Updated February 3, 1999

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Do your teenagers need this bill?

On June 24, 1998, House Resolution 4131 called the "Z's to A's Act," was introduced by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).The Z's to A's Act encourages school districts to move their starting times to 9am for secondary schools by providing a grant of up to $25,000 to help with the costs involved in shifting the school start time. The purpose of this bill is to address the effects of sleep deprivation on students' performance and safety.

Many teenagers attend classes and participate in after school functions where they are impaired by chronic sleep deprivation. The sleepiness they experience has a profound effect on their school work, their health, safety, and productivity. Research has shown that older adolescents require about 9 hours of sleep to be alert during the day. Many secondary schools in America start between 7:30-8:30 am. Students frequently fall asleep in their morning classes or while performing other duties, such as driving. As a result, many school districts across the nation are asking if students and taxpayers are best served by early starting times.

Source: National Sleep Foundation's President's Circle Update, Summer Issue, 1998

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On MARCH 25, 1998, a House Concurrent Resolution 250 was introduced by Congressman John Dingell and 10 co-sponsors, which encouraged better use of existing research on sleep by federal and state authorities for better education and training; calls for Congressional support of any additional research needed to address sleep disorders; facilitates better diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders by health professionals; and supports improved efforts to help researchers, accident investigators and law enforcement officials so that transportation and workplace accidents can be reduced.

The 10 co-sponsors are: Rick Boucher (D-VA), Tom Campbell (R-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), John LaFalce (D-NY), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Joseph McDade (R-PA), James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH) and Fred Upton (R-MI).

If your congressperson was a co-sponsor, please call or fax your Representative and thank them for supporting this resolution!

On MARCH 26, 1998, there was a HEARING of the Health & Environment Subcommittee at10:30am (Press conference at 9:45am) at 2123 Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The hard work of a few sleep activists has paid off. Dr. William Dement testified on The Current Status of Sleep Disorders in America the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.

"New Developments in Medical Research: NIH & Patient Groups"

Panel 1 - Introduction (re: Parkinson's Disease)

  1. Muhammad Ali, former heavyweight champion
    National Parkinson Foundation

  2. Abraham Lieberman, M.D.
    Executive Director, Muhammad Ali Center
    Medical Director, National Parkinson Foundation, Inc.

Panel 2 - Members of Congress

  1. Rep. Billy Tauzin / Ataxia
  2. Rep. Nancy Johnson / Lyme Disease
  3. Rep. Peter DeFazio / Alternative Therapies
  4. Rep. Jon Fox / Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Panel 3 - National Institutes of Health

  1. Dr. Varmus

Panel 4 - Important Diseases

  1. Alzheimer's Disease
    Rear Admiral Donald "Mack" Showers, USN (Ret)

  2. Alternative Therapies
    Former Congressman Berkley Bedell

  3. LAM
    (female fatal lung disease)
    Sue Byrnes
    The LAM Foundation

  4. Sickle Cell Anemia
    Dr. Michael Wilburn

  5. Sleep Disorders
    Dr. William Dement
    (per special request by Reps. John Dingell, Sherrod Brown and Anna Eshoo)

  6. Ataxia
    Rep. Bill Tauzin

  7. Testing Newborns for Hearing Loss
    Ray McGrath (Former Congressman)

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WHAT'S IN THE WORKS? (November 1997)

This year, Congressional Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), was appointed to the Health and Environment Subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee. This is the Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over the National Institute of Health (NIH), as well as a host of other health areas. (For years, its chairman was Congressman Henry Waxman who has been very well known in health research circles.) Anna Eshoo is very supportive of our cause, and she is very interested in health issues in general. Anna has said, "This subcommittee is finally where I truly belong."


Wake Up America is trying to develop a very focused initiative. The major problem is still ignorance and lack of awareness. Dr. Dement has been lobbying with Claude L'Enfant, head of National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), in which the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) is housed. He says we really have sort of been pounding on L'Enfant, asking why isn't more being done. L'Enfant's answer is he doesn't have any money or he has very little money, and you have to use your money in certain specific ways. If it is research money, you can't do education. And the pot they get, he says, for out of which education expenses must be paid, is also the administrative pot and congress has been cutting it regularly. So what we are going to try to do is have congress and/or Harold Varmis, the director of the NIH, split that budget into a line item budget for education and the remainder is for administration.


Dr. William Dement has met with Anna Eshoo several times and believes she is interested in exercising a leadership strategy in four areas:

Anna sees great merit in being able to help members of Congress and their staff deal with sleep disorders, and also the likelihood that grateful members would support sleep research and increased public and professional awareness.


You can show your support of these developments by writing your representatives; meeting with your representative to talk about how they can support sleep disorders research and education; writing to key members of the committees listed below. There is a LOT you can do to support our cause. Your representatives and congressmen are there for YOU! -- Don't be afraid - you have to tell them your needs and wishes and how they can help support sleep disorders. Even ONE letter can make an impact. A lot of letters from different people about sleep disorders can make an even greater impact! So do not delay -- take some action today!


Dr. Frankie Roman is working very hard with a member that is in his district - Sherrod Brown (D-OH) who is the ranking member in the committee.

We're all pointing to one fellow - Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), who is the chairman of the committee. He is a key person to target.


If we need appropriations into the specific line item budget, the Appropriations Subcommittee is the committee to target and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is the person to target.

Local A.W.A.K.E. groups should turn out several hundred people if we create an event for Anna Eshoo (D-CA).

We also have a sleep clinic up in San Francisco and we should start mobilizing patients up there and keeping track of influential patients, as we are starting to try to do in our clinic. So if we don't do it this year, we should be in a super position to do it next year.


Have you been treated unfairly in the diagnosis and treatment of your sleep disorder? Are you grateful to have your energy and life back? Use your energy and anger constructively and volunteer in your support group, write letters, become and advocate for sleep disorders. We NEED you!

Unfortunately, volunteerism is usually very poor and people don't come through for us.  If everyone would volunteer for even ONE event a year, it could make a big impact on sleep disorder research. YOU can make things better for your children, your grandchildren, other family members and friends in the importance of sleep disorders research and education.

The thing we ought to do is try to get everybody (all AWAKE groups) to keep track of people with influence, who could make a difference; is a little more known than the average person; a bit more of a celebrity, where a letter to Nancy Pelosi or other key members of the committees would likely to be more noticeable.

If you would like to help in the effort to split the NIH budget into a line item budget for education, the remainder for administration, please write to any member of the committee who represents you and key members of the committees listed below and ask for their support of sleep disorders research and education.

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Find the address of your representative


Read a sample letter to assist you in acting quickly on initiatives.

American Sleep Disorders Association (ASDA)
6301 Bandel Road
Suite 101
Rochester, MN 55901
Switchboard: (507) 287-6006
Fax: (507) 287-6008
E-mail: asda@asda.org
Internet address: http://www.asda.org

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Dale Dirks, President
507 Capitol Court, N.E.
Suite 200
Washington, D.C. 20002
Tel: (202) 544-7499
Fax: (202) 546-7105
E-Mail: ddirks@aol.com

The Health and Medicine Counsel of Washington D.C. is an organization that lobbies for health and medicine organizations and keeps them up-to-date on what is going on with legislation concerning health and medicine.


Please note: Information is often taken directly from the faxes that we receive. There may consequently be some mistakes. If you see a mistake, please E-mail: Nodmaster. We welcome your comments, suggestions, or notification of a sleep related event or sleep activist information.

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