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  • Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice.

  • And I'm Neil.

  • So Neil, did you sleep well last night?

  • Um, yes, thanks. Why do you ask?

  • Today we're talking about how much sleep we need.

  • Ah, I like a good eight hours myselften at the weekend. How about you?

  • Six is enough for me. But did you know this? Humans sleep around three hours less than other primates like chimps, who sleep for about ten hours.

  • So you're a chimp, Neil... at the weekends, at least! Are you ready for the quiz question?

  • OK, I'll assume that means yes. Right. What's another word for sleepwalking?

  • Is it... a) narcolepsy? b) restless legs syndrome? or c) somnambulism?

  • I will go for b) restless legs syndrome, since there's a connection with the legs.

  • Well, we'll find out whether you're right or wrong later on in the show.

  • So what keeps you awake at night, Neil?

  • Not much, to be honest. I usually sleep like a log and that means very heavily indeed!

  • But sometimes my own snoring wakes me up, and then I can find it hard to get back to sleep.

  • Snoring, for those of you who don't know, means breathing in a noisy way through your mouth or nose while you're asleep. [snores] ... like that... How about you, Alice?

  • Very good, yes. Well, that's quite ridiculous!

  • Anyway, for me, it's drinking too much coffee during the day.

  • It's the caffeine in coffee – a chemical that makes you feel more awake which can stop you from sleeping at night.

  • But there are so many things that can keep us awake these days.

  • Oh yes. Radio, TV... techy stuff like 24-hour internet, computers, smart phones. I love my phone and it's never far from me!

  • Well, let's hear what Professor Jerome Siegel, from the University of California, found when he studied the sleep habits of three different hunter-gatherer communities who have very little contact with modern society.

  • They don't have artificial light, electricity, batteries, or any of the gadgets that we rely on today.

  • Their sleep was not that different from ours.

  • The range of sleep period was about 6.9 to 8.5 hours.

  • If you actually measure sleep in current populations in the United States or in Europe, they're definitely at the low end of what's been reported.

  • They certainly don't sleep a lot less than we do, but they clearly don't sleep more.

  • Professor Jerome Siegel found that people in these communities don't go to bed until several hours after sundownjust like us!

  • But one big difference is that very few of them suffer from insomnia, which means having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

  • Now, I don't have a problem with insomnia. And hunter-gathererspeople who live by hunting animals and gathering plants to eatdon't either probably because they take a lot of physical exercise during the day.

  • Yes, that's right. Taking exercise is an important factor in sleeping soundlyor wellat night.

  • But these days our minds can be so active that it becomes very difficult to fall asleep.

  • Let's listen to Professor Kevin Morgan, from Loughborough University here in England, talking about how cognitive behavioural therapy can be used to help people with insomnia.

  • If you have a train of thoughts which would otherwise keep you awake one way of dealing with this is to block those thoughts.

  • What I'd like you to do is repeat the word 'the' in your mind at irregular intervals

  • the the the the the the the the the

  • And what you'll find (is) that the mind space required to do this, blocks out almost everything else.

  • So Professor Kevin Morgan suggests saying one word over and over again at irregular intervals.

  • Irregular in this context means not spaced out evenly.

  • Doing it can help to block out the thoughts that are stopping you from getting to sleep.

  • It sounds like a very simple solution. I wonder if it works?

  • Um, there's one way to find out, Neil. Try it yourself!

  • Um, I will.

  • OK. And cognitive behavioural therapy by the way is a treatment for mental health problems that tries to change the way you think.

  • Well, I usually count sheep if I can't get to sleep. Do you do that, Alice?

  • No, not usually. No. OK, I think it's time for the answer to our quiz question.

  • I asked: What's another word for sleepwalking? Is it... a) narcolepsy? b) restless legs syndrome? or c) somnambulism?

  • And I said b) restless legs syndrome.

  • Sorry, Neil, it's actually c) somnambulismthe roots of this word come from Latin.

  • Somnus means 'sleep' and and ambulare means 'walk'.

  • Narcolepsy is a condition where you can't stop yourself falling asleep, especially during the day.

  • Narcolepsy...

  • And restless legs syndrome is a condition that makes you desperate to move your legs around, especially when you're sitting quietly or trying to get to sleep.

  • ... get to sleep...

  • Neil! Wake up!

  • Oh, hello Alice! Sorry.

  • Hello! Can we hear today's words again, please?

  • Oh, OK, yeah:

  • Sleep like a log.

  • Snoring.

  • Caffeine.

  • Insomnia.

  • Hunter-gatherers.

  • Soundly.

  • Irregular.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy.

  • Well, that just about brings us to the end of this edition of 6 Minute English.

  • We hope you've enjoyed this programme.

  • Please do join us again soon. Bye.

  • Good bye.

Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice.

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B1 UK alice sleep restless narcolepsy syndrome insomnia

BBC 6 Minute English January 14, 2016 - Is modern life making us tired?

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    Adam Huang posted on 2021/07/27
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