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BBC 6 minute English-Sleeping for learning

BBC 6 minute English-Sleeping for learning

BBC 6 minute English-Sleeping for learning


Transcript of the podcast

Rob: Hello, I’m Rob and this is 6 Minute English and I’m joined this week by Finn. Hello Finn

Finn: Hello Rob

Rob: This week, we’re discussing sleep. New research has shown that not getting enough sleep – or sleep deprivation – can have a negative effect on our ability to learn. We’re going to talk about that today and explore some sleep-related language

Finn: So Rob, are you saying the more sleep I get, the cleverer I will be

Rob: Not exactly – but we could put that to the test now by seeing if you know the answer to this week’s question. This is about Randy Gardner, who holds the world record for the longest period of time without sleep. Do you know how long he stayed awake for? Was it

a) 5 days

b) 8 days

c) 11 days

Finn: Rob, I’m going to go for the ambitious c) 11 days without sleep

Rob: Well, I’ll let you know the answer at the end of the programme, if you can stay awake that long! Now, let’s talk more about this link between sleep and the ability to learn. Researchers from Boston College in the USA have found the lack of sleep is a significant – so important – factor in lowering the achievement of school pupils. The findings could be relevant to any of us who are trying to learn something

Finn: That’s true. The most interesting fact is that it is more of a problem in affluent countries – so wealthier countries such as the United States, England, France and Saudi Arabia

Rob: Students here are more affected by influences from their home life

Finn: You’re talking about computers and TVs in their bedrooms and using smartphones

Rob: Yes, they’re tempted by all this technology instead of just getting their heads down and having a good night’s sleep. The survey found 80% of 13 and 14-yearolds in the US were identified by their teachers as being affected by lack of sleep. The international average was 57%

Finn: Let’s hear from William Myers who is the Principal at South River High School in the United States. He says this is a challenge for teachers. What other word does he use to mean lacking in energy

William Myers, Principal at South River High School

If we didn’t make our classes more engaging, we would see a decline in our performance. We would see that school-wide, and in many of our classes, we would see students who were lethargic, sleepy, maybe heads down at the end of the day. So we have to put a lot of work into keeping them alert and keeping them excited about school

Rob: That’s quite a challenge then! He says classes have to be engaging, so interesting and exciting, to stop students getting sleepy and lacking in energy – the word he used was lethargic

Finn: Yes, this research looked at the link between the amount students sleep and their test results. Not surprisingly it found children with more sleep achieve higher test results in maths, science and reading. There is a lesson there for all of us – I think I’ll just shut my eyes, Rob, and have 40 winks

Rob: You mean a short, light sleep? Can you wait until the end of the programme please? Scientists believe the lack of sleep causes your brain to run on empty. It struggles to absorb and retain ideas

Finn: Actually, scientists say that there are more serious problems with students staying up late before they hit the sack – or got to bed – as we can hear from the BBC’s Jane O’Brien. Can you identify what they are

Jane O’Brien, BBC reporter

Here at the Children’s National Medical Centre, doctors are seeing more and more sleep-deprived kids, and it’s not just affecting their school work. It’s linked to obesity, mood swings and behaviour problems. In fact it’s putting their long-term health at risk

Finn: So, the lack of sleep can also lead to health problems such as obesity – that’s when someone is dangerously overweight – and to mood swings – that’s changes in how someone feels or behaves. So, what is the solution to all of this

Rob: Well the school day in some countries start later, allowing teenagers a bit of a lie in. And others have a break in the afternoon – like a siesta. But the real solution is for students to turn in – or go to bed – earlier

Finn: This research has also highlighted another problem. Because teachers are simplifying their lessons to take account of the tetchy – or grumpy – students, there’s concern that pupils who are getting enough sleep are losing out in these adjusted lessons. So everyone suffers. OK, well before I go for a lie down please could you let me know the answer to today’s question, Rob

Rob: Of course. Earlier I asked you about Randy Gardner, who holds the world record for the longest period of time without sleep. I asked you if you knew how long he stayed awake for

Finn: And I said c) 11 days, 11 long days

Rob: And you were right. He stayed awake for that incredible 11 days back in 1965. Randy was actually functioning quite well at the end of his research and he could still beat the scientist at pinball. Well, it’s almost time to go but before we do, Finn could you remind us of some of the words we’ve heard today

Finn: Yes. We heard sleep deprivation getting their heads down lethargic forty winks to run on empty hit the sack mood swings a siesta to turn in tetchy

Rob: Well, that’s all we have time for today. Time for a doze Finn

Both: I think so. Bye

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