PJ 5K raises money for sleep disorders

A parade of pajama-wearing sleep advocates made their way through downtown Morgantown yesterday morning in the pursuit of research.

The second annual Pajama 5k Run/Walk began at 11 a.m. at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater, located along the Monongahela River. The Department of Psychology at West Virginia University hosted the run to raise money to support the research for children with difficulty sleeping.

A total of 42 participants showed up to the family-friendly event, ready to race in pajamas.

"This year was a huge success," said Hawley Montgomery-Downs, associate professor of psychology at WVU. "We had an even better turnout than last year, and raised about $1,500, which will go directly to prevention of sleep disorders in children."

This year, the main research focus was on obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that causes breathing to repeatedly stop during sleep. During an obstructive sleep apnea episode, the diaphragm and chest muscles work harder to open the obstructed airway and pull air into the lungs. Reducing the flow of oxygen to vital organs can be extremely dangerous, and lead to serious medical conditions.

Other sleep disorders include night terrors, insomnia and narcolepsy.

Five WVU undergraduate and graduate students from the research team worked together to organize the 3.1-mile race along the Caperton Rail Trail.

"We had phenomenal weather," said Margeaux Gray, a WVU graduate student. "It was absolutely gorgeous out. We’re really appreciative of everyone who has come out to support the race, and the research of the sleep lab. We look forward to using the proceeds to improve sleep health."

Representatives attended the race from Jazz Pharmaceuticals, an international biopharmaceutical company focused on improving patients’ lives by identifying, developing and commercializing meaningful products that address unmet medical needs.

Dr. Judi Profant, and Specialty Sales Consultant Jimmy Cunningham both participated in the race to show their support for sleep research. Cunningham, a father of a student at WVU, believes there is much to learn about sleep disorders in the world’s population.

"We chose to participate in order to help the research of sleep disorders," Cunningham said. "There is a lot of undiagnosed sleep disorders out there, and the more research that is done, the more patients can be helped."

Sleep plays a crucial role in the well-being and good health throughout an individual’s life. Often overlooked as a problematic occurrence, sleep deficiency causes damage to the minds and bodies of millions. Those who woke up and did not bother to change out of their pajamas to join in the 5k yesterday morning advocated the importance of raising awareness about sleep disorders in the community.

Participants were placed into age and gender categories, and participants with the best pajamas were awarded with a prize at the end.

Supporters of the cause, and of the pajama-wearing racers cheered on the 42 individuals crossing the finish line.

WVU students are encouraged to support the movement regarding sleep disorder research, and of course, get more sleep.

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