3MT 2022 Finalist Pamela Mellon

Pamela Mellon

School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences

ABC's...and also zzzz's: How School Communities Can Help Students Get Enough Sleep

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Introduce yourself...

My name is Pamela Mellon, I am completing my MSc Health Promotion and Socio-behavioural Sciences with the School of Public Health. I previously worked as a Health Promotion Facilitator with Alberta Health Services in Fort McMurray after the 2016 wildfire. I had the privilege of delivering presentations about sleep to junior high and high school students, where I learned how many students were sleep deprived. I am the youngest of seven children and the aunty of nine, soon to be 10, nieces and nephews. I am also a Girl Guide Leader and a dog mom. I grew up playing soccer and I helped coach under 12 competitive soccer. I love being connected to a community in the way I was to Fort McMurray while working for Alberta Health Services. Now that my masters program is nearly complete, my dog is almost two, and COVID-19 restrictions have decreased, I look forward to being more involved in the community again.

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

I am researching how school communities can help students have healthy sleep habits, also known as school-based sleep promotion. I hope my research helps supports schools, teachers and families learn and practice healthy sleep behaviours, leading to lower rates of childhood anxiety, depression, obesity, diabetes, and other negative consequences associated with poor sleep.

How did presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help explain your research to the public?

3MT is a great platform to help my research reach more than schools. I hope my 3MT plays a small part in shifting societal perspective on sleep. Sleep should be considered part of a healthy lifestyle, the same way we view healthy eating and physical activity.

What inspires you to do research?

I came across Dr. Kate Storey’s work, my supervisor, when I was doing sleep presentations in Fort McMurray schools. I reached out to her, as I had so many questions about best practice for improving students sleep behaviours. The questions I had weren’t able to be answered by research at that time. I always planned on doing a masters, so I decided that this would be my masters research focus. I would answer these questions. I now have so many more questions, but I am very excited by the journey and the potential of my research.
School communities inspire me, they are resilient and teachers care so much about their students. I have met some incredible teachers, who aren’t willing to accept the status quo. Some of the teachers I interviewed do everything in their power to remove barriers to students success. Inadequate sleep is one of those barriers.

What are three keywords important to your 3MT?

Sleep, Schools, Students

How does your research impact local, provincial, or global communities at large?

My research has impact for local, provincial, and global communities, as schools are a critical setting for child development. Improved school-based sleep promotion directly benefits students and can also support teachers, families, and our health system. Improved healthy sleep for children can decrease the burden of disease on the healthcare system and would help more children enjoy learning, achieve their potential, and live healthy lives.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future—who would it be and why?

My niece and nephews, as well as my future children. I hope they live in a world where there is less illness and injury. A world where there is less burden of disease on the healthcare system. A world where we are kinder to each other because we got a good night sleep.

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Watch Pamela's Three Minute Thesis