Sleep, Sleep Disorders, and Biological Rhythms
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National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Center on Sleep Disorders Research

Sleep, Sleep Disorders, and Biological Rhythms

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Teacher's Guide

Lesson 2—Explore

Houston, We Have a Problem

At a Glance

Overview

Figure 2.1. Astronauts sleeping in zero gravity
Figure 2.1. Astronauts in zero gravity don’t “lie down” to sleep.

In this lesson, students explore the major stages of sleep and the physiological changes that occur during sleep as compared with wakefulness. An astronaut scenario is used to provide the context for the student explorations. Physiological data are provided for three astronauts. Students evaluate the data and determine the state of sleep or wakefulness of each astronaut. This lesson requires students to make observations, evaluate and interpret data, and draw conclusions.

Major Concepts

Sleep is divided into two major states: NREM and REM. Bodily systems function in characteristic ways during wakefulness, NREM sleep, and REM sleep. Evaluating these functions provides a means of determining an individual’s state of wakefulness or sleep.

Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will

Teacher Background

Consult the following sections in Information about Sleep:

  1. 3.1 Sleep is a dynamic process
  2. 3.2 Physiological changes during sleep
  3. 3.3 Sleep and the brain

In Advance

Web-Based Activities
Activity Web Version?
1 Yes
Photocopies
Activity 1

For the Web-based version
Master 2.2, Astronaut Telemetry Evaluation Form (Make 1 copy per student.)

For the print-based version
Master 2.1, Astronaut Scenario (Prepare an overhead transparency.)
Master 2.2, Astronaut Telemetry Evaluation Form (Make 1 copy per student or team.)
Master 2.3, Telemetry for Astronaut Jordan (Make 1 copy per student.)
Master 2.4, Telemetry for Astronaut Rodriguez (Make 1 copy per student.)
Master 2.5, Telemetry for Astronaut Chen (Make 1 copy per student.)
Master 2.6, Sleep Medicine Reference Manual (Make 1 copy per student.)

Materials
Activity 1 For the Web-based version, you will need computers with an Internet connection and a sound card.

Preparation

No preparations needed (except for photocopying). Make sure that the Internet connections are working and that the sound is functioning.

Procedure

Web activity icon For classes using the Web-based version of this lesson:

  1. Explain to students that they will use a hypothetical scenario to learn about the physiology and major stages of sleep. You can refer to statement 8 on Master 1.1: “Sleep is time for the body and brain to shut down for rest.” (False.) How did the students respond and why? Is sleep really a time when not much is occurring physiologically? Students can now investigate this idea.
  2. Instruct the students to go to http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/sleep/student and click on “Lesson 2—Houston, We Have a Problem.”

Students are free to navigate through the lesson in whatever sequence they prefer. This means that they may select the astronauts in any order. They may obtain information on the seven physiological parameters for each astronaut in any order they choose.

As an alternative, students may work in teams of three. If they work in teams, have each student analyze data for a different astronaut and discuss the data with their team. This approach ensures that each student is actively participating in the activity.

  1. Give each student a copy of Master 2.2, Astronaut Telemetry Evaluation Form.

Explain that they will use it to record their determinations of the astronauts’ sleep states.

  1. Ask students to evaluate the data for each astronaut using the information in the Sleep Medicine Reference Manual. Student observations, interpretations, and conclusions should be entered on Master 2.2, Astronaut Telemetry Evaluation Form.

Students should concentrate on their reasoning and indicate which data were useful in making their determinations, which data were not useful, and in both cases, why.

  1. After students have had an opportunity to complete their analyses, ask them, What is the state of wakefulness or sleep for each of the three astronauts?

Astronaut Jordan is in REM-stage sleep. Astronaut Rodriguez is in NREM-stage sleep. Astronaut Chen is awake.

National Science Education Standards icon
Content Standard A:
Students should develop understandings about scientific inquiry.
  1. Ask the class, Which physiological data are useful for determining a person’s state of wakefulness or sleep?

Students should conclude that the important parameters for distinguishing between sleep states and wakefulness are EEG, EMG, and EOG. The other four parameters—heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and body temperature—might be useful in combination with EEG, EMG, and EOG data, but they are not sufficient by themselves. For instance, heart rate increases during REM, but it also may increase with physical activity during wakefulness.

  1. Ask students, How can you distinguish between REM and NREM sleep? Between REM and wakefulness? NREM and wakefulness?

The EEG, EOG, and EMG data are reproduced in Figure 2.2. First consider astronaut Jordan. Jordan’s EEG does not appear to represent NREM sleep, although students may have difficulty distinguishing between REM and wakefulness EEGs. However, the lack of muscular activity (EMG) during REM as compared with activity during NREM or wakefulness is the key for determining that this individual is in REM-stage sleep. Rodriguez and Chen can be distinguished from each other based on their EEGs (that is, the increased amplitude and decreased frequency of brain waves during NREM compared with the pattern during REM and wakefulness) and their EOGs (that is, large eye movements during wakefulness as compared with little or no eye movements during NREM).

Figure 2.2. Strip chart deflections representing EEG, EOG, and EMG data for Chen while awake, Jordan in REM, and Rodriquez in NREM
Figure 2.2. Astronaut data.
assessment icon
Assessment:
Instruct students to answer questions about animal sleep such as a) Do other animals sleep? b) How is their sleep similar to human sleep? and c) How is their sleep different from human sleep? Make available to students relevant information from the Information about Sleep section and from Web sites listed in the Additional Web Resources for Teachers section.
  1. Explain to the students that during a normal night’s sleep, we cycle through NREM and REM sleep several times. This cycling is called an ultradian rhythm because the cycle time is less than 24 hours. Conclude the lesson by asking, What can you conclude about sleep from this investigation?

Student comments should reflect that sleep is a dynamic process. This means that the body remains physiologically active with characteristic changes in brain and muscle activity, as well as changes in other physiological parameters. Sleep is not uniform, but rather consists of discrete stages that cycle throughout the night.

print activity iconFor classes using the print-based version of this lesson:

  1. Introduce the print-based version of this lesson by explaining to the class that they will use a hypothetical scenario to learn about the physiology and major stages of sleep.

You can refer to statement 8 on Master 1.1: “Sleep is time for the body and brain to shut down for rest.” (False.) How did the students respond and why? Is sleep really a time when not much occurs physiologically? Students can now investigate this idea.

  1. Show the class the transparency of Master 2.1, Astronaut Scenario, and read it aloud.
  2. Give each student a copy of Master 2.2, Astronaut Telemetry Evaluation Form, and single copies of Masters 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5, which contain the telemetry data for the three astronauts.

As an alternative, students may work in teams of three. If they work in teams, have each student analyze data for a different astronaut and discuss it with their team. This approach ensures that each student is actively participating in the activity.

  1. Explain that these data are sufficient to tell if an astronaut is awake or asleep, and if asleep, whether in NREM or REM sleep. Further explain that not all of the data may be useful for determining the astronauts’ sleep states.
  2. Give each student a copy of Master 2.6, Sleep Medicine Reference Manual. Explain that this is a resource to help them interpret the data they have in front of them and relate it to the astronauts’ sleep states.
  3. Instruct students to evaluate the data for each astronaut, using the information in the Sleep Medicine Reference Manual for comparison. Student observations, interpretations, and conclusions should be entered on Master 2.2, Astronaut Telemetry Evaluation Form.
  4. After students have had an opportunity to complete their analyses, ask the class, What is the state of wakefulness or sleep of each of the three astronauts?

Astronaut Jordan is in REM-stage sleep. Astronaut Rodriguez is in NREM-stage sleep. Astronaut Chen is awake.

National Science Education Standards icon
Content Standard A:
Students should develop understandings about scientific inquiry.
  1. Ask the class, Which physiological data are useful for determining a person’s state of wakefulness or sleep?

Students should conclude that the important parameters for distinguishing between sleep states and wakefulness are EEG, EMG, and EOG. The other four parameters—heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and body temperature—might be useful in combination with EEG, EMG, and EOG data, but they are not sufficient by themselves. For instance, heart rate increases during REM, but it also may increase with physical activity during wakefulness.

  1. Ask students, How can you distinguish between REM and NREM sleep? Between REM and wakefulness? NREM and wakefulness?

The EEG, EOG, and EMG data are reproduced in Figure 2.2. First consider astronaut Jordan. Jordan’s EEG does not appear to represent NREM sleep, although students may have difficulty distinguishing between REM and wakefulness EEGs. However, the lack of muscular activity (EMG) during REM as compared with activity during NREM or wakefulness is the key for determining that this individual is in REM-stage sleep. Rodriguez and Chen can be distinguished from each other based on their EEGs (that is, the increased amplitude and decreased frequency of brain waves during NREM compared with the pattern during REM and wakefulness) and their EOGs (that is, large eye movements during wakefulness as compared with little or no eye movements during NREM).

assessment icon
Assessment:
Instruct students to answer questions about animal sleep such as a) Do other animals sleep? b) How is their sleep similar to human sleep? and c) How is their sleep different from human sleep? Make available to students relevant information from the Information about Sleep section and from Web sites listed in the Additional Web Resources for Teachers section.
  1. Explain to the class that during a normal night’s sleep, we cycle through NREM and REM sleep several times. This cycling is called an ultradian rhythm because the cycle time is less than 24 hours. Conclude the lesson by asking, What can you conclude about sleep from this investigation?

Student comments should reflect that sleep is a dynamic process. This means that the body remains physiologically active with characteristic changes in brain and muscle activity, as well as changes in other physiological parameters. Sleep is not uniform, but rather consists of discrete stages that cycle throughout the night.


Web activity icon Lesson 2 Organizer: Web Version
Activity 1: Houston, We Have a Problem
What the Teacher Does Procedure Reference

Explain that this lesson uses a hypothetical scenario to investigate physiology and the major stages of sleep.

  • Ask the class to reflect on their responses to the statement from Lesson 1, “Sleep is time for the body and brain to shut down for rest.” (False.)
Web activity iconStep 1
Divide the class into student teams. Instruct them to log onto the Web site and click on “Lesson 2—Houston, We Have a Problem.” Step 2
Give each student a copy of Master 2.2, Astronaut Telemetry Evaluation Form. master icon Step 3
After they have listened to the introduction, have students evaluate data for each astronaut and write down their observations, interpretations, and conclusions using Master 2.2, Astronaut Telemetry Form. Step 4

Discuss the sleep state of each astronaut and ask,

  • Which data are useful for making such determinations?
  • How can we distinguish between REM and NREM sleep?
  • How can we distinguish between REM and wakefulness?
  • How can we distinguish between NREM and wakefulness?
Steps 5–7

Explain that during the night, we cycle between NREM and REM sleep several times.

  • Introduce the concept of an ultradian rhythm.
  • Ask the class, What can you conclude about sleep from this investigation?
Step 8
Web activity icon= Involves using the Internet.  
master icon= Involves copying a master.  
print activity icon Lesson 2 Organizer: Print Version
Activity 1: Houston, We Have a Problem
What the Teacher Does Procedure Reference

Explain that this lesson uses a hypothetical scenario to investigate physiology and the major stages of sleep.

  • Ask the class to reflect on their responses to the statement from Lesson 1, “Sleep is time for the body and brain to shut down for rest.” (False.)
Step 1
Show the transparency of Master 2.1, Astronaut Scenario, and read it to the class. transparency iconStep 2

Give each student a copy of Master 2.2, Astronaut Telemetry Evaluation Form, and single copies of Masters 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5, which contain the telemetry data for the three astronauts.

  • Explain that these data are sufficient to tell if an astronaut is awake or asleep, and if asleep, whether in NREM or REM sleep.
master iconSteps 3 and 4

Give each student a copy of Master 2.6, Sleep Medicine Reference Manual.

  • Explain that it is a resource to help them interpret the astronauts’ data.
master iconStep 5
Instruct students to evaluate the data for each astronaut and enter their conclusions on Master 2.2, Astronaut Scenario. Step 6

Discuss the sleep state of each astronaut and ask,

  • Which data are useful for making such determinations?
  • How can we distinguish between REM and NREM sleep?
  • How can we distinguish between REM and wakefulness?
  • How can we distinguish between NREM and wakefulness?

Steps 7–9

 

Explain that during the night, we cycle between NREM and REM sleep several times.

  • Introduce the concept of an ultradian rhythm.
  • Ask the class, What can you conclude about sleep from this investigation?

Step 10

transparency icon= Involves using a transparency.  
master icon= Involves copying a master.  

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