Listening is a skill. Whether it be listening to your professors, radio broadcasts or news broadcasts, listening to people is a task that we all need to tackle. If you are learning to speak English and you want to improve your English listening comprehension and spoken fluency, the first and most important step is to do a lot of English listening practice.
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It is amazing how increased English language listening practice helps you with your spoken English. Today we talk about something which affects us all - sleep!
Give us a listen and find out how much your English language improves.
If the person you are listening to speaks English clearly and distinctly, you can use them to practice your understanding of English. That’s what Adept English offers, super high quality spoken English that you can use to learn English with. I’ve been listening to people and broadcasting my thoughts on the same topic for 5 years now, so I have a lot of advice in communicating with others through speech.
I grew up listening to everybody.
⭐ Lil Baby, American - Musician
When it comes to listening, I have a few tips for you. The first is to make sure that you are in a quiet place where there are no distractions. If possible, try to find a spot that is free from any outside noise or interference.
✔Lesson transcript: https://adeptenglish.com/lessons/english-listening-practice-level-b2-sleep/
You can also use headphones if you don’t want anyone else around you hearing what’s going on. If there are people around and they talk about something unrelated, close your eyes and focus on what the other person is saying instead of trying to focus on two things at once.
- Broadcasts: This word refers to when a program is shown on television or played on the radio.
- Distractions: These are things that stop you from giving your full attention to something else.
- Naturally: When something happens naturally, it means it happens on its own without any help.
- Gene: This is a part of a cell in your body that controls how you grow and what you look like.
- Receptors: These are parts of a cell that can receive a certain kind of signal or substance.
- Sunshine: This is light and heat that comes from the sun.
- Coincides: When two things coincide, they happen at the same time.
- Chronotype: This word refers to whether you are a "morning person" or a "night person".
- Occupies: When something occupies a place, it fills or uses that place.
Hi there. Let's talk today about something which affects us all - our sleep, S L E E P.
And I've spoken in the podcast before about sleep. There are lots of different kinds of problems that people can have with their sleep, myself included. One of them is connected with being what's called a 'night owl'. This means somebody who's naturally at their best, late at night, and who finds it difficult to get up in the morning.
The opposite is a 'morning lark'. Someone who likes going to bed early and has no problem getting up. I've talked before about 'owls' and 'larks' in Podcast 335, but I'll explain those terms, those words again here. And also pass on some information about what can you do about it if you're a 'night owl'.
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
So first of all, those terms, a 'night owl', that's O W L. An 'owl' is a bird of prey. That means it eats other animals and the owls are active at night. They have great big eyes enabling them to see at night, and they'll swoop down and catch a mouse to eat. That is an owl.
So a person who is a 'night owl' stays up late at night naturally, and they're not morning people. Whereas someone who is a 'lark' or 'gets up with the lark'? A 'lark', L A R K, is a bird, which is known for being out and about early on in the day. Larks rise early. So we say 'you're up with the lark'. That means 'you get up early'. So larks are good first thing in the morning and not late at night. Owls are great, late at night, not good first thing in the morning.
' Night owls' - so the people who're night owls - when they're the subject of scientific study, they're also referred to as having 'the clock gene', C L O C K gene, or being 'a late chronotype' or an 'evening chronotype'. That's what scientists call them - these are the technical terms.
A photograph of an owl on a branch. English listening practice to help you understand extended and complex speech on familiar topics.
So, as I described in Podcast 335, the neuroscientist and expert on sleep, Matthew Walker says that whether we're a night owl or a lark is determined by our genes, G E N E S. It's genetic. He estimates 40% of people are larks, 30% of people are night owls, and the rest are somewhere in between.
Matthew Walker expresses his concern for night owls. Society sometimes tends to treat them or think of them as 'a little bit lazy' - they lie in bed in the morning, but that ignores the fact that they're energetic late at night.
The problem is for night owls, falling asleep early is not easy. It's not necessarily a choice that night owls are making! And the other side of it, society expects us to get up early. Children are expected in school by 8:30am in the morning. That doesn't give night owls opportunity to get enough sleep. So society is structured around larks, people who get up early, and it's almost a moral judgment that's made.
Matthew Walker worries that night owls get less good quality sleep than larks. And given that your R E M or 'dream sleep' tends to occur towards the end of the night, owls miss out on their REM sleep when they have to get up early.
However, my argument would be when the clocks change, when what used to be known as 'daylight savings' occurs - we do make adjustment then, don't we?
So in the UK and much of Europe and in several other countries around the world, at the end of October, the clocks move back an hour. And at the end of March, they move forward an hour. This is known as 'daylight savings'. And in fact, I think they've stopped doing it all together in the US.
But my point is here, we're not changing our genetic tendency, but we do make adjustments. It may take a couple of days, but we do it. Also when we travel across time zones, we adjust to the new time, eventually. That's not changing our genetics.
Actually, Matthew Walker has some interesting things to say about the clocks changing or about 'daylight savings'. He points out the statistics. Apparently when we get an extra hour in bed in October, this change coincides with a number of heart attacks and road traffic accidents going down by more than 20%.
And in March, when the clocks go forward and we lose an hour's sleep, heart attacks increase by 24% and road accidents increase by 21%. I find those amazing statistics. That's how much our sleep matters. That's how sensitive we are. So yes, we can adjust, but perhaps there's a price to pay.
So if you're like me and you're a night owl, someone who is at their best late at night and who finds it difficult to fall asleep early, how can you make adjustment? How can you adjust your circadian rhythm, your inner body clock?
Well, the best advice is apparently that you expose yourself to bright daylight on waking. As soon as you wake up, you sit out in the sunshine. Make sure your eyes are seeing bright sunlight or at least bright daylight if there's no sun.
And turn off any settings in the morning on your phone, which remove blue light. The blue light removal is what you want to have on at night, but do the reverse in the morning.
The other side of the advice is darken things down much earlier. So don't use your mobile phone or your computer after dinner at night. Reduce the amount of light from early evening and you'll find yourself better able to go to bed early and fall asleep.
Don't use your phone in bed. Apparently even with your blue light filter on, using your phone will wake you up again. It interferes with the process of going to sleep.
I did another podcast where I mentioned Matthew Walker. I'm a big fan of his. It was Podcast 552 and there I was talking about how caffeine can affect your sleep. And again, how sensitivity to caffeine - that's what's in coffee and other things - sensitivity to caffeine is also genetic.
I explained in podcast 552, the importance of letting your adenosine build up across the day. You need that adenosine to help you get to sleep at night, so it builds up making you sleepy. If you nap during the day, then you use up precious adenosine and the interaction with coffee? Well, caffeine occupies the receptors in your brain, which should be receiving the adenosine, and if you're slow to process caffeine - if you're 'caffeine sensitive' - then the caffeine will prevent your feeling sleepy. So check out podcasts 552 if you're interested in that.
There's also some suggestion that exercising in the morning is better, if you're a night owl. If you exercise within one and a half hours of going to bed, that may mean that you can't fall asleep so easily. So morning time exercise is better apparently.
Another person who's influential in the UK and who is talking about sleep is the broadcaster and doctor, Michael Mosley. Michael Mosley is the inventor of the 5:2 diet, if you've heard of that? He's currently doing a podcast on the BBC about sleep, designed to help you get to sleep more effectively.
In one of the episodes in his podcast, he talks about how slowing your breathing is a very powerful sleep aid. Much more than we'd ever realized. I'm sure you're familiar as I am, with any app or advice designed to help you relax or go to sleep. They suggest focusing on the breath, your breathing - that's taking the air in and out. But apparently slowing your breathing has a very powerful effect in your brain.
It's related to a tiny part of the brain called the 'Locus Caeruleus'. That's L O C U S C A E R U L E U S, if you want to look it up.
Apparently slowing your breathing down alters the amount of carbon dioxide in your brain, and the 'Locus Caeruleus' is impacted and it means that slow breathing reduces the amount of noradrenaline. Now 'noradrenaline' or adrenaline is a neurotransmitter, and if you're excitable and awake and very much on the alert, then probably you are full of adrenaline at that moment.
And adrenaline or noradrenaline or 'norepinephrine' - norepinephrine is what it's called in the US - this is what you don't want when you're trying to sleep. So quick breathing, more noradrenaline, slow breathing, much less noradrenaline. So those busy cycling thoughts when you're trying to sleep will tend to calm down if you slow your breathing. That's worth knowing!
Finally, a well-known study from 2013 from Boulder, Colorado. The reference for this is in the links. They took a number of people out on an expedition, people who were both larks and night owls. And they got them to camp, out in the middle of nowhere. And these people stayed for a time and were allowed no artificial light.
So when the sun set, they went to bed. And when the sun rose, they got up. No phones, no television, no artificial light. And in this study, they made sure that they had a mixture of larks and night owls. What they found was after a period of time, everybody's body clock synchronized, synchronized to match the natural light cycle.
Everybody's body clock had synchronized by the end of the study. This study suggests yes, there's a genetic difference between night owls and morning larks, but it also takes electric light and exposure to it, for night owls to have that later body clock. If they're not exposed to electric light, they can an earlier body clock, an earlier sleep cycle, just like the larks. So even if genetically you're a night owl, you can change things by adjusting the amount of light exposure you have late in the day and early in the morning. That's worth a try too, I think!
Well, there are lots of technical terms, vocabulary related to sleep and health. Lots and lots of words in this podcast. I think it's interesting material, as well as being good practice for your English language. There's a lot more to say about sleep. Let us know if you'd like more podcasts on this topic.
We're always keen to hear from you. And don't forget to help Adept English out by giving us a good review or subscribing to our channel.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to again soon. Goodbye.
Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com
- Podcast 552
- How daylight saving time affects our bodies, minds -- and world
- Is daylight saving time permanently staying?
- What’s the Best Time of Day to Exercise for Sleep?
- How to Change Yourself from a Night Person Into a Morning Person
- 9 Ways to Stop Being a Night Owl
- Entrainment of the Human Circadian Clock to the Natural Light-Dark Cycle
- Michael Mosley
- In This Learn Spoken English Lesson We Ask Are You A Lark Or An Owl Ep 335
- English Listening Practice-A Strong Listen For Coffee Lovers Ep 552
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