Broadcast news agencies love using stories about the importance of sleep to fill space on slow news days. The little 30-second blurbs always say pretty much the same thing from one station to the next: Sleep affects people’s weight; It impacts overall health and people’s performance at school and work. The problem with these stories is that they never go into any real depth about the relation between sleep and said issues. Now thanks to PBS, audiences are getting a deeper look into the mechanics of sleep in a new episode of its hit science-based series NOVA, Mysteries of Sleep. Released May 19 on DVD, this episode of NOVA delves into how the brain works both with and without sleep, and why sleep is so important for everyone. That aspect forms the foundation for this episode. The transitions that are used throughout the program play their own part to the program’s presentation and will be discussed a little later. The program’s pricing rounds out its most important elements, considering the content and way in which that content was presented. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD. All things considered, no mystery is left why this documentary will engage and entertain audiences. As a matter of fact, it will do anything but put audiences to sleep. Yes, those awful puns were wholly intentional.
PBS’s NOVA documentary Mysteries of Sleep is an intriguing investigation into the connection between sleep and its impact on the brain’s operation. This investigation forms the foundation for this episode of NOVA. Throughout the course of the roughly 53-minute program, the investigation shows the impact of sleep on the brain in different fashions. Audiences see the impact of sleep on memory in one case, using the developing mind of children for the example in this discussion. In this case children who had naps immediately after taking part in a memory exercise did better remembering words and toys from the exercise than children who either waited to take a nap or did not take a nap at all. Another way in which the connection between sleep and mental health was examined was an exercise involving rats. Rats were subjected to brief electric shocks after hearing an equally brief high pitched tone. The purpose of the study was to discover the impact of sleep on people with post traumatic stress disorder. The result of the study was that the rats who slept immediately after the shocks actually responded better to hearing the high-pitched tones than the rats who stayed awake. The scientists who conducted the study admitted they did not like going that route in using the rodents, but it helped to understand how perhaps humans suffering from PTSD might actually benefit from having more sleep. It is an interesting concept. It’s just one more of the ways in which the program keeps audiences engaged in the program’s overall examination of the impact of sleep on the brain. In yet another case, audiences learn that the brain does not necessarily go just through a REM sleep and deep sleep phase, but rather multiple instances of each phase throughout the course of the night, adding that the reams we have at night could in fact be the subconscious’ way of addressing thoughts and concerns that we have during the day. Given, that is not exactly a groundbreaking statement. This is something that has been known for some time. However, the firsthand interview that is presented to drive home the statement gives the discussion more grounding. Between this discussion, the others addressed here and the others not noted but that are presented in the program, the overall content in this presentation makes it one that puts those little TV news blurbs completely to shame and keeps viewers completely engaged from beginning to end.
While the content featured in NOVA: Mysteries of Sleep ensures audiences will not themselves fall asleep, the program’s transitions do their own part to keep audiences engaged, too. As the various topics addressed throughout the course of the program are addressed, the transitions between those topics remain smooth. From talking about the reality that the brain is actually quite active during sleep early on to the eventual discussion on what exactly is sleep to the examination of how sleep might help people suffering from PTSD recover to how sleep impacts memory, the program manages to smoothly transition from one item to another seamlessly. Early on, that noted transition on the discussion of the brain’s activity during sleep and what is sleep, is bolstered by in-depth examinations of what the brain does during each stage of sleep and the different stages of sleep. This helps audiences understand each concept while forming the foundation for the bigger program. As the program progresses from the discussion on how sleep impacts memory, it moves just as smoothly by turning the attention on discussions of ways people can better get sleep. That transition and discussion ensure audiences’ engagement just as much. Eventually the program transitions to its final discussion in which it is stressed that we as living beings need sleep and why. It points out the negative impact of lack of sleep and transitions from there to hope for people who can’t get the best sleep by examining possible therapies for those people. Eventually, the program reaches its finale in which the statement is made that sleep is important for everything that we do and we must protect our sleep. A lot has been noted here. The big and small of things here is that the program’s transitions are solid from the program’s start to end. Those transitions, together with the program’s content, fully insure audiences’ engagement and entertainment from beginning to end. Keeping all of this in mind, the program’s average price point proves to be money well-spent.
The average price point for NOVA: Mysteries of Sleep is $19.84. That price is obtained by collecting price listings from Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store. PBS’ price listing is just barely above that point, listing the DVD at $19.99, while Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million are both well above that average at listings of $22.49 and $24.99 respectively. Amazon and Walmart offer the DVD at the lowest price, $17.70. Target and Best Buy are just above that listing, at $17.99 each. What should be noted here is that the majority of the retailers list the DVD at a price that is just below the $20 mark. In other words, it is largely being listed at a relatively affordable price that will not break anyone’s budget. In fact, that is about on par with the price range for most normal DVD listings, save for the listings at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million. To that point, the money that audiences will pay for this DVD is affordable and well-spent considering the content featured herein and the depth of said content. Keeping all of this in mind, NOVA: Mysteries of Sleep becomes a presentation that will appeal as much to average audiences just as much as to students studying neuroscience and those scientists already studying the concept of sleep. It is a presentation that will do anything but put audiences to sleep. It is available now. More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:
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