Directors: Antonio M. Battro and Kurt W. Fischer
Program officer: María Lourdes Majdalani
Parent-teacher discussions on sleep in adolescents in Dekalb County, Georgia
Through a program sponsored by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) Education and Public Outreach Program (EPOP), we have been working with teachers and parents of the Dekalb County School System in Georgia to: 1) educate middle school teachers and parents about the importance of sleep hygiene for academic performance and general health and, 2) engage teachers in sustained professional development programs that broaden their science knowledge base, sharpen their pedagogical skills, and infuse their classroom lessons with space-based curricular supplements. NSBRI EPOP initiatives are designed to train scientists and to communicate the significance of space exploration science to schools, families and lay audiences. To accomplish these goals, the NSBRI group at Morehouse School of Medicine has held a series of parent-teacher institutes on sleep science featuring comprehensive series of speakers, workshops, sleep surveys, and activities. Our primary focus has been to expose middle school parents and teachers to contemporary models of sleep-wake regulation. During the workshops we present and review the most current research on the impact of sleep loss and sleep disorders in adolescents on development, cognition, and risk assessment. We then promote strategies for recognizing sleep disorders and prioritizing sleep hygiene in adolescents and their parents. The institutes have resulted in the integration of sleep education into the curriculum of several Dekalb County Middle Schools and in the development of high school career training programs.