Local company discusses sleeping right on ‘Dr. Oz’

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published March 30, 2016

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FARMINGTON — Getting a good night’s sleep is creating a lot of buzz in Farmington and beyond.

Representatives from the local nonprofit organization Sweet Dreamzzz Inc. recently met up with Mehmet Oz from the “Dr. Oz” show to discuss the fundamentals of getting enough zzz’s for students to maintain their As and Bs.

Sweet Dreamzzz Inc. Executive Director Nancy Maxwell said recently that she is looking forward to the show airing soon.

“The main thing is that the message that we have been sharing for the last 16 years is finally being recognized on a national basis, and that is very exciting for us,” she said. “The importance of sleep and sleep routine, and all the things that go along with that for a healthy mind, body and solid education, is being recognized nationally.”

The Farmington nonprofit organization began after Kathleen Donnelly read a 1996 newspaper article about an inner-city boy living and sleeping under his coat in a burned-out house. 

Donnelly and her family and friends pooled together resources for the boy and his mother, according to the nonprofit’s website. This was the start of Sweet Dreamzzz Inc.

Sweet Dreamzzz was recently a part of a pop-up sleep clinic in Harlem hosted by the Huffington Post and the “Dr. Oz” show.  

Arianna Huffington is the co-founder, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, and author of “The Sleep Revolution.”

Maxwell added that the experience was great.

“I’ve never seen anything being filmed like that,” she said. “They (Dr. Oz production staff) pretty much started filming when we walked into the door.”

Maxwell said she knew that Huffington was “very committed” to the importance of sleep.

“She ended up appreciating and understanding the importance of sleep,” she said, adding that her nonprofit organization has written a couple of articles for the Huffington Post blog on sleep.

“Shortly after that, the editor contacted me,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said Sweet Dreamzzz officials had some programs rolled out in New York before, and they were very comfortable bringing the program back.

“We had 300 attendees from the Harlem area,” she said, adding that several kindergarten through fifth-grade students participate on the show in a Harlem school.

“The majority of our day was spent discussing with adults the importance of sleep and routines for themselves and their families,” Maxwell said.

Good sleep habits for preschoolers include getting about 13 hours of sleep a night.

“If they have to get up at 7 a.m., they should be in bed before 8 p.m., and if they get a nap in there too, great,” Maxwell said.

Sweet Dreamzzz also trains teachers, students and parents through sleep education workshops. Parents learn how many hours of sleep their children need and why, and what behaviors to look out for with sleep-deprived children.

“We meet the parents at that level, so we want to catch any issues they are having early in order to keep their education going on the education trajectory as it should be,” Maxwell said.

Garden City Hospital Sleep Disorders Center Director Carol Bielaniec has worked with Sweet Dreamzzz for about 10 years, and she went to New York for the show.

“It turns out Sweet Dreamzzz was almost featured,” Bielaniec said. “They had given us a lot of space, and Dr. Oz and Arianna Huffington both got down on the floor with the kids. They definitely are taken with the program.”

Bielaniec added that sleeplessness manifests itself in the classroom.

“A lot of them (students) can’t sit still,” she said. “A lot of times, a sleep disorder could be misdiagnosed as something else. It is really important to educate the parents as well as the children.”

Check your local listings for the show scheduled to be aired in April.

For more information, go to www.sweetdreamzzz.org.