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Yolanda Devere

Sleep is the time
when our bodies
and minds are
rested and

When he invented the light bulb, Thomas Edison started a revolution in the way people sleep. Before electric light, people's lives followed the natural rhythms of the day and seasons. After the invention of electricity, hours of work changed dramatically. No longer was there a need to stop working and go to bed just because it was dark.
Edison himself believed that sleep was an unnecessary annoyance. He was proud that he only needed four hours sleep every night.
Most adults need about eight hours sleep every night to feel alert, rested, and able to work well during the next day. Some people can manage with only six hours, others need ten. Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, and Leonardo da Vinci, like Edison, needed much less than six hours of sleep each night. But, reassuringly, Einstein had to have ten hours of sleep or he felt terrible!
Scientists suggest that today, most adults get up to two hours less sleep than they need. As a result those lacking sleep are forgetful, tired, less productive and grumpy. A lot of the blame for that must lie with Mr Edison and his electric light bulb.

What is sleep?
Sleep is the time when our bodies and minds are rested and restored. There are two types of sleep. We need both types to be healthy:
• Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is when we dream. Our brains are active, and our eyes make fast short movements, as if watching something. This type of sleep helps restore our mind.
• Non-REM (NREM) sleep is when our brain and body slow down. Our heart rate slows and our breathing is regular. This type of sleep helps restore our body. We have twice as much NREM sleep as REM sleep each night.

How to get a better sleep
• Have a regular time for sleeping and a routine before you go to bed. This will give your body the signal that it is time to sleep.
• Make sure the bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable. If your bed is too hard or too soft, if you are too cold or too hot, you will not sleep well.
• For two hours before going to bed do not drink coffee or alcohol, and do not smoke or exercise. All these things stimulate your body and make sleep difficult.

Source: New English Digest


light bulb: bombilla eléctrica, lamparita
no longer: ya no
annoyance: molestia, incomodidad
proud: orgulloso de
alert: despejados
able to work: en condiciones de trabajar
can manage: pueden arreglarse
those lacking sleep: a quienes les falta sueño
forgetful: olvidadizos

tired: cansados
grumpy: gruñones, malhumorados
blame: culpa
must lie with: hay que echársela a
restored: recuperados
dream: soñamos
brains: cerebros
slow down: se desaceleran
twice as much: dos veces más
too hard: demasiado dura
too soft: demasiado blanda


Read the article again and find the answers to the following questions. Then check your answers here.

1. Why did working hours change after the invention of electricity?

2. Who invented the light bulb?

3. How many hours a night did the inventor of the light bulb sleep?

4. Who needed less sleep - Albert Einstein or Margaret Thatcher?

5. Do scientists think people should sleep more or less?

6. Which type of sleep helps restore our mind?   

7. What should we not do before going to bed?