BBC 6 minute English-Sleepy in South Korea

BBC 6 minute English-Sleepy in South Korea

BBC 6 minute English-Sleepy in South Korea


Transcript of the podcast

Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript

.Sam: Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Sam

.Neil: And I’m Neil

Sam: Sleep – we all need it – some more than others. I can usually get by with around seven hours a night but I do like to have a nap – a short sleep – in the afternoon, when I’m not working of course. How about you, Neil

Neil: I’m always tired and as soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m out like a light – meaning I go to sleep very quickly

Sam: Well, Neil, you might not survive in South Korea then. Apparently, it’s one of the most stressed and tired nations on earth – a place where people work and study longer hours and get less sleep than anywhere else. We’ll find out more later and teach some sleep-related vocabulary

!Neil: But before we do, you need to give me a question to keep me awake and alert

Sam: Of course I do, and here it is. In the 1960s, American man, Randy Gardner, set the world record for staying awake for the longest period. Do you know what that time was? Was it a) 64 hours b) 164 hours, or ?c) 264 hours

!Neil: All sound impossible but I’ll guess a) 64 hours – that’s nearly 3 days

Sam: Oh, well. I’ll give you the answer later in the programme – assuming you don’t doze off! But let’s talk more about sleep now. As I mentioned, we all need it to help our mind and body rest and relax. And going without sleep – or sleeplessness – is bad for our health

Neil: Many things can stop us sleeping and some of them are pressure, anxiety and stress caused by your job. And in South Korea research has shown it’s become increasingly difficult to switch off – stop thinking about work and relax. South Koreans sleep fewer hours and have higher rates of depression and suicide than almost anywhere else

Sam: Se-Woong Koo has been reporting on this for the BBC World Service Documentary podcast. He met one worker who explained why she never got time to relax

Se-Woong Koo, BBC reporter

Separating work and rest time has been a recurring issue for Ji-an – in her last job her office hours were long. Like most Korean firms, her employer didn’t think about any boundaries. They encroached on almost all her time

Korean office worker

They told me ‘you need to be contactable 24/7’ – there will always be someone from work reaching out to me, like needing to get something done right now. Even just thinking about it, I get really agitated

Sam: So, that stressed out worker got agitated just thinking about the situation – she got worried or upset. That’s because office hours in South Korea are long and some employers expect their workers to be contactable all the time

Neil: Yes, there are no boundaries – so no limits or rules about when employers can contact their employees. Therefore, as this employee said, work encroached – it gradually took over – her leisure time. Stress like this can lead to insomnia – a condition where you are unable to sleep

Sam: The BBC Discovery podcast goes on to explain that offering a cure for this sleeplessness has become big business. There are sleep clinics where doctors assess people overnight, and sleep cafes that offer places to nap in the middle of the working day

Neil: One other issue in South Korea that’s affecting sleep is the ‘bali bali’ culture, meaning ‘quickly, quickly’ or ‘hurry, hurry’. People are constantly in a rush

Sam: Doctor Lee spoke to the World Service’s Discovery podcast about the effects of this and how even trying to take medication to help sleep, has its problems

Dr Lee

People take like, ten or twenty pills per one night, and because they cannot fall asleep even with the medication, they drink alcohol on top of that, and they experience side-effects of the medication. People can sleepwalk, and go to the refrigerator, eat a lot of things unconsciously – uncooked food, and they don’t remember next day. There were cases of car accidents in the centre of Seoul which has been sleepwalking patients

Neil: So, some people are taking lots of pills to help them sleep but they’re not working so they’re drinking alcohol as well. This leads to side-effects – unpleasant and unexpected results from the medication

.Sam: It seems, one of these side-effects is sleepwalking – moving around and doing things while still asleep

.Neil: Well, if sleeping pills aren’t working, there’s always meditation – or working less

.Sam: At least South Koreans are getting some sleep, unlike Randy Gardner who I asked you about earlier

Neil: Yes, he holds the record for staying awake the longest. And I thought he stayed awake for 64 hours. Was I right

Sam: No, Neil. Not long enough. Randy Gardner stayed awake for an incredible 264.4 hours – that’s 11 days and 25 minutes – in January 1964

.Neil: That’s one record I really don’t want to beat

Sam: Well, before you nod off Neil, let’s recap some of the vocabulary we’ve been discussing, including go out like a light, which means you go to sleep very quickly

.Neil: When you switch off you stop concentrating on one thing and start thinking about something else

.Sam: A lack of sleep or rest can make you agitated – you get worried or upset

.Neil: Encroach means gradually take over

.Sam: When you take medication and it gives you an unpleasant and unexpected result, we call these side-effects

.Neil: And sleepwalking describes moving around and doing things while still asleep

!Sam: That’s our six minutes up. Goodbye and sweet dreams

!Neil: Goodbye

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