or distribute this activity. Students may work independently or
Many of the employees in “Night Shift” say that the hardest part
of their jobs is getting a good night’s sleep after the sun comes
up. And in Segment 8, Dr. William Dement warns that a lack of sleep
can cause not only personal health problems, but societal problems
as well. Do you think people are aware of the importance of sleep?
a class survey to find out the amount of hours that your classmates
sleep per night. Ask them if they usually feel tired, or if they
think they are getting enough sleep. You may also want to include
parents or working friends in your survey.
research to learn more about how much sleep the average person
needs per night, and what the health benefits of regular sleep
are. Also investigate what happens to your body when you don’t
get enough sleep. Check out Night Shift’s web resources at www.pbs.org/livelyhood/nightshift/webresources.html
as well as www.pbs.org/livelyhood/nightshift/sleep.html
what kinds of problems can occur from lack of sleep. You may want
to form groups to investigate the accidents mentioned in “Night
Shift,” such as the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, the Three Mile Island
nuclear reactor malfunction as well as the common and dangerous
problem of driving while drowsy. Some websites to help you get
started are: www.fda.gov/fdac/features/1998/sleepsoc.html,
findings in the form of an oral report or visual display. Present
your findings to your classmates, and offer your opinion on how
people can get the sleep they need to stay healthy. You might also
work with classmates to create a public service campaign to inform
people of the importance of sleep for health and safety. Post information
at stores, doctor’s offices, and other locations in your community.
In many overnight jobs, such as an emergency room nurse or a cross-country
trucker, the ability to stay awake and alert is crucial. But what
happens if the night shift workers aren’t getting enough sleep?
Have a discussion about how to decrease the negative effects of
the jobs shown in “Night Shift” in which worker alertness is crucial.
Which ones do you think require the greatest amount of alertness?
workers are tired or nodding off during these jobs, what problems
could arise? Are any of these problems life-threatening?
precautions could employees and their employers take to make sure
no one falls asleep on the job?
some new ideas companies are coming up with to keep workers alert.
For some ideas, check out the Livelyhood website at: www.pbs.org/livelyhood/nightshift/sleep.html
Offer what you think are the
best solutions in the form of a brief presentation, and deliver your
analysis to the class.
Great Sleep Debate
Although some night shift workers claim that their bodies adjust
to a different sleep schedule, other individuals maintain that the
human body never really makes that adjustment. Do you think it is
natural and healthy for people to work the night shift?
research to learn more about the body’s natural sleep schedule.
A good place to start is the "Night Shift" web resources, particularly
the circadian technologies page and The National Sleep Foundation’s
page, at www.pbs.org/livelyhood/nightshift/webresources.html.
Divide the class into two groups. One half will argue that night
shifts are not significantly disruptive to the body’s sleep schedule,
and provide important economic benefits to individuals and society.
The other half will argue that night work is unavoidably disruptive
to sleep schedules, and so is a threat to the well-being of both
individuals and society.
After the debate, let
each individual give his or her opinion on the debate. Make a chart
delineating students' points of view. Post these results in the classroom.