Let’s learn about sleep | Science News for Students
let’s learn about sleep | science news for students

Let’s learn about sleep | Science News for Students

anxious: (n. anxiety) A feeling of dread over some potential or upcoming situation, usually one over which someone feels he has little control.

average: (in science) A term for the arithmetic mean, which is the sum of a group of numbers that is then divided by the size of the group.

body clock: (also known as biological clock ) A mechanism present in all life forms that controls when various functions such as metabolic signals, sleep cycles or photosynthesis should occur.

caffeine: A natural, plant-based stimulant, which activates the nervous system and heart. The leaves, seeds and fruits of many plants contain caffeine. In coffee plants and tea bushes, caffeine acts as a natural pesticide. It will kill or harm insects that attempt to dine on the plant. Caffeine is also toxic to some types of plants, bacteria — even frogs and dogs.

circadian rhythm: Biological functions such as body temperature and sleeping/waking times that operate on a roughly 24-hour cycle.

diet: (n.) The foods and liquids ingested by an animal to provide the nutrition it needs to grow and maintain health. Sometimes this is a specific food-intake plan. (v.) To adopt a specific food-intake plan. People may adopt one for religious or ethical reasons, to address food allergies or to control a disease such as high blood pressure or diabetes. They may also adopt one in an effort to lose weight, though this can an unhealthy thing if not done under the guidance of a health professional, such as a physician or registered dietician.

discrimination: (in social science) An attitude of prejudice again people or things based on a bias about one or more of their attributes (such as race, sex, religion or age). It is not based on the actions of an individual but instead based on yet-unfounded expectations that are being applied broadly to a whole group.

electronics: Devices that are powered by electricity but whose properties are controlled by the semiconductors or other circuitry that channel or gate the movement of electric charges.

environment: The sum of all of the things that exist around some organism or the process and the condition those things create. Environment may refer to the weather and ecosystem in which some animal lives, or, perhaps, the temperature and humidity (or even the placement of things in the vicinity of an item of interest).

factor: Something that plays a role in a particular condition or event; a contributor.

high school: A designation for grades nine through 12 in the U.S. system of compulsory public education. High-school graduates may apply to colleges for further, advanced education.

hormone: (in zoology and medicine) A chemical produced in a gland and then carried in the bloodstream to another part of the body. Hormones control many important body activities, such as growth. Hormones act by triggering or regulating chemical reactions in the body.

LED: (short for light emitting diode) Electronic components that, as their name suggests, emit light when electricity flows through them. LEDs are very energy-efficient and often can be very bright. They have lately been replacing conventional lights for home and commercial lamps.

link: A connection between two people or things.

melatonin: A hormone secreted in the evening by a structure in the brain. Melatonin tells the body that it is nearing time to sleep. It plays a key role in regulating circadian rhythms.

mental health: A term for someone’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. It refers to how people behave on their own and how they interact with others. It includes how people make choices, handle stress and manage fear or anxiety. Poor mental health can be triggered by disease or merely reflect a short-term response to life’s challenges. It can occur in people of any age, from babies to the elderly.

physical: (adj.) A term for things that exist in the real world, as opposed to in memories or the imagination. It can also refer to properties of materials that are due to their size and non-chemical interactions (such as when one block slams with force into another). (in biology and medicine) The term can refer to the body, as in a physical exam or physical activity.

primate: The order of mammals that includes humans, apes, monkeys and related animals (such as tarsiers, the Daubentonia and other lemurs).

puberty: A developmental period in humans and other primates when the body undergoes hormonal changes that will result in the maturation of reproductive organs.

risk: The chance or mathematical likelihood that some bad thing might happen. For instance, exposure to radiation poses a risk of cancer. Or the hazard — or peril — itself. (For instance: Among cancer risks that the people faced were radiation and drinking water tainted with arsenic.)

smartphone: A cell (or mobile) phone that can perform a host of functions, including search for information on the internet.

species: A group of similar organisms capable of producing offspring that can survive and reproduce.

stress: (in psychology) A mental, physical, emotional or behavioral reaction to an event or circumstance (stressor) that disturbs a person or animal’s usual state of being or places increased demands on a person or animal; psychological stress can be either positive or negative. (in physics) Pressure or tension exerted on a material object.

survey: To view, examine, measure or evaluate something, often land or broad aspects of a landscape. (with people) To ask questions that glean data on the opinions, practices (such as dining or sleeping habits), knowledge or skills of a broad range of people. Researchers select the number and types of people questioned in hopes that the answers these individuals give will be representative of others who are their age, belong to the same ethnic group or live in the same region. (n.) The list of questions that will be offered to glean those data.

system: A network of parts that together work to achieve some function. For instance, the blood, vessels and heart are primary components of the human body’s circulatory system. Similarly, trains, platforms, tracks, roadway signals and overpasses are among the potential components of a nation’s railway system. System can even be applied to the processes or ideas that are part of some method or ordered set of procedures for getting a task done.

waste: Any materials that are left over from biological or other systems that have no value, so they can be disposed of as trash or recycled for some new use.

wavelength: The distance between one peak and the next in a series of waves, or the distance between one trough and the next. It’s also one of the “yardsticks” used to measure radiation. Visible light — which, like all electromagnetic radiation, travels in waves — includes wavelengths between about 380 nanometers (violet) and about 740 nanometers (red). Radiation with wavelengths shorter than visible light includes gamma rays, X-rays and ultraviolet light. Longer-wavelength radiation includes infrared light, microwaves and radio waves.

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