NIH Offers New Resources to Better Understand Sleep|
High School Curriculum Joins Garfield Star Sleeper Campaign As
Latest in Materials for Adolescents and Children
Ask parents about their childs sleep habits, and they are
likely to respond with a sigh or a roll of the eyes. Ask
a teenager whether he or she gets enough sleep, and youre
likely to hear a resounding No! To help parents and their children
understand and fully appreciate the importance of sleep, the National
Institutes of Healths (NIH) Office of Science Education and
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) have developed
a new supplemental curriculum for use in high school biology classes.
Sleep is as important as physical activity and healthy eating
to our overall health, safety, and performance, said Dr. Carl
E. Hunt, director of the NHLBIs National Center on Sleep Disorders
Research (NCSDR), which coordinates sleep research and sleep education
programs throughout NIH and the Federal Government. Inadequate
sleep not only makes us tired, but it can make it difficult to concentrate,
to learn, and to control our impulses and emotions.
The free curriculum, Sleep, Sleep Disorders, and Biological
Rhythms, which meets National Science Education Standards, encourages
students to explore the scientific processes of sleep, the importance
of adequate sleep, and the negative consequences of sleep deprivation.
The first step: students keep a sleep diary to study
their own sleep habits and learn about the rhythmic nature of sleepiness.
Reaching youth with messages about the importance of adequate sleep
is an educational priority of the NCSDR. Experts recommend at least
nine hours of sleep per night for adolescents as well as younger,
school-aged children. Without it, students performance in
the classroom and in after school activities can be impaired, and
their risk for sports-related and other injuries increases. In fact,
for teens behind the wheel, sleep problems can be deadly.
Young drivers, especially young men, are at high risk for
serious car crashes related to drowsy driving, Dr. Hunt notes.
Unfortunately, many teens regularly sacrifice hours of sleep
to accommodate lifes increasing demands school work,
jobs, extracurricular activities, and socializing at a time when
maturational changes delay the natural timing of feeling tired in
The new curriculum complements existing NCSDR educational programs
and materials for children and adolescents and their parents, teachers,
and healthcare providers. Among the most popular is the award-winning
Sleep Well. Do Well Star Sleeper Campaign, which is
cosponsored by Paws, Inc., and features Garfield as its spokescat.
Launched in February 2001, this campaign aims to educate children
ages 7 to 11 about the importance of getting at least nine hours
of sleep each night.
Most recently, the Star Sleeper campaign produced educational materials
on sleep for third-grade classrooms. The materials were produced
in collaboration with Time For Kids, a developer of in-school products
that is part of Time, Inc., and distributed to approximately 44,000
third-grade teachers and the 750,000 students in their classes.
Other educational tools produced by the campaign include a Garfield
Star Sleeper Fun Pad, filled with games that incorporate healthy
sleep messages and Mission Z, an interactive Web site with information
about the importance of sleep, as well as tips and resources for
parents, teachers, and pediatricians. A Garfield Star Sleeper
plush doll dressed in bunny rabbit slippers and pajamas is also
While the high school curriculum and Star Sleeper campaign materials
target youth and their parents and teachers, a Working Group on
Sleepiness and Adolescents, co-sponsored by the NCSDR and the American
Academy of Pediatrics, will soon release recommendations for pediatricians
on treating sleepiness in adolescents.
The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR), part
of the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Heart, Lung,
and Blood Institute (NHLBI), was established in 1993 through a U.S.
congressional mandate to support sleep-related research and educational
programs, and to coordinate related activities among the NIH, other
federal agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. NIH annually
funds more than $197 million in sleep-related research.