BCM Family
for Faculty, Staff and Trainees
Volume 6, Issue 11
November 2009

Sleep Center outreach project for teens gets recognition from Houston mayor

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Led by BCM's Anita Rao, right, students from Berry Miller Jr. High in Pearland worked with staff and faculty from BCM's Sleep Center to develop Project Siesta, which informs teens about good sleep habits.

A community outreach project related to teen sleep habits led by several local middle school students and Lata Casturi, a senior sleep technologist at the BCM Sleep Center, has been recognized by Houston Mayor Bill White.

White designated Oct. 30 Healthy Sleep Day in recognition of Project SIESTA, which was developed by the teens under the mentorship of Casturi.

Origins

The project got off the ground when seventh-grader Anita Rao chose to do a science fair project on teen sleep habits and sought the input of Casturi and Dr. Shyam Subramanian, medical director of the Sleep Center. They formulated a questionnaire for early teens focusing on sleep habits and use of electronic media close to bedtime. Results showed poor sleep habits due primarily to a technology invasion in the bedroom, and Rao drew a correlation between poor sleep and daytime alertness. She took home first prize in the Pearland school district science fair.

That led to the creation by Rao and several other youngsters of Project SIESTA, which stands for Students Involved in the Education about Sleep hygiene for Teen Adolescents. The community education campaign promotes healthy sleep habits. In addition to recognition by the city, the group was recognized by the local school board and presented findings to the Sleep Institute of the American College of Chest Physicians at its convention in San Diego, held Oct. 31 – Nov. 5.

Impact

Subramanian is proud of the students' efforts in helping instill healthier sleep habits in their peers.

"Community outreach is an integral part of our center's philosophy, and what these young kids have done is shown how a combination of imagination and inspiration coupled with hard work can effect tremendous transformation and remarkable change," Subramanian said.