Sweet Dreams …
Jennifer Frey wants to make a difference in people lives. Whether she’s helping a young girl secure a beautiful dress and accessories for prom through the Junior League of Scranton’s program, Cinderella’s Closet, or helping people in The 570 diagnose their sleeping troubles at The Sleep Disorder Center, Frey wants to make an impact in her adopted community. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and transplanted from Los Angeles, Calif., the downtown Scranton resident is the director of sales and marketing and physicians relations at The Sleep Disorder Center and is in her second year as a member of The Junior League. After graduating from Penn State University, Frey moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, a career that she says featured “100,000 blink and you miss me” scenes. Missing the change of seasons and wanting to be closer to her family (which had relocated to the Scranton area), she found herself in The Electric City. She’s here to lend a helping hand or to help you catch some zzz’s. Meet Jennifer Frey…
What careers appealed to you while growing up?
I saw myself as a teacher or an actress; those were the two things I always wanted to do. They seemed to overlap. Any phenomenal teacher I ever had was dramatic and entertained the pupils. If you didn’t enjoy what you were doing and couldn’t put on a show, no one would listen to you. I did substitute teach while I was in Los Angeles. An acting career seemed like such a big dream to me, but unrealistic. I always wanted to move to California and see where the magic happened. I knew if I didn’t try, it would have been a huge regret, so I did and had amazing experiences. I came back for a life hiatus, and as life sometimes happens, opportunities came to me and I took them.
Tell us about your work at the sleep center.
The Sleep Disorder Center is an independently owned, non-hospital affiliated sleep center. We test and diagnose multiple sleep disorders; the main ones we see are sleep apnea, central and obstructed, and narcolepsy. It’s unbelievably prevalent in the area and a lot of that has to do with obesity, because the larger you are, the thicker your neck is and the more soft tissue you have. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but everyone who has sleep apnea snores. We then direct the correct course of action for treatment. There is no cure for sleep apnea, but there is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which is a mask that takes air out of the room to stop moments where you are having apnea. Narcolepsy, even though it’s been (spoken about with humor), is really very serious. People fall through their stages of sleep very quickly. Instead of the normal person taking 90 minutes to get to R.E.M., people can be wide awake, put their head on a pillow and be in R.E.M. It becomes dangerous when people are driving or at their desk.
What are some of the common problems you come across?
Obesity, unhealthy living and something we call sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is what you do previous to your sleep time. Many people will take laptops to bed with them or watch television. None of that is recommended. Your bed should be for intimacy and sleep. Anything you are doing to stimulate your brain before sleep is not helping you fall into your stages quickly. People suffer from insomnia; it’s anxiety related, occasionally pain related, or they are on antidepressants. One in every three people has a type of sleep disorder sometime in his or her life. That’s pretty high when you think about how important sleep is.
What role does sleep play in our lives?
The average American should get six to eight hours of sleep. Some people can function really well on six; some people need that eight. If people tell you they “sleep four hours a day and they are fine,” they are not. After oxygen, sleep is even more important than food. After two days, sleep deprivation can cause neurological disorders and massive headaches. It’s strange that people take sleep for granted. I run into people who have been sleeping on the same mattress for 40 years and are terribly uncomfortable. Drinking alcohol affects your sleep. Any type of substance you are on is going to keep you from getting into a truly restorative sleep.
What do you say to someone with a sleep problem, but is wary of being studied?
It depends on what the problem is and how long it’s been lasting. If you can’t sleep due to a trauma in your life, it’s more about talking to a therapist to work through it and go back to sleep. If it is a physical problem, snoring, flailing, you should mention it to your physician and have a sleep study. It’s the most benign test you will ever take; there is no medication and it’s not painful. The worst I can say about is that it is odd. You are connected to an EEG that measures your neurology, your respiration, your heart rate and muscle movement. If you had restless leg syndrome or periodic limb movement, then you see the results when you sleep. Everyone thinks they know what happens to them when they sleep, but they don’t.
Switching gears, talk about your involvement with Cinderella’s Closet.
The Junior League exists in many cities throughout the U.S. The Scranton Junior League is made up of a group of women who believe in helping the community and helping other women. Cinderella’s Closet was created by the Junior League and it is a unique boutique. It is the tenth anniversary and will be held at the Scranton Cultural Center on April 10. We collect dresses throughout the year. Some are donated from boutiques in the area; some are gently worn; all are dry cleaned. We create a boutique environment on the 4th floor. There are dressing rooms and racks of dresses, shoes, purses and accessories. Nothing is over $10. You can come and get an amazing dress that maybe you would be unable to afford for your prom or formal, and hopefully not be financially burdened.
How did you become involved?
This is my second year in the Junior League. I was looking for a way to give something back. I like the idea of women working together. Its women who own businesses or work for other companies, teachers, lawyers, doctors who like to volunteer their time. It has helped me learn my community better.
How has volunteering changed you?
It opened me up to a group of people I would have not normally met. You find the certain type of people that you always find wherever you live, people you share likes with. It was easy for me to find an artistic community here of people I enjoy spending time with, but that is just a small sect of what exists.
— tom graham
The Junior League of Scranton’s 10th annual Cinderella’s Closet will be held on Wednesday, April 10, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Scranton Cultural Center. For more information about the Junior League of Scranton’s Cinderella’s Closet, including donation locations, visit www.juniorleagueofscranton.org. For questions about the Sleep Disorder Center, visit www.thesleepdisordercenter.org or email email@example.com.