Episode 40: What is Normal Sleep?
Is it really normal to sleep for 8 hours undisturbed each night, or is that just an unrealistic expectation? We talk to Darian Leader, author of Why Can’t we Sleep? about how people have slept throughout history and how many of our expectations about sleep are driven by social fads.
Dr Moira Junge (Health Psychologist) and Dr David Cunnington (Sleep Physician) host the monthly podcast, Sleep Talk, talking all things sleep.
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Audio Timeline / Chapters:
00:00 – 02:48 Introduction
- 02:48 – 26:21 Theme – What is Normal Sleep?
- 26:21 – 27:17 Clinical Tip
- 27:17 – 29:20 Pick of the Month
- 29:20 – 30:25 What’s Coming Up?
Next episode: When we eat
Links mentioned in the podcast:
- Article on use of screening questionnaires to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea
- Commentary on use of screening questionnaires to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea
- Darian Leader
- Why Can’t We Sleep? – Book by Darian Leader
- Meta-analysis on insomnia and mortality from Sleep Medicine Review journal
- Podcast episode on Sleep Around the World
- Inter-individual differences in sensitivity to light – journal article
- Scriptwise resource
Darian Leader is a psychoanalyst working in London and a member of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research and of The College of Psychoanalysts-UK. He is the author of several books including: ‘Why do women write more letters than they post?’; ‘Freud’s Footnotes’; ‘Stealing the Mona Lisa: What Art Stops Us From Seeing’; ‘Why do people get ill?’ (with David Corfield) , ‘The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia and Depression’, ‘What is Madness?’ , ‘Strictly Bipolar’ and ‘Hands’, and his most recent book, ‘Why Can’t We Sleep? (2019). He writes frequently about contemporary art.
Darian’s latest book is Why Can’t we Sleep?
Dr Moira Junge is a health psychologist working in the sleep field, who has considerable experience working with people with sleeping difficulties in a multidisciplinary practice using a team-based approach. Moira is actively involved with the Australasian Sleep Association (ASA) and a board member of the Sleep Health Foundation. She has presented numerous workshops for psychologists and is involved with Monash University with teaching and supervision commitments. She is one of the founders and clinic directors at Yarraville Health Group which was established in 1998. In addition to her expertise in sleep disorders, her other areas of interest and expertise include smoking cessation, psychological adjustment to chronic illness, and grief and loss issues.
Dr David Cunnington is a sleep physician and director of Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, and co-founder and contributor to SleepHub. David trained in sleep medicine both in Australia and in the United States, at Harvard Medical School, and is certified as both an International Sleep Medicine Specialist and International Behavioural Sleep Medicine Specialist. David’s clinical practice covers all areas of sleep medicine and he is actively involved in training health professionals in sleep. David is a regular media commentator on sleep, both in traditional media and social media. David’s recent research has been in the area of non-drug, psychologically-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness in managing insomnia, restless legs syndrome and other sleep disorders.
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Dr. David Cunnington: Welcome to the next episode of Sleep Talk. So this is actually Episode #40. And today, we are going to be talking about normal sleep. Hopefully try and challenge you about what you think about normal sleep. And welcome again, Moira.
Dr. Moira Junge: Hello, David. Hello, everyone. It does come around quickly, doesn’t it? New episodes?
Dr. David Cunnington: So this episode is about normal sleep. And later, you will hear us interview Darian Leader, and that’s on the back of Moira, your pick last month.
Dr. Moira Junge: Yes.
Dr. David Cunnington: A book.
Dr. Moira Junge: A book that you hadn’t heard of, you hadn’t read yet. You had heard of I know but you hadn’t read.
Dr. David Cunnington: Within minutes, it was in my cart and I read it and I’m like, “Right. This is great. We are going to talk to Darian.”
Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah.
Dr. David Cunnington: So you will hear from him shortly.
Dr. Moira Junge: So, what has been happening, Dave, in the last month?
Dr. David Cunnington: So there was an interesting article that got published in the Medical Journal of Australia about looking at screening questionnaires for sleep apnea. And the interesting thing for me is that it’s something that’s relevant in Australia at the minute because there had been some changes in the way we use questionnaires to look at eligibility for sleep studies. But the more interesting thing was it really highlighted the diversity of opinion in this area.
Essentially, the article showed that if you applied screening questionnaires, in this case, the STOP BANG Questionnaire and Epworth Sleepiness Score. Depending on where you sit, the sensitiveness and specificity of certain amount of people will fall out and not be picked up quite that sort of screening system. That’s OK. Your sort of adjust those thresholds.
But the commentary, included commentary from both Doug McEvoy and David Hillman, the people I really respect, very good at what they do. They think a lot about this field and they sort of really think about how we apply this on a population health level.
Dr. Moira Junge: They’ve been guests of course on the previous podcast episodes.
Dr. David Cunnington: I have indeed. And they had quite divergent opinions about how do we interpret that study. Doug with his background of being a primary author on the safe study, looking at the cardiovascular effects and really thinking, “Well, maybe we are diagnosing too much sleep apnea.” And David Hillman, coming from a slightly different approach saying, “Well, it’s a big burden of disease in the community and that set the thresholds too high because people all miss out.” And I can absolutely see both sides of that argument. And I think it’s a discussion as a field we need to actually have a bit more to work out where do we see it and what are we trying to do?
Dr. Moira Junge: What about the Australian Podcast Awards. We weren’t there.
Dr. David Cunnington: I’ve kept pretty quite about it but we are nominated for the Australian Podcast Awards so I’m pretty proud of that. Didn’t make the final cut but Moira, I got to tell you, in the final cut, it was the ABC, it was SPS, it was the major media outlets.
Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah.
Dr. David Cunnington: So it was a little independent podcast. I can live with the fact. We weren’t quite there.
Dr. Moira Junge: It was quite good nominated.
Dr. David Cunnington: Yeah, yeah. We were not quite there yet.
Dr. Moira Junge: We will take that as a success in itself.
Dr. David Cunnington: So the thing for this month’s podcast is normal sleep. And one of the key factors for us when we are working with people and the reason that they might come and see us is they perceived their sleep isn’t what they expect it to be. And people measure that against their expected normal. So that really raises the question, well, what is normal?
Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah. Yup. I’m surprised we haven’t – I mean we talked about it in large but we haven’t actually had a podcast dedicated before to what is normal sleep. But we talked a lot on the previous episodes about one’s expectations of sleep and of that that entails. So this is good. This is good timing.
Dr. David Cunnington: Because there is that expectation sometimes that it’s 8 hours long, it’s continuous, it’s not normal to sleep during the day or shouldn’t be taught and you shouldn’t sleep during the day. So we will start to break that down and work out where that comes from and it’s relevant in practice. There are a couple of people I saw earlier this week. One of them goes to bed at 10, goes to sleep pretty quickly. Sleep until 3 and then he is awake. So he had has a 5-four block of sleep and he is then awake. And then in the afternoon has a nap between 1 and 2, gets a total of 6 hours of sleep per 24 hours and feels pretty good.
Dr. Moira Junge: That’s the bottom line, isn’t it? It’s the occupation and/or social functioning.
Dr. David Cunnington: Right. So functioning but highly distressed about that and had been using medications to try and put themselves back to sleep and doing all manner of things to desperately get back to sleep. But maybe if your period back to sleep wasn’t that far off of what you call sleep pattern in the first place.
Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah. This is interesting because it’s sort of – it’s exactly why I got involved with things like doing this podcast or being on the board of the Sleep Health Foundation and doing some media for them. It’s actually being driven by being able to have this public discussions and bringing this out into the open. It’s a real dilemma for me that I – because I value sleep. I would not even devalue sleep. It’s so important. The message is I’m very happy to talk about the importance of sleep and the detriment to us if we don’t get enough because it’s factual.
However, there is this big – there is a big groundswell about people being getting very anxious and distressed about their sleep which otherwise we think, “Look, it’s not so bad. It’s pretty normal and your functioning is pretty good really. You don’t look or sound or it doesn’t seem all that bad but the distress is super high.”
So it’s close to my heart, this topic.
Dr. David Cunnington: Yeah, absolutely. So then when you mentioned to me Darian Leader’s book, Why Can’t We Sleep? and I was starting to read it, I’m like, “Whoa! This is good.” So this is the sort of material that I think if people can hear where those beliefs about sleep come from, it might help with some of that recalibration and being a little bit more comfortable with sleep that they are getting rather than thinking that their sleep has to make these other expectations.
So Darian is a pretty psychoanalyst and author and is a member of the College of Psychoanalysts and founding member of Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research.
Thanks a lot, Darian, for helping us out.
Darian Leader: Hi, David. Hi, Moira.
Dr. Moira Junge: Hello.
Dr. David Cunnington: So where does the idea that we need 8 hours of sleep originate from?
Darian Leader: This is a very old idea. No one knows exactly at what point and in which culture it originates. The people who have been bringing up the idea of the division of the day into 8-hour segments for several centuries but at the same time, there have been many people who have argued simultaneously that although 8 hours is a nice division of 24, we don’t actually need to have an 8-hour sleep or period of rest. Rather, there will be an individual variability and you can always find an emphasis on variations need for sleep going as far back as the sources we have for the 8-hour number.
Dr. David Cunnington: And was it always about sleep or was it sometimes about respite or restorations?
Darian Leader: Yes, exactly. Sometimes it’s phrased in language of rest, respite, moving away from the tasks and duties of the day and then gradually over time, it becomes more and more linked to sleep.
Dr. David Cunnington: And what about that notion or that idea, was this got to be in one block rather than accumulative?
Darian Leader: Yes, indeed. The notion of a block consolidated 8-hour sleep is a very recent idea. It’s something that dates probably from the mid-19th century onwards. That’s when it really starts to gather momentum. And even today, you read those stuff in the media and in some deep science books and all talk usually more of the popular stuff than the scientific stuff saying that we need 8 hours of sleep a day. And yet, even the most recent results, I don’t know if the people who are listening to this might have had the chance to see the massive meta-analysis seen in the recent issue of Sleep Medicine Review looking at almost 37 million people. And they found that the causes of that full – we are often told that if we don’t get 8 hours, it holds up to all these dangerous illnesses and diseases are actually greater if you sleep 8 hours or more than if you sleep for less.
So this huge review of studies over the last 20 years shows us that there is a problem in expecting nice 8-hour sleep. But also, if we look back historically, we find that really there has never been an insistence on having an 8-hour block and that people who have tended to sleep bi-physically. In other words, waking up in the middle of the night, maybe for an hour, an hour and a half and then going back to sleep again. And more than 30 languages actually have vocabulary and terminology to distinguish what could be called the first sleep and the second sleep.
These results mainly come from the historian, Roger Ekirch, but then has been replicated by other historians working since then. So the idea of a single block of sleep is a recent invention.
Dr. Moira Junge: And along the lines of that with all your research, Darian, what do you make of naps or what do you make of with literature and your research has told you about naps?
Darian Leader: Yeah, that’s another good question. I mean that’s sort of an interesting thing because historically, we’ve seen it phasing out of naps in the in the traditional siesta couches, Spain which for centuries have had napping in the early afternoon. From 2006, the Spanish government bans workplace napping in public office and all service offices.
In China, the traditional multi-hour nap in the early afternoon has been reduced to one hour.
In Japan, traditional napping in the workplace, in restaurants, even in the subway is increasingly frowned upon.
And these changes have been linked by most of the historians and anthropologists with the study they did to the dominance of the work ethic, the idea that time spent asleep means money lost for business. Unproductive work means that we have to phase out napping to keep on working.
There’s certainly a truth in that but at the same time, what we’ve seen in the last 15 years is the fact that many consultants to businesses have argued that naps actually increased the productivity of workers.
And so, many big businesses like Pepsi, IBM, Pizza Hut have tried to introduce the practice of workplace napping or special sleep areas or sleep pods and so on. What’s interesting is that this hasn’t really worked. It hasn’t really been successful. And some of the companies that sell sleeping spaces to the logical places have actually gone out of business because it’s very difficult to get people into a state where they are able to sleep at work so that it’s very dominant and be imperative to continually be productive, to continually look at the screen, to do the things that you need to do that this napping couch that was predicted as the future of modern work, it really hasn’t really happened.
Dr. David Cunnington: And each of Moira and I occasionally get asked to go into workplaces and talk to workers. And much like you alluded to in your book, we get this brief from the boss or the CEO, “Look, tell them sleep is important but don’t tell them they got to take naps at work or take lots of time out because we work hard.” And it is trying to almost like insert a nap into the rest of the busy day without interrupting the busy day and the productivity. So that hasn’t really been implemented well.
Darian Leader: I mean it’s interesting that both sleeping and not sleeping both are seen as serving the same master which is the economic productivity and the growth of business. But you can tell that to a business and to the people that work there but at the same time is they are saying, it’s very, very difficult to actually get people not – I mean to recognize the importance that napping might have but also, to actually be in a place where you are able to do that. How easy it is for some people but not for others to switch off during the day?
Dr. David Cunnington: So you talked earlier about being awake at night and the first sleep and the second sleep. So in your book, you used the term, “I’m watching” or they are watching now, can you expound on that a bit more?
Darian Leader: Yeah. This is a very interesting idea that just as more than 30 languages have got terminologies for the first and the second sleep. They’ve also got terms for this break in between the two sleeps. When people wake up, they do things, they might need to work, do chores, have sex, be cooking, prepare things for the day ahead, do repairs, many different cultures will have different activities that are associated with that time but no one thought anything strange about the idea of getting up in the middle of the night and doing things. And they certainly didn’t encourage people to stay in bed and try and get back to sleep.
And historically, that is so interesting that until the mid to late 19th century when people sought help for sleeping problems, it tended to be for problems in falling asleep at the beginning of the night but not for waking up. This wasn’t seen as a problem. And if any told you at the end of the 19th century that middle of the night waking suddenly starts to become pathologized. This watching hour at the time in the middle of the night suddenly seems like an aberration and something that you need help for.
Dr. Moira Junge: So in that sense is that what we call a busy mind and being over stimulated. Is that particular to the 21stcentury do you think?
Darian Leader: That’s another very good question. When you look at accounts of sleeping difficulties today, you will see very often the explanation how can anyone get to sleep with the mobile phone, constantly being on your computer, the moment you wake up in the morning, you have to now have logged up more messages, more work demands, more information.
But if you then go back let’s say 120 years, go to 1890, you see the medical journals speaking exactly the same terms about insomnia epidemics, sleeping disturbances cause by new technologies. The telegraph, the railways then seem to collapsed space and time so that the moment you wake up in the morning, you’ll get some business news to the fact you’re going to be worrying about that before you go to sleep.
And so, this sort of so-called epidemic or problem then 120 years ago was linked to exactly the modern technologies that people use today. But if you can go back even further before the industrial revolution to the 17th century, you will learn that people then also complaining about sleeping problem linked most often to difficulties with money and business. So that there are always things that keep people awake. The way that they are accounted for, the way they are seen as normal or abnormal, that will change culturally. But I think there has always been an emphasis historically on the external world, the stimulation of the external world being responsible for keeping us awake.
And another very nice example, in the early 17th century, many scholars were complaining about the fact that it was no longer possible to know everything. It was then possible to read every book that was published what today we see as tiny number of books being published for them. It was impossible to read everything. And so they complained about information overload in terms of how similar to the way we complain today.
Dr. David Cunnington: And in that watching hour, one of the other things I like in your book was that speculation about is ruminative time and reflection actually helpful?
Darian Leader: David, something that surprised me a great deal when I was doing the research for the book that I had assumed that in that watching hour, people would just be occupied with doing things in their living space, repairing things, preparing things, and so on. But there are a lot of examples which indicate that people were as you say, actually thinking and reflecting and maybe talking about their dreams, thinking about their dreams. Obviously, a lot of that would have involved some kind of religious framework in which people would run the event for the day and perhaps evaluate them and judge them in religious terms. We don’t perhaps all do that today but we might evaluate them in other terms.
But it’s very interesting to see the way in which it wasn’t all manual labor in the house that people occupied with but there was also some kind of intellectual work that was going on.
Dr. David Cunnington: And how do you reconcile? So this is one of the things we struggle with in practice. So some of that behavioral components of cognitive behavioral therapy of insomnia almost trying to make sleep meet our sort of industrial norm of sleep to make sleep continuous and make sleep onset fast and eradicate the awakening during the night.
How do we reconcile what we are trying to tell people to do to improve their sleep with the more cognitive side of realigning and recalibrating them about, “You know what? Sleep probably isn’t as abnormal as you thought it was.”
Darian Leader: Yup. I think that’s another very important point that the more one insists on an unbroken sleep, the more that people will feel stressed out and pressured to have that block of usually, I mean here, it’s 8 hours. But obviously, that will make it in itself more difficult to sleep because the more you’re worried about how long you’re going to sleep full, that will actually affect the process of falling asleep and maintaining sleep. And many people, the first thing they do in the morning is to look at the clock not to see if they’re going to be late for work but to see if they’ve had the number of hours that they’ve set themselves. And I think obviously, one of the tasks of the many different kinds of cognitive therapy for sleep problems is to make people more relaxed about those to try to lessen this weight of an 8-hour norm.
Interestingly, the authors of the massive meta-analysis in Sleep Medicine Review conclude that they recommend cognitive therapy use less for the sleep problems themselves than for helping people to get over their fears that are generated by all the stuff in the media about needing to have the 8-hour block.
Dr. Moira Junge: We find that a lot. In fact, people who have had quite successful therapy, for instance, maybe 6 sessions, in the end of it, they may still are going to be sleeping with the same amount of hours but they have far less anxiety about it, less concerns, feeling more positive, feeling more empowered.
Darian Leader: And I think also if people are aware of the histories and the fact that it tended for centuries to involve this watching hour and being broken and interrupted or by phase because they say, if someone wakes up in the middle of the night, they didn’t have to panic and feel this massive anxiety about not having a consolidated block. But just recognized that this is what people have been doing for centuries and that in a way, what’s bizarre is the imperative to sleep uninterruptedly for one consolidated block.
Dr. David Cunnington: It’s like we are trying to shoehorn sleep into a societal norm or into a corner where we conveniently needed to be to then maintain our productivity, busyness during our waking time.
Darian Leader: Exactly. And one of the things we often find in the sleep signs research is the idea that sleeping a set number of hours, having an uninterrupted sleeping time will increase the workers’ productivity to produce in optimum performance. But remember, what’s the difference between a human and a machine? Precisely the fact that humans don’t always run in the kind of perfect way that we don’t always have optimal performance. And that if we did, that would be very, very strange and the performance itself could be seen as a norm.
Why would we expect someone to always work to the max, always work perfectly using all of their skills and so on? Why can’t we accept a culture in which people’s work rhythms go up and down according to needs, to pressures of what’s going on internally, to other things happening in their environment? There are so many different things that can affect to how someone operate, how they function, and how they relate, and of course, how they sleep.
Dr. David Cunnington: Yeah, that’s very nice point because I’ve seen some of the sleep dissatisfaction which is larger than the clients we see are often more sleep dissatisfied rather than an abnormal sleep pattern is driven by productivity expectations. There is that expectation of completing a 100% performance for every single wakeful minute with no variability.
Darian Leader: Exactly. And it’s really interesting recently in this country, in England, there are sleep stories almost every single day in the media about how important sleep is and getting your big block of sleep. And yet, a few months ago with our Brexit fiasco, when Theresa May, our Prime Minister at the time, put through the first big Brexit vote through Parliament, all the media on the day of the vote was saying, “Is Theresa May going to sleep tonight?” And then the next morning, “Did she sleep last night?” as if the obvious answer is of course she wasn’t going to sleep because of this massive vote.
Yeah, you can say if everyone in the media could laugh about that, the idea that she would get a good night sleep given those pressures, why would we assume that everyone’s life is easier than that of Theresa May? Most people go through trials and tribulations in their everyday life so why would we expect them to have a perfect sleep?
Dr. Moira Junge: Speaking of the quest of perfect sleep and those sorts of things, do we really need gadgets or expensive mattresses and things like that? What are your views on that?
Darian Leader: Yeah. I mean this is something that you see more and more of today. People are using tracking devices during their sleep or buying the expensive mattresses. I think that the tracking device is what they serve is really a kind of culture of evaluation where people are judging, evaluating themselves.
In the same way that 20 years ago on TV on a Saturday night, we might watch a variety show with singers and dancers. Today on Thursday night, we watch variety shows. We watch the singers and dancers but also a panel of judges evaluating them. This culture has now become so pervasive that the first thing people do in the morning is to evaluate, to count, to measure how much they slept. And hence, the popularity of the devices which incidentally aren’t particularly accurate because they already factor in sleep latency time and the emphasis of most of the tracking devices on movement isn’t entirely reliable.
With the mattresses, you could argue that a very good mattress might help some people to sleep. Why not? But at the same time, sometimes the very fact that you’re spending so much money on the mattress might have an effect because it’s deemed as kind of at an unconscious level, a kind of punishment or penance for some kind of preconscious or unconscious guilt.
And in the book, I argue that sleep has always had an association with conscience. In many cases today when people describe in detail, we find that there are some questions of conscience or guilt under the surface. And the idea of buying something very expensive in a way echoes the old religious culture where we pay for our absolution for our sins after the night before going to bed. One’s sins would have to be run through, accounted, and repented for.
So in a way, there is still that perhaps religious dimension to the purchase of the mattress. But if the mattress is going to help you sleep, why not?
Dr. David Cunnington: As you know, we see in practice, it starts with the mattress and then it’s the bedding and then it’s the curtains and then it’s the plugs and then it’s the eye shades.
Darian Leader: Yeah.
Dr. David Cunnington: And it’s building a list of accessories and therefore become contingencies that for me to sleep, I must fulfill all of these contingencies.
Darian Leader: Yeah, exactly. So in a way, the demand just snowballs that more and more things you need. I wouldn’t want to discourage someone and say, “Don’t get a mattress. Don’t get your earplugs because the problems are internal or to do with your work situation.” And say don’t try these things. I mean people have to make their own choices. But I think they should be more information around about how many different things can contribute to people’s sleeping problems and of course to the more general problem. What do we expect from sleep? And if we can give up the idea that we expect sleep to be this consolidated block of 8-hour perfection then maybe things become a bit more realistic to say the least.
Dr. Moira Junge: Thank you so much.
Darian Leader: Thank you so much. Bye.
Dr. Moira Junge: That was wonderful to be part of that interview. Often I missed doing it and you very ably do that on your own.
Dr. David Cunnington: Oh great. It’s just for me to be able to listen to somebody just speak very articulately about where our beliefs about sleep come from and present a different view or at least a historical context that suggests that yeah, maybe actually sleep isn’t what we think it should be. It’s not about idealists. It’s not about continuous. It’s not about having to be wakeful and have completely even performance across the day.
Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah, that was great. Yeah, I need the lovely book. And thanks to Darian. It was a very informative and articulate interview.
Dr. David Cunnington: So I can highly recommend Darian’s book. So the book is called Why Can’t We Sleep? and it’s published by Penguin Books. And we will put a link to the book in the show notes.
So Moira, this discussion does challenge some of the ways we do CBT or the sort of standard way of doing CBT for insomnia. How do we soften that or how do we sort of nuance that?
Dr. Moira Junge: What hopefully we can take as a take-home message is that we need to change our relationship with sleep in the same way that we’ve talked about that before with the mindfulness principles. We talked to that on patients about that saying we’ve just got to change the relationship of sleep, the way we view it, the way we might have all these attributional biases and think that sleep is to blame for everything. And if only I sleep then I’d be super, super successful at all of these things that we have seen for a long time. So yeah, so more on that in the future. I think it’s such a – it’s really exciting.
Dr. David Cunnington: So to get some other context around sleep, we have had a previous podcast episode where we looked at sleep in different societies. So you remember Andrew Beale’s paper on Sleep in Mozambique that we talked about in Episode 26. And in that same episode, we also talked to Dr. Himanshu Garg about sleep in India and how intuitionally and culturally they conceptualize sleep. Have a listen to that. It’s also going to just challenge that existing notions about how sleep should be.
Dr. Moira Junge: So David, what’s your clinical tip of the month?
Dr. David Cunnington: So keeping with the theme of this episode, when you’re working with individuals with sleep problems, think about for them what does sleep mean to them in a historical and cultural scenes? What’s their expectation about sleep? So don’t take it for granted that you know what they are looking for in terms of sleep because what they are looking for is going to be very much guided by their belief system about sleep.
And then when you start to work with them, although clinical trials, we run a standardized protocol and we can show that has an effect, really we should be moving into individualized and personalized medicine because that’s the way things are going. So try and think about OK, what does sleep mean to that person in a historical and cultural scenes and how can we work with them on getting their sleep to work in a way that fits for them so that it’s a more individualized approach?
So Moira, what’s your pick this month?
Dr. Moira Junge: I picked a paper this time and it’s a familiar group for our podcast listeners. It has been on at least a couple of times from Monash University here in Melbourne, the first author being Andrew Phillips, a whole group of very high caliber researchers. And it’s a very good paper called High Sensitivity and Interindividual Variability in Response of the Human Circadian System to Evening Light.
And what’s so good about it in a nutshell is that it shows that there is actually a 50-fold difference like an interindividual variability in our response to light. So that’s really, really going to make our messaging much more nuance. So many people say, “Oh, that doesn’t affect me whatsoever. It doesn’t worry me having my iPad in bed and those things.” But now we know that it’s because it’s that there might be a 50-fold difference amongst individuals so it does affect some people a great deal and others not at all.
And we can make analogies like with caffeine of people who – there’s a lot of individual variation with that too. And in fact, Monash should all really big on caffeine maybe late ‘80s, early ‘90s, looking and researching there’s total individual differences. And that’s really useful for the general public. It’s really useful to know that the person who has coffee after dinner sleeps well is not necessarily a norm.
What about you? What’s your pick of the month?
Dr. David Cunnington: This is something you’re involved with. So I really like the script-wise program.
Dr. Moira Junge: Oh yes, that was great.
Dr. David Cunnington: It’s a resource for people who maybe addicted to benzodiazepines or sleeping pills or have found that they’re on sleeping pills and were trying to get off sleeping pills and as well as a resource both for health professionals and for clients or the public about that. So you feature in some of the videos, Moira. You did a great job.
Dr. Moira Junge: Yay! Good face on the radio. No, it was really great to be a part of that. Obviously, not for profit. We all just gave our time. And they’re good quality, aren’t they?
Dr. David Cunnington: Yeah, it has come together really well. So it’s a really great resource. I’ll put link into that.
So look out for the next couple of episodes where we will be looking to do food and sleep, this episode is snack in because we had the opportunity to talk about normal sleep. So it’s got in ahead of the food episodes that we are still working on.
Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah.
Dr. David Cunnington: But look out for those over the next couple of months.
Dr. Moira Junge: Thanks for listening. And please, remember to send us any suggestions at Podcast@SleepHub.com.au.
Dr. David Cunnington: If you like the podcast, send us a review on iTunes. We have a couple of nice reviews lately. And you can subscribe to the podcast via any podcast app. You can search for Sleep Talk, talking all things sleep. Thanks a lot.
Dr. Moira Junge: Thank you.