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CNN Classroom Edition: Sleep: A Dr. Sanjay Gupta Special

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(CNN Student News) -- Set your VCR to record the CNN Special Classroom Edition: Sleep: A Dr. Sanjay Gupta Special when it airs commercial-free on Monday, July 23, 2007, from approximately 4:10 -- 5:00 a.m. ET on CNN. (A short feature begins at 4:00 a.m. and precedes the program.)

Program Overview

"Sleep is essential to life and health, but anywhere from 50 to 70 million of us in the United States alone do not get enough of it," says CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. In this Classroom Edition of the CNN Special: Sleep, Dr. Gupta delves into the realm of sleep and dreams, investigating remedies for sleeplessness, the dangers of fatigue, the meaning of dreams and some unusual sleep disorders.

Grade Level: 7-12

Subject Areas: Health, Language Arts

Objectives: The CNN Special Classroom Edition: Sleep: A Dr. Sanjay Gupta Special and its corresponding discussion questions and activities challenge students to:

  • Understand that teenagers and adults have natural sleep patterns;
  • Explain the physical and mental effects of sleep deprivation;
  • Identify some of the different causes of sleep deprivation;
  • Learn about the evolution of dream research during the last 60 years;
  • Identify and analyze their current sleeping patterns;
  • Examine the extent to which sleep deprivation is a problem for themselves and for those in their community.
  • Curriculum Connections


    Standard 7: Knows how to maintain mental and emotional health

    Level III [Grade: 6-8]

    Benchmark 2. Knows how positive health practices and appropriate health care can help to reduce health risks

    McREL: Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) ( link ), 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990.

    Language Arts

    Standard 4. Gathers and uses information for research purposes

    Level III [Grade: 6-8]

    Benchmark 1. Gathers data for research topics from interviews (e.g., prepares and asks relevant questions, makes notes of responses, compiles responses)

    Level IV [Grade: 9-12]

    Benchmark 1. Uses appropriate research methodology (e.g., formulates questions and refines topics, develops a plan for research; organizes what is known about a topic; uses appropriate research methods, such as questionnaires, experiments, field studies; collects information to narrow and develop a topic and support a thesis)

    McREL: Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) ( link ), 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990.

    Thinking and Reasoning Standards

    Standard 5: Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques

    Level III [Grade: 6-8]

    Benchmark 2: Selects the most appropriate strategy or alternative for solving a problem

    Benchmark 3: Examines different alternatives for resolving local problems and compares the possible consequences of each alternative

    Level IV [Grade: 9-12]

    Benchmark 6: Represents a problem accurately in terms of resources, constraints and objectives

    Benchmark 10: Evaluates the feasibility of various solutions to problems; recommends and defends a solution

    McREL: Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) ( link ), 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990.

    Discussion Questions

    1. According to experts, on average, how many hours of sleep a night do adults need? How many Americans have trouble sleeping?

    2. What are circadian rhythms? What are some reasons that people experience insomnia? What are the possible health consequences of sleep deprivation? What can insomniacs do to help themselves sleep through the night?

    3. On average, how many hours of sleep do you get each night? Have you ever suffered from insomnia? If so, why? How did it make you feel, physically and emotionally? How did being sleep deprived impact your life? Were you able to resolve your sleeping problems? If so, how?

    4. What sleep disorders are described in the program? What treatments are available for these sleep disorders?

    5. According to the program, what happens to our bodies when we sleep? How many stages of sleep are there? How often do we cycle through these stages? Why are these sleep states important to our physical and mental well-being?

    6. According to experts, what are some of the possible reasons that people dream? Where in the brain are dreams thought to originate? In what stage of sleep do we do most of our dreaming? According to Dr. Gupta, why don't we act out our dreams when we sleep?

    7. Why do you think that some people are interested in interpreting the meaning of their dreams? Who was Sigmund Freud? Do you agree with Freud that dreams can help people to understand their unconscious thoughts and desires? Why or why not? What are your views on dream analysis? Do you think that you are influenced by your dreams? Explain.

    8. According to the program, how has dream researched evolved since the 1950s? What are some of the areas of current dream research? In your opinion, what might be some of the different applications of these research findings?

    Suggested Activities

    1. Teens and Sleep

    Point out to students that, according to the American Sleep Disorders Association, "The average teenager needs around 9.5 hours of sleep per night." Then, have student groups conduct research to learn more about the sleep needs of teenagers and the consequences of sleep deprivation for teens. Pose the following questions to guide students' research:

  • What is the natural sleep cycle for teenagers?
  • Do the sleep needs of teens differ from those of adults? If so, how?
  • How prevalent is sleep deprivation among teenagers?
  • What are some of the causes of sleep deprivation among teens?
  • What are some of the physical and psychological effects of sleep deprivation?
  • How can a lack of sleep impact a teenager's academic and athletic performance and social relationships?
  • What are some of the interventions and medical treatments that are being used to address sleep deprivation among teens?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of these interventions and treatments?
  • After groups deliver formal presentations to the class, ask: Why do you think that sleep medication prescriptions for children age 10 to 19 are up 85 percent since 2000? To what extent do you think that sleep deprivation is a problem among students at your school? Do you think that schools should start later in the morning to accommodate students' sleep needs? Why or why not?

    EXTENSION: Have each student chronicle his or her sleep patterns for one week. Instruct students to keep track of when they go to bed, when they get up and how they feel when they wake up. Ask them to note what they did during the day and in the hours prior to going to bed. At the end of the week, have them analyze their data to determine the extent to which their pre-sleep behaviors might have positively or negatively impacted their quality of sleep. If warranted, have students write themselves "prescriptions" for how to achieve a healthier night's sleep.

    2. Are sleep disorders a problem in your community?

    Print copies of the Sleep Survey Questions and distribute them to students. Next, review the questions with your class and instruct each student to administer the survey to three teenagers and three adults in their community. After students complete their interviews, have them summarize their findings and share them with the class. Pose the following questions for class discussion:

  • What types of sleeping problems are present in your community?
  • What methods for treating sleep disorders are the most popular among different demographic groups?
  • Which treatments seem to be the most effective? Which seem to be least effective?
  • What effects are sleep disorders having on the subjects' performance at home, work and school?
  • Following the discussion, have students write articles for their school or local newspaper about the importance of sleep and their survey findings.


    Insomnia, sleep deprivation, fatigue, drowsy driving, REM, parasomniacs, sleep disorders, sleep apnea, circadian rhythms, reaction time, sleepwalk, dreams, nightmares, caffeine, memory integration, Sigmund Freud, cognitive behavior therapy



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