Dr. Sleep

By Franice & Thacia Stirling  ©2008

MAMA:  Tina and Paco, now that you have your school vacation, Grandma has invited you to come and spend a couple of days at her house.

PACO:  Great. When can we go?

MAMA:  You may go after supper.  Pack a change of clothes and your tooth brushes.

TINA:  I love to spend time with Grandma.  She has such good stories about when she was little.

MAMA:  I know you will have a nice time.  You be sure to help Grandma with the work.

PACO:  We will.  Come on, Tina.  Let's get ready.


PACO:  Grandma, we are here.

TINA:  Hi Grandma. 

GRANDMA:  Hello, children.  I am glad you have come.  It is so good to have you with me.

PACO:  We love to come to your house, Grandma.  Thanks for inviting us to spend the night.

TINA:  Will you tell us stories tonight, Grandma?  I like your stories.

PACO:  And can be play some games, too.

GRANDMA:  Sure, I was hoping you would want to play some dominoes with me.  I haven't had a good game for weeks.  After our games we can have a story.


TINA:  Please, Grandma.  Will you tell just one more story?


TINA:  Can you tell one more story?  Tell about Mama when she was a girl.


TINA:  Don't stop now.  Just one more story?

GRANDMA:  I think I had better go to bed.

PACO:  We aren't sleepy, Grandma.  Can we watch a little TV before we go to bed?  School is out, so we don't have anything to do tomorrow.

GRANDMA:  I guess so.  Don't stay up too late.


GRANDMA:  Children, time to get up.  Breakfast is almost ready.

TINA:  Do we have to get up?

PACO:  It's our vacation.

GRANDMA:  I was hoping you would both help me a little in the garden, before it gets hot.

TINA & PACO:  (sighing)  Okay.

GRANDMA:  What time did you children get to bed? 

TINA:  We watched a movie that didn't get done until 12:30.

GRANDMA:  Children!  I thought I told you to not stay up late?

PACO:  It will be alright.  We don't have school today, so it doesn't matter.


DR. SLEEP:  Hello, Grandma.  I see you have your two grandchildren with you today.

GRANDMA:  Yes.  They came to spend a couple of days.  I enjoy having them with me.  Children, this is my good neighbor, Dr. Sleep.

DR. SLEEP:  Hello, Paco and Tina.  I always hear a lot about you from your Grandma.  She is very proud of you both.

TINA & PACO:  Thank you.

DR. SLEEP:  You two sound a little tired.  Didn't you sleep well last night?

TINA:  We stayed up a little late watching TV.

DR. SLEEP:   Oh, I see.

PACO:  It's vacation, so we can stay up late.

DR. SLEEP:  I take it you don't feel sleep is very important.

PACO:  Not really.  You can always make it up some other time.

DR. SLEEP:  I should tell you about some sleep studies with laboratory rats.

TINA:  People study rats sleeping?

DR. SLEEP:  Yes.  Laboratory rats usually live two to three years, but if rats are not allowed to sleep, they only live about three weeks.  

PACO:  Wow.  Could that happen to people?

DR. SLEEP:  Researchers study rats because they seem to react the same as people for many things.

TINA:  I feel a little grouchy when I don't sleep enough.

DR. SLEEP:   The rats responded the same way, fighting with each other when they couldn't sleep. Lack of sleep really does affect our emotions and how we get along with others.

PACO:  What if the rats were kept awake for only a few days?

DR. SLEEP:  I read another study about some rats that were kept awake for only three days.  Then they were allowed to return to their normal sleep.  How long do you suppose it was before they were back to normal?

TINA:  A day?


PACO:  Two days?

DR. SLEEP:  No.  It took two weeks for the rats to recover from the 3 lost nights of sleep.

PACO:  Why so long?  The body isn't doing anything while it sleeps. 

DR. SLEEP:   We are resting parts of our body, but the body is busy doing things it can't do during the day.  Your body does its growing at night.  You know how much a little baby sleeps.

TINA:  Yes.

DR. SLEEP:  It is also doing a lot of growing.  For us older people, we aren't growing any more, but the body is repairing itself while we sleep.  Wounds seem to heal quicker if the patient is getting a proper amount of sleep.  Teenagers who sleep more seem to have less trouble with skin problems. 

PACO:  Mama always makes us go to bed when we have a cold.  I don't feel tired, so I don't like it.

DR. SLEEP:  The body is better able to fight germs when you sleep.  People with enough sleep have stronger bodies to resist germs.  So sleep can help prevent sickness as well as help heal sickness.

TINA:  How much should we sleep?

DR. SLEEP:  School children should be getting 10-12 hours of sleep every night.  Even high school and college students should be getting about  9 hours of sleep every night, because they are doing heavy mental work.  

PACO:  I would think sleep was more important for people doing physical work than mental work.

DR. SLEEP:   Sleep is very important for the memory.  We have learned that information stored in short term memory during the day is moved into long term memory during sleep.  And if you don't sleep long enough, you may not reach the special sleep stage where that happens.  If you wake up before the job is completed, the memory will be lost.   

PACO: So studying for a test very late at night, and then sleeping only a few hours before taking the test is not going to help you get a good grade.

DR. SLEEP:  That is right.

TINA:  What else does sleep do?

DR. SLEEP:  People who don't sleep enough are often overweight?

TINA:  Why?

DR. SLEEP:  Lack of sleep stresses the body, and the body responds to stress by being hungry.  There are also findings that teenagers who don't sleep enough are more apt to use tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.

TINA:  Sleep is more important than I thought.

PACO:  I can see it is important, but sometimes I am just not tired at bedtime.

DR. SLEEP:  You can help your body prepare for sleep by being active during the daytime.  Try not to eat close to bedtime, especially sugary foods or drinks with caffeine. Then, when it gets close to bedtime, you should doing something quiet, such as reading a book, writing in a diary, or listening to some soft music.  Be sure your room is dark.  All those things should help.

GRANDMA:  Thank you, Dr. Sleep for telling the children about the importance of nightly rest. There is another kind of rest that is also important.

PACO:  What is that?

GRANDMA:  The Sabbath.  God planned that people would take a break from their work every seventh day.    The Sabbath can help up be spiritually and physically healthy.  It also helps our relationships with other people, because we have time to spend with family and friends.

DR. SLEEP:  God made our bodies, so he knows what they need to operate best.

PACO:  Tina, I think we had better get to bed a little early tonight.

TINA:  Yes.  Sleep is too important to miss.