When: March 7 – 13
What: Falling asleep in class and finding it hard to concentrate on studies may indicate that your teen is suffering from chronic drowsiness. Biology may be to blame, as teenagers need more sleep than the recommended seven to nine hours. But practicing healthy sleeping habits isn’t only for teens – whether you’re young or old, everyone can learn how to sleep better during National Sleep Awareness Week, observed March 7-13.
Background: Sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Awareness Week promotes the importance of sleep and healthy sleeping habits. It takes place in the week leading up to the start of daylight saving time, when the clocks leap ahead.
Story Pitch: Schools can take this opportunity to teach students about healthy sleeping habits, as can community groups and assisted living centers for the elderly. Employers can remind their staff of the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Activities based around this week can include sleep education programs and sleep disorder screening opportunities.
The Story Hook: According to a recent article at NJ.com, the sales of prescription sleep aids are a multi-million dollar business. Citing Susan Zafarlotfi, clinical director for Sleep-Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center, the article reports that due to economic worries, more people are experiencing insomnia now than after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Consider the following questions when making your pitch:
- Are there new, innovative treatments or products for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and snoring?
- How do sleep habits and needs change as we age? Do teenagers really need more sleep? Should older adults be concerned if they don’t sleep as long as they used to?
- Some companies, including Google, have installed “nap rooms” to allow employees to recharge during the day. Can napping be a part of healthy sleep habits?
- What are the health effects, positive and negative, of caffeinated beverages? How can people limit their intake and prevent caffeine withdrawal symptoms?
- How do changes like the arrival of daylight saving time or travel over time zones affect the body?
- Why are some people early birds, while others tend to be night owls?
Tips: When making your pitch, provide contact information for a sleep expert or someone who has adapted his or her sleeping habits for a healthier lifestyle.
Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine
NIH: National Center on Sleep Disorders Research
National Sleep Foundation
–Researched, compiled & written by Lisa Rowan
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