• English Conversation Class: Sleep

    A conversation with a student last week and a recent article in the New York Times got us thinking about sleep, and convinced us to make it this week’s group English conversation class subject.

    Salvador Dali's Sleep.

    I’ve always heard stories about so-called “super sleepers,” people like Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart and Napoleon that could function on around 4 hours of sleep per night. I’ve imagined how many more things I could get done if I had a few more hours each. Or how much more I could get done if I wasn’t so tired when I got less than six hours of sleep.

    Teauna is pretty much the opposite. She likes sleeping, and would rather get a good night’s sleep than get in a few more hours of work at the computer.

    According to a recent article in the New York Times, Teauna probably has the right idea. The article talks about research showing that nearly all of us need 8 hours of sleep per night to function at our highest level. Even dropping down to 7 hours harms our performance.

    The study had volunteers who spent two weeks at a sleep lab, where their sleep was carefully controlled as the performed tasks to measure their performance. There were three groups of sleepers, those who got 8 hours, 6 hours and 4 hours per night consistently over the two weeks.

    Most interestingly, while many of the of the 4 and 6 hour sleepers said that they “got used to it” after a few days, tests they took showed that their actual performance had diminished substantially. So, even when people thought they were adapting to sleeplessness, it turned out they were unaware of its effects.

    Still according to the article, about 5 percent of people are able to function at normal levels on about 4 hours of sleep per night. But scientists think genetics are behind this, and that it is not possible to train your body for less sleep.

    Ready to talk about sleep in English? Below you’ll find some questions to prepare you for our next English conversation class. Click here to get registered if you have not already taken a class with us.

    How many hours of sleep do you normally get in a night?

    How many hours of sleep would you like to get?

    What is the longest you have ever gone without sleep?

    What are sleep patterns like in your country? Do you have a mid-day nap (siesta) or do you have just a single sleep cycle?

    Do you think people in your country get enough sleep?

    Do you like sleeping?

    If you could take a pill that prevented you from ever sleeping again, but also prevented you from getting tired, would you?

    See you in class!

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