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National Child Sleep Expert to Visit Portland

February 17, 2006  

Richard Ferber, MD, referred to by many parents as the "Dr. Spock of Sleep", is coming to Portland to keynote the state's first-ever conference on diagnosing and treating sleep disorders among both children and adults on March 3 at Maine Medical Center.

Ferber's best-selling 1985 book, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, called for parents to let their babies cry in their cribs so they could learn to sleep on their own.  Ferber has recently revised his book, to be re-released later this spring, and the big news is that he is "softening" his approach to dealing with cranky babies, revealing in a recent Wall Street Journal interview that his method "wasn't meant to be the way to solve all sleep problems."

A Harvard Medical School professor, Ferber runs the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital in Boston.  He has authored hundreds of professional articles on sleep disorders and lectures internationally on the subject.  Over the years his influence spawned the term "Ferberized" as synonymous with peaceful bedtimes for babies and young children.

Ferber's keynote address at the Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Disorders conference will kick off a day-long series of in-depth presentations by Maine medical experts on topics such as sleep apnea, sleep and ADHD and ADD, insomnia, circadian rhythms, and breathing disorders.

The conference is sponsored by the MaineHealth Sleep Disorder Network, which represents sleep diagnostic and treatment centers in southern and central Maine including St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford, LincolnHealth – Miles Campus in Damariscotta, MidCoast Hospital in Brunswick, MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta and Waterville, and Maine Medical Center in Portland.  The Network promotes awareness of sleep problems and quality in sleep treatment services. 

The March 3rd conference is this year's official kickoff for Maine Sleep Awareness Month, which highlights the rapidly growing problem of sleep disorders among adults and children. 

Nationally, more than 60% of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more.  Sleep-related fatigue contributes to more than 100,000 police-reported highway crashes, causing more than 70,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths annually.  Studies show that children ages 5 through 12 need at least 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night, or risk poor academic performance.

Tips to help get a good night's sleep include going to bed at the same time each night, having a light snack or a warm glass of milk before bedtime, and taking the TV or video games out of the bedroom.

For more information about the March 3rd conference or about the prevention and treatment of sleep disorders, contact the MaineHealth Learning Resource Center at (207) 396-8570 or by email:

MaineHealth is a family of healthcare provider organizations, including Maine Medical Center and Spring Harbor Hospital, eight community hospitals, home health, physician practices, NorDx laboratories, and others, serving the ten counties of southern, central, and western Maine

For more information:

    Rhonda Lamb, Director
    Learning Resource Centers

    John Murray, Director
    Maine Medical Center Sleep Institute    662-4535




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