fact that the subconscious mind is habit based.

It is designed to eliminate thinking. After the learning phase it does not question or try and calculate anymore. It relies on historic evidence to assign meaning and ‘fact’ to new events and circumstances.

Another very important fact about the subconscious mind is that it never sleeps. It is always awake – always working.

Research shows that we still hear and process everything even while we are sleeping. It is why any external threat will wake you up at night.

Given all these facts about the subconscious mind, do affirmations work while sleeping?

Everything seems to point to the fact that it does.

  • Your subconscious mind never sleeps and is always listening.
  • Your subconscious mind is wide open to suggestions – especially when the conscious mind is suppressed (during sleep).
  • Your subconscious mind ‘learns’ through repetition
  • Your subconscious mind takes everything literally

How Effective Can It Be To Listen To Affirmations?

The real question then is how effective is it really to just listen to affirmations while you sleep?

Can we just ‘reprogram’ our minds in every way while we are asleep.

A really interesting point that was made in one of the major studies into subliminals is that when the sleep programs are used as a supplement to other attempts to change it is much more effective.

What this means is that affirmations do work while sleeping, but they work even better if it is part of a bigger plan to create change in your life.

There needs to be a conscious effort as well and it should only be used as a supplemental exercise instead of pinning all your hopes on so-called sleep programming.

The conscious mind stands guard at the door. It is ultimately what ‘feeds’ the conscious mind and that is why hypnosis can be so powerful.

Hypnosis and Sleep

Sleep is part of life. While it is still a mystery to some extent we do know that sleep is an important part of testing both mind and body.

Sleep is a state where the conscious mind is at rest and ‘switched off’ while the subconscious mind stays alert and awake and continues to fulfill vital bodily functions.

When you are in a deep sleep you will have no recollection of anything that happens around you. While the subconscious still hears and smells, you will not have any conscious recollection.

Hypnosis on the other hand is not sleep. It is a trancelike state – a state of mind with an altered consciousness where you are not asleep but where the conscious faculties of the mind become suppressed.

During hypnosis the subconscious mind becomes very alert and very active and this is a state of mind with heightened suggestibility.

Hypnosis is widely used today and is considered to be very effective in creating changes at the subconscious level of mind.

Do affirmations work while sleeping to the extent that hypnosis can work?

The answer is no. During hypnosis the conscious mind is present and that is part of the reason why you are so open to suggestion and change while under hypnosis.

While the conscious mind often gets ruled out when it comes to creating change, the important fact is that it always stands guard at the door of your mind.

Suggestions that pass through the conscious en-route to the subconscious seem to be much more lasting and carry much more weight.

How and When Affirmations Work While Sleeping

The idea of learning a new language or learning quantum physics while you sleep has been proven to be completely false.

When it does work though is when you re-inforce facts and ideas that you already know but want to strengthen and reinforce.

This is how affirmations can work while sleeping.

If you are already doing affirmation work or working on changing or improving a specific area of your life then listening to affirmations that will help reinforce these ideas will most certainly help.

Just listening to affirmations work while sleeping and not doing anything else and not making any conscious efforts to change will most likely not have any affect in your life.


With a passion for spirituality, self discovery, and understanding this life, Neod spends his time musing about what is, what could be and what might come about. After writing for 20 years he's still growing, learning, exploring and sharing with love, joy and compassion.

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