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Night Shift

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Duplicate and distribute these activities. Students may work independently or cooperatively.

Time Cards
Many employees who work the night shift have to balance time spent on the job with family time, personal activities, and leisure. How do the busy people in “Night Shift” divide their time? If they were to clock in and out of all their activities, what would their time card look like?

• Choose one or more stories from “Night Shift” to focus on. You can review some of the stories at

• Calculate the number of hours that this person spends on the job per day. You can estimate if it is not clear.

• Estimate the number of hours per day that this person spends on other activities. These might include family time, sleeping, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, hobbies, sports, watching television, or taking classes.

Use your estimates to create a schedule for this person’s typical day. At what times does he or she begin each activity? How much time does each one take? Make a visual representation of the schedule, and display it in the classroom.

National Sleep Debt
Dr. William Dement says in Segment 8 that Americans are accumulating a national sleep debt. Do research on the Internet to obtain information about the amount of sleep Americans are getting—and the amount they are losing—each night. Approximate the U.S. population at 275 million, and assume that the average person needs eight hours of sleep per night. Then answer:

• If half of Americans are getting eight hours of sleep on any given night, and the other half are getting only six hours per night, what would be the national sleep debt for that night?

• If one person regularly sleeps five hours a night but needs eight, what will that individual’s sleep debt be at the end of one year? At the end of twenty years?

• How much sleep do you get on an average night? Assuming you need eight hours, calculate whether or not you have a sleep debt. If so, what would your debt be over the next year? If you have a sleep surplus, what would your surplus be at the end of the year?

Record your findings on a chart or a graph and display them in the classroom. You may also want to extend the activity by surveying your classmates or members of your community to find out how their sleep schedules compare to the national average.

Making Predictions
Due to our changing economy, the number of night shift jobs are increasing at a greater rate than are day shift jobs. Will this trend continue, with round-the-clock operations becoming the rule? What will the future job market look like? Do research that will enable you to make an informed prediction.

• Survey your classmates to find out what their goals are. Make a bar graph illustrating the results.

• Think about which of the careers favored by your classmates have or may have night-shift jobs. Based on your data and estimations, calculate the percentage of your classmates who could potentially work the night shift.

• Next, think about how jobs will change in the future. If there are an estimated X people working the night shift in the year 2000, and the rate of overnight jobs is increasing by Y percent, how many overnight jobs will there be in ten years? If the rate of increase remains constant, how many will there be in twenty years? In fifty years? What if the rate of increase does not remain constant? Would you expect it to increase or decrease? What effect would that have on the number of night-shift jobs you've predicted will exist?

Use your data and projections to write an article about future increases in night-shift work. Remember to include data about the kinds of careers that might see a rise in night jobs, as well as the amount of people who might have these jobs in the future. Whenever possible, use numbers and percentages to quantify your projections. Send your finished article to the business section of a newspaper in your area.