Applying Typography, Layout and Design Strategies to a Text.

This week we’ve explored how professional and technical writers can use design, layout, and typography strategies to make documents easy to read and useful for their audience.

For this week’s Concept Worksheet, you’ll apply these strategies to an existing text with the end goal of making it more readable, clear, and useful for a non-specialist audience.

This worksheet is similar to the Audience Adaptation Assignment you completed in Week 3, but the focus in that assignment was on adapting the language for non-specialists. The focus here is entirely on strategies for layout, design, formatting, and typography.

Using the understanding you’ve gained from Chapters 4.3-4.5 of our textbook, apply three or more of the following strategies to the text below:

Margins, indentation, and alignment
Fonts and color
Last, write an explanation of at least 200 words explaining what changes you made to the text and how you think those changes might benefit a non-specialist audience. Your document should be 12pt, Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins, and double spaced.

Text: What Causes Sleep? There are two internal biological mechanisms that work together to regulate wakefulness and sleep referred to as circadian rhythms and sleep-wake homeostasis. Circadian rhythms direct a wide variety of body functions including wakefulness, core temperature, metabolism, and the release of hormones. They control the timing of sleep, causing a person to feel sleepy at night and creating a tendency to wake in the morning without an alarm. Circadian rhythms are based roughly on a 24-hour clock and use environmental cues, such as light and temperature to determine the time of day.

Sleep-wake homeostasis keeps track of a person’s need for sleep. A pressure to sleep builds with every hour that a person is awake, reaching a peak in the evening when most people fall asleep. The homeostatic sleep drive also regulates sleep intensity, causing a person to sleep longer and more deeply after a period of sleep deprivation. Adenosine is linked to this drive for sleep. While awake, the level of adenosine in the brain continues to rise, with increased levels signaling a shift toward sleep. While sleeping, the body breaks down adenosine. When it gets dark, the body also releases a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin signals the body that it’s time to prepare for sleep and creates a feeling of drowsiness. The amount of melatonin in the bloodstream peaks as the evening wears on. A third hormone, cortisol, is released in the early morning hours and naturally prepares the body to wake up.

Factors that influence a person’s sleep and wakefulness include medical conditions, medications, stress, sleep environment, and foods and fluids consumed, but the greatest influence is exposure to light. Specialized cells in the retina process light and provide messages to the brain to align the body clock with periods of day or night. Exposure to bright artificial light in the late evening can disrupt this process, making it hard to fall asleep. Examples of bright artificial light include the light from a TV screen, computer, or smartphone. Exposure to light can also make it difficult to return to sleep after being awakened.

Night shift workers often have trouble falling asleep when they go to bed and may have trouble staying awake at work because their natural circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle are disrupted. Jet lag also disrupts circadian rhythms. When flying to a different time zone, a mismatch is created between a person’s internal clock and the actual time of day.

The rhythm and timing of the body clock change with age. For example, teenagers fall asleep later at night than younger children and adults because melatonin is released and peaks later in the 24-hour cycle for teens. As a result, it’s natural for many teens to prefer later bedtimes at night and sleep later in the morning than adults.

Individuals also need more sleep early in life, when they’re growing and developing. For example, newborns may sleep more than 16 hours a day, and preschool-aged children need to take naps. Young children tend to sleep more in the early evening, whereas older adults tend to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.

Sleep Phases and Stages. When sleeping, individuals cycle through two phases of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. A full sleep cycle takes 80 to 100 minutes to complete, and most people typically cycle through four to six cycles per night. It is common to wake up briefly between cycles.

Restoration takes place mostly during slow wave, non-REM sleep, during which the body’s temperature, heart rate, and brain oxygen consumption decrease. Brain activity decreases, so this stage is also referred to as slow-wave sleep and is observed during sleep studies. Non-REM sleep has these three stages:

Stage 1: The transition between wakefulness and sleep. Stage 2: The initiation of the sleep phase. Stage 3: The deep sleep or slow-wave sleep stage is based on a pattern that appears during measurements of brain activity. Individuals spend the most amount of sleep time in this stage during the early part of the night. (Note that the previously considered 4th stage of non-REM sleep is now included within Stage 3).

During REM sleep, a person’s heart rate and respiratory rate increase. Eyes twitch as they rapidly move back and forth, and the brain is active. Brain activity measured during REM sleep is similar to activity during waking hours. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep, and muscles normally become limp to prevent acting out one’s dreams. People typically experience more REM sleep as the night progresses. However, hot and cold environments can affect a person’s REM sleep because the body does not regulate temperature well during REM sleep.

The patterns and types of sleep change as people mature. For example, newborns spend more time in REM sleep. The amount of slow-wave sleep peaks in early childhood and then drops sharply in the teenage years. Slow-wave sleep continues to decrease through adulthood, and older people may not have any slow-wave sleep at all.

Why Is sleep important? Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times protects mental health and physical health. Lack of sleep affects daytime performance, quality of life, and safety. The way a person feels while awake depends on what happens while they are sleeping. During sleep, the body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

Healthy Brain Function and Emotional Well-Being. Sleep helps the brain work properly. While sleeping, the brain is forming new pathways to help a person learn and remember information. Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps a person pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. Conversely, sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain, causing difficulty in making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.

Physical Health. Sleep also plays an important role in physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repairing the heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that cause hunger (ghrelin) or a feeling of fullness (leptin). When a person doesn’t get enough sleep, the level of ghrelin increases and the level of leptin decreases, causing a person to feel hungry when sleep deprived. The way the body responds to insulin is also affected, causing increased blood sugar.

Sleep supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release hormones that promote normal growth in children and teens. These hormones also boost muscle mass and help repair cells and tissues.

-Text adapted from Nursing Fundamentals under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License,Links to an external site. which allows remixing, transforming, and building upon the original.


Open Resources for Nursing (Open RN). (n.d.). Sleep and Rest, Basic Concepts. In K. Ernstmeyer & E. Christman (Eds.), Nursing Fundamentals. Chippewa Valley Technical College. to an external site.

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