By Lauren SaslowSleepwalklogo

The world has become a fast-paced society often rewarding those willing to work long, exhaustive hours. The symptoms of sleep deprivation can actually decrease employees’ productivity, as well as their quality of life. Unfortunately, there is a minority of people who continue to feel sleepy throughout the day despite a full eight hours of rest each night. They are the ones who may be suffering from a sleep disorder.

When Julie Flygare discovered she had a sleep disorder while pursuing her law degree, she vowed to help others feel less alone in their struggle. Flygare founded Project Sleep, a not-for-profit organization aimed at raising awareness for sleep health and sleep disorders.

One of Project Sleep’s campaigns is the Sleep Walk Series. Last year, the first ever Sleep Walk Tampa Bay (SWTB) attracted 75 participants. Hosted by the TradeWinds Island Resort on St. Pete Beach, the event was designed to coincide with the annual Current Concepts in Sleep conference at the same location. Many of the conference participants attended the walk last year, and are encouraged to join again this year.

The conference and Second Annual SWTB will occur in the same location during the Labor Day weekend, though the organizers have changed hands as five local hospitals rotate responsibility. All Children’s Hospital (ACH) is organizing not only the conference, but also the Sleep Walk this year. Pediatric Polysomnographic (PSG) Technologist, Nicole Sondermann, from ACH has volunteered to plan and coordinate the walk with the support of the hospital administration.

Jessica Davenport, last year’s event coordinator for Sleep Walk Tampa Bay, said, “Last year it was so amazing to see so many people with Narcolepsy connect with others with the same disorder face to face, many for the first times in their lives. The drive is definitely worth it.”

The one-mile beach walk is open to the public and for only a $5 suggested donation is an inexpensive activity for the whole family over the holiday weekend. Sleep Walk Tampa Bay is scheduled for Saturday, September 5 from 5–8 p.m. at 5500 Gulf Blvd., in St. Pete Beach (at the Sea Breeze Terrace).

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