H.E.L.P. for Kids 2004-2005
1. Sleep, Nutrition and Exercise make up the Triad for maintaining overall health and
2. Sleep is an active process. There are different stages to the sleep cycle, which alternates
between REM and non-REM sleep. It is regulated by a Biological Clock in our brain that
runs on a 24-hour cycle.
3. Most teenagers need about 8-10 hours of sleep to stay alert during the day. We
accumulate “sleep debt” when we do not get enough sleep.
4. Good sleep habits include adequate amount of sleep every night and keeping a regular
5. Sleep disorders include sleep apnea and narcolepsy.
Sleep cycle – REM and non-REM alternating
Brain wave patterns of different stages of sleep
Student Handout packet
Take home messages & glossary
Helpful Hints for Good Sleep Habits
Day Time Sleepy Test
There are three basic things that are necessary for us to maintain good health - Nutrition,
Exercise, and Sleep – the Triad. We have learned about Nutrition and Exercise. Today, we will
How much of our lives do you think we spend sleeping? (Let kids answer). We spend
approximately one third of our life sleeping. It shows that sleep must be very important to our
health and well-being.
Discussion: Spend a few minutes to talk about the sleep habits of the students, i.e., how many
hours they sleep each night on the average, how regular it is from day to day.
Teaching Message 1: Sleep, Nutrition, and Exercise, make up the Triad for maintaining
our overall health and optimal performance.
Ask students for their best guesses to why we sleep, and why the body is designed with such a
large sleep need. Try to focus this “why” discussion on what the body is doing (rest & repair).
All of us know for sure that we need sleep, though we do not understand completely why.
One of the reasons is that we sleep to allow our body time to rest and repair itself from the
activities during the day. For instance, we use our muscles a great deal during the day. During
sleep, most of our muscles relax and rest. When we are awake, our senses (hearing, seeing,
smelling, etc.) are continuously stimulated by our environment such as noises, among others.
When we sleep, we take a rest from such stimulations to rejuvenate.
New data show that sleep reinforces what we learn in the daytime. This was shown by
comparing 2 groups of people, one with a good night’s sleep and the other with only a few hours
of sleep. The former was shown to retain better the information learned during the day than the
Teaching Message 2: Sleep is an active process. There are different stages to the sleep
cycle, which alternates between REM and non-REM sleep. It is regulated by a Biological
Clock in our brain that runs on a 24-hour cycle.
While some parts of our body slow down during sleep, such as muscle movements, breathing,
heart rate, other parts of our body are as busy as when we are awake. Our brain activity is an
example. Brain activity can be measured by their electrical activity as brain waves. We go
through different phases during our sleep cycle as expressed by different brain wave patterns.
Show Figure - Brain waves during sleep from direct measurement of brain activity.
REM phase: There is an interesting phase when the brain activity is similar to when we are
awake and sometimes even more active. If you look at someone sleeping, at different times you
might be able to see their eyes shifting quickly back and forth under the eyelids though their eyes
are closed. It is called the REM sleep, REM for Rapid Eye Movement. This is when the
majority of our dreams take place! Our brain is reacting to the world we are thinking about, as
well as creating it (which is why dreams sometimes can be “strange.”).
Non-REM sleep: It goes through different stages 1-4 when deep sleep occurs.
The sleep cycle through the night alternates between REM and non-REM sleep (Figure), ending
often in REM sleep when we wake up spontaneously.
Biological Clock: The biological process of sleep is a constant ongoing battle between the
desire to fall asleep and the need to stay awake. The important controlling factor in sleep is the
biological clock in the brain. This clock operates on 24hr cycles. It determines when we are
most alert and when we feel sleepy. It can be re-set.
All animals have different biological clocks. The rat’s biological clock prompts him to go to
sleep during the day and be active during the night. A cat’s biological clock prompts it to take
many naps during the day and night instead of one long period of sleep.
Discussion: Have students describe when they feel most alert and most sleepy during the day.
Teaching Message 3: Most teenagers need 8-10 hours every night to stay alert during the
day. We accumulate “sleep debt” when we do not get enough sleep.
How many hours of sleep are needed every night to keep us alert and function during the day
vary from individual to individual. On the average, most teenagers need around 9 hours of sleep
each night. How many hours do you usually get? Do you think you’re getting enough sleep?
To keep a Sleep Journal may help you figure out how much sleep you need and should have.
What happens if we do NOT get enough sleep! We accumulate Sleep Debt. The concept of
sleep debt is important because it builds up if we do not fulfill our sleep need. The only way to
“pay off” our sleep debt is to make it up by sleeping extra hours. It’s like borrowing from a bank
because the only way to get out of debt is to pay it back.
How do you know that you have sleep debt? Do you fall asleep in a dark warm room during the
day? Do you fall asleep trying to study? Do you fall asleep in front of the TV set? In other
words, you fall asleep during the day when you are supposed to be awake. The more you do so,
the more sleep debt you have.
What happens if we habitually do not get enough sleep? Allude to the disasters in the video.
Essentially, without sleep, we become so sleepy that we cannot function properly.
Sleep deprivation could affect many things we do in life, including the following:
1. Alertness and ability to maintain focus and attention
2. Learning, memory, and creativity
4. Energy and motivation
5. Control, coordination, and impulsiveness
6. Resistance to infections
For example, there are experiments where subjects were deprived of their sleep by only sleeping
4hrs/night for a number of days that they did not notice when a light as bright as a camera’s
flashed was shown directly into their eye! The experimenter asked the subject if they saw the
light, but they denied that there had even been a light. That’s just one example of how “bad”
sleep deprivation can be. Statistics show that falling asleep at the wheel while driving causes as
many accidents as drunk driving!
Fulfilling our sleep need by eliminating our sleep debt will reap good results - in school, playing
a sport, or just in our everyday life.
Teaching Message 5: Good sleep includes not only adequate amount of sleep every night
but also regularity to keep our biological clock in sync.
To get maximum benefit from sleep, we need not only adequate amount of sleep but also a
regular schedule to keep our biological clock in sync.
HANDOUT and OVERHEAD: There are some helpful hints to help us acquire good sleep
Teaching Message 4: Sleep disorders include sleep apnea and narcolepsy.
Many problems can arise if the body’s “sleep biology” is messed up. We will talk about two of
the more interesting sleep disorders – sleep apnea and narcolepsy.
Sleep apnea. How many of you are snorers? Do Mom and Dad snore really loudly? Do you or
your parents ever complain of feeling sleepy during the day? This could be a sleep disorder
called obstructive sleep apnea. Two of its most common symptoms are loud snoring and
daytime sleepiness. Basically, the airway muscles shut and don’t let air in while you sleep (from
Exercise unit: what gas does your cells need to survive?(<oxygen>). Your mind screams for air
and forces you awake. This can happen many times per night, so you can imagine how hard it
would be to get a good night’s sleep. Many studies have shown how this disorder can shorten
people’s lifespan. It is one of the most under-diagnosed disorders. So, if a person snores and
complains of feeling sleepy all the time, he/she should consult with a doctor.
Narcolepsy is the sudden onset of sleep. In this disorder, subjects lose muscle movement
temporarily. Narcolepsy is typically treated with medication.
VIDEO: Play sleep disorders video – first part is narcolepsy/cataplexy in humans and animals.
This part is very funny, but also fairly long, so fast forward if it begins to draw itself out. The
second part is a short clip about sleep apnea.