Question Sheet: Getting Enough Sleep


Before reading:

  1. Do you think that you normally get enough sleep? What happens when you don’t

    get your normal amount of sleep?

  2. How have your sleeping needs and habits changed since you were a baby, a

    little kid, and now a preteen or teenager?

During reading:

  1. Why is lack of sleep a growing problem in the United States?
  2. How does the body’s “master clock” work?
  3. What is melatonin, and how does it affect the body?
  4. How does exercise affect sleep?
  5. What changes are some schools making in response to the biological needs of

    children, especially teens?

  6. What factors disturb your sleep?

After reading:

  1. Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of a high school

    starting as early as 7 a.m. Come up with at least three reasons for each side of

    the debate about changing school starting times. See (National Sleep Foundation) or (Iowa Sleep Disorders Center).

  2. Do you agree with the results of the sleep studies reported in this article?

    Find out for yourself what amount of sleep makes you feel best. Keep a record

    for a month of how long you sleep each night and consider whether you had a

    productive day, felt healthy, and exercised afterwards. At the end of the month,

    see if you can figure out what amount of sleep suits you best.

  3. Why would having a lot of electronic devices in your bedroom affect sleep?
  4. Why do you think that many kids you know don’t get enough sleep? What might

    encourage them to sleep more?

  5. If melatonin levels are affected by the sunlight, how would they change in

    the summer when it stays light outside later versus the winter? See

    (National Sleep Foundation).

  6. Why might a teenager need more sleep than a younger kid?


One historian has argued that an uninterrupted night’s rest is a modern invention. In the past, he says, people tended to sleep in segments, sleeping for a while, then rising to do something, then sleeping again, and so on. See


(New York Times) or (Virginia

Tech). Where would you look for evidence supporting or opposing his claim? See (NPR).


  1. Interview three kids in your class about their sleep patterns. Write a brief

    report summarizing when they go to sleep, how many hours of sleep they get, and

    how well they sleep.

  2. Write a persuasive letter to the head of your local school board presenting

    an argument about why the school day should start later that it does now.


Four men are shipwrecked on an island. For food, they gather some coconuts. They get tired and all fell asleep. After a while, one of the men wakes up and eats 1/3 of the coconuts—more than his proper share—then goes back to sleep. The second man wakes up a little later and eats 1/3 of the remaining coconuts before going back to sleep. The third man does the same. When the fourth man awakes, he takes only his rightful share of the

remaining coconuts. Now, there are six coconuts left. How many coconuts did the

men gather?