is going forward, there are several things you—and your teen—can do to get the word out about the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation.

  • Encourage school administrators to include a unit on sleep in such classes as health, biology, or driver education. The National Institutes of Health provides a free supplementary curriculum on sleep aimed at ninth- through twelfth-grade biology students. The curriculum, entitled “Sleep, Sleep Disorders, and Biological Rhythms,” is available in print form as well as online at You can also work at the county or state level to have sleep education incorporated into the health curriculum in all elementary, middle, and high schools. Offer to arrange for a sleep doctor to speak at the annual meeting of science teachers to educate those teachers and have them become sleep advocates too.

  • Encourage your teen to do a science fair project related to sleep. For example, she could track how much time friends, family members, and other students and adults sleep and how sleep duration and quality affect memory or reaction time.

  • Talk with school administrators about holding a school wellness fair that includes a display about the benefits of sufficient sleep.

  • Arrange for a sleep doctor from your community to speak to students, PTAs, or community forums.

  • Develop fact sheets and obtain permission to distribute them to individuals or groups who work with teens, such as school nurses, coaches, and police personnel.

  • Encourage your PTA to advocate for sleep deprivation awareness.

  • Help younger children become aware of the negative effects of lack of sleep by working with local youth organi-


Recently an exciting program was given the go-ahead to evaluate the effectiveness of a preventive sleep-education curriculum for middle schools. Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the Adolescent Sleep Smart Pacemaker Program will be tested with seventh graders over a three-year period. Developed by noted researcher Dr. Amy Wolfson, the eight-seminar course emphasizing the importance of sleep and good sleep habits may become the basis for integrating sleep education into our middle schools.

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