Tuesday, March 20, 2012

National Sleep Awareness Week 2012

In case you didn't already know,  the week of March 5-11th was the National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) National Sleep Awareness Week (NSAW), an annual week dedicated to promoting the importance of sleep.  The week intentionally falls before Daylight Savings Time, when Americans have to advance their clocks forward one hour and lose that sleep time. It's common to hear people complaining about Daylight Savings and the adjustment in their sleep schedules, which proves to be a perfect time to talk about maintaining a healthy sleep schedule for the other 364 days of the year (well since it's a Leap Year, it'd be 365 this year). Across the nation, events were held to educate everyone young and old on good sleep hygiene, the process of sleep and cycles involved, and of course various sleep disorders and their symptoms. The NSF even sponsors community events, providing sleep screening to the public.

The Saturday of this week was of particular interest to me; Suddenly Sleepy Saturday is (unofficially) referred to as Narcolepsy Awareness Day. This year the date of Suddenly Sleepy Saturday was March 10th, which also happened to be my 18th birthday! With a pretty big milestone birthday, a full year of starting to find relief from my narcaplexy with medications, and Narcolepsy Awareness Day all at this time, I had a lot to celebrate that day.

Across the country on March 10th, Suddenly Sleepy Saturday was celebrated in the only way that makes sense: by raising awareness for narcolepsy. Sleep Walks, events that were supported by the organization Wake Up Narcolepsy, were held in Washington D.C., Chicago, and Sacramento, and this year had a great turn out of participants! REM Runner blogger Julie Flygare (and my role model!) was an organizer of the event in Washington D.C. where media representatives received awards for their work with narcolepsy coverage in 2011 and a good-sized crowd of participants walked and danced their way around the National Mall. Be sure to check out Julie's blog post, When Dreams Come True - SLEEP WALK 2012, for pictures and details about the fun everyone had at Washington D.C,'s Sleep Walk 2012!

Count 'em, 18 candles! :)
Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend one of these events as my family and friends threw me a 'surprise' birthday party. But to everyone who did attend a Sleep Walk or any other narcolepsy awareness event on March 10th, I personally thank you for showing your support and speaking up for everyone dealing with narcolepsy, with or without cataplexy. Your efforts mean so much to me and the rest of the narcolepsy community!

I did what I could from right here in Toledo and posted awareness information on my Facebook and wore my Narcolepsy Network button proudly. My mom knew how excited I was for this celebration coincidence and how important narcolepsy advocacy is to me, so at my party she surprised me with a platter of narcolepsy awareness cookies! I think these might be my new favorite kind of cookie :)
My Narcolepsy Awareness birthday cookies... Thanks Mom! :)
Black ribbons are the awareness ribbon color for narcolepsy.
  The Narcolepsy Network  logo: the blue side is sleep, the orange side is all levels of wakefulness, and the inner circle represents the intermingling the two.   
My best friend Hayden and her sister Gracie with me at my birthday party :)