Episode 63: Social Factors and Sleep

Sleeping well requires more than just laying down at night. Many broader factors impact on sleep such as working hours, the neighbourhood we live in, financial and family stability, race and gender. To better understand the interaction between social factors we spoke with Assoc Prof Dustin Duncan, a social and spatial epidemiologist from Columbia University, New York.

Dr Moira Junge (Health Psychologist) and Dr David Cunnington (Sleep Physician) host the monthly podcast, Sleep Talk – Talking all things sleep.

Leave a review and subscribe via Apple Podcasts

Audio Timeline / Chapters:

  • 00:00 – 22:58 Theme – Social Factors and Sleep
  • 22:58 – 24:14 Clinical Tip
  • 24:14 – 28:07Pick of the Month
  • 28:07 – 29:55 What’s Coming Up?

Next episode: 

  • Borderline Personality Disorder

Links mentioned in the podcast:


Guest interview:

Assoc Prof Dustin Duncan, ScD (he/they) is a social and spatial epidemiologist, studying how neighbourhood characteristics and mobility across geographic contexts influence population health and health disparities. Methodologically, his research utilizes an ecologically-intensive and a geospatial lens to apply advanced geographic information systems, web-based and real-time geospatial technologies, and geospatial modeling techniques. Working in collaborations with scholars across the world, he has nearly 200 high-impact scientific articles, book chapters, and books; his research has appeared in major media outlets including U.S. News & World Report, Politico, The Washington Post, The New York Times and CNN. Duncan’s work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the HIV Prevention Trials Network, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Verizon Foundation, and the Aetna Foundation.

Regular hosts:

Dr Moira JungeDr 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. 

Connect with Moira on Twitter – @MoiraJunge

Dr David CunningtonDr 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 an International Sleep Medicine Specialist, Diplomate Behavioral Sleep Medicine and Registered Polysomnographic Technologist. David’s clinical practice covers all areas of sleep medicine and he is actively involved in training health professionals in sleep.

Connect with David on Twitter – @DavidCunnington. David also regularly posts information on sleep to his Facebook page.

Need more information about how you can sleep better?

At SleepHub we understand the struggle people endure with sleeping problems which is why we have created a comprehensive FAQs page and a range of resources with information for those seeking information about sleep disorders and potential solutions.


Welcome to Sleep Talk, the podcast about all things sleep, brought to you by sleephub.com.au. Here are your hosts, Dr. David Cunnington and Dr. Moira Junge.

Dr. David Cunnington: So welcome to Episode 63 of Sleep Talk, the podcast talking all things sleep. And welcome again, Moira.

Dr. Moira Junge: Hi, Dave. Hello, everyone.

Dr. David Cunnington: And so the theme for this podcast is looking at some of the Social Factors that Impact on Sleep. So putting the proposition that sleep is a luxury item. To be able to sleep well, you need to, in some respects, have access to a whole range of things like safe housing, a good, stable job, not having to work shift work, or be up at night.

So we’re going to get into that is that something that you see, Moira, in the people that you’re working with on your day-to-day work?

Dr. Moira Junge: Oh, absolutely. But we can probably sort of say it’s a luxury, but it’s also maybe for the privileged. But as we know, the privilege as well suffer from sleep problems.

Dr. David Cunnington: You may have all those social factors in your favor, but then there are other factors that get in the way of sleep. So for some people, it’s the social determinants that are just really challenging. And even though they’re doing the best they can, there are things that you can’t get around. For others, it’s, yeah, it’s a totally different approach that we need to take.

And we sort of have talked offline a bit about, you know, we work with individuals in our day-to-day work. But really, we’re each very passionate about that bigger picture. And looking at some of these social factors to work out, how can we improve sleep across a population, not just in those that are coming to see us in our clinic?

Dr. Moira Junge: Absolutely. It’s probably why we did the podcast in a way, wasn’t it? The frustration of the individual work, and you just this next one, not one after the other, whereas we want to make– we want education and awareness, and policy change at a much higher population level, which, so I guess, yeah, this is why we do this, and our other– and the board work we do and…

Dr. David Cunnington: Yeah, absolutely. So one of the key resources and one of the things that triggered this podcast was a book, you know, a lot of books, The Social Epidemiology of Sleep. And that was edited in part by Dustin Duncan, and we’re going to interview Dustin. I really like a quote at the start of Chapter One, like right up front in the book, and I’m going to read it out.

“When we sleep, where we sleep, and with whom we sleep are all important markers or indicators of social status, privilege, and prevailing power relations.”

And that’s attributed to Simon Williams, who’s also an epidemiologist from the University of Warwick.

Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah, indeed. So great to have secured an interview with Dustin.

Dr. David Cunnington: So, Dustin is the Director of Social and Spatial Epidemiology unit at Columbia University in New York.

Dr. Moira Junge: So Dustin, thanks so much for joining us for this conversation. We, I’d like to know, how did you become involved with a book on The Social Epidemiology of Sleep?

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: I just finished a book called, Neighborhoods and Health with Ichiro Kawachi, who was my postdoctoral mentor and really longtime collaborator. We were in Boston, I took him to dinner to thank him for just being a good mentor, and he’s just a really lovely person to work with, so we started talking about like additional projects.

And literally, over a dinner, the book was born. And so, we basically said that we think sleep is an important topic, but it’s really understudied. And then we started as social epidemiologists, we said, you know, there really isn’t anything that’s done in terms of volume that has brought together the various major social determinants of health as it relates to sleep. And we said, you know, we should write something about it.

And so we started, I mean, I get really excited, a lot of my friends and colleagues describe me as passionate, which is probably accurate. And I started to get really excited, and I started to kind of work on this kind of preliminary proposal. And we just started back and forth, like literally that night going, trying to compare it with a puzzle, and then we identify Susan Redline, who’s just an amazing sleep physician and sleep epidemiologist, as a close colleague to work with.

And thankfully, Susan agreed. You know, she’s super, super, super, super busy. I didn’t know that she was going to necessarily agree, but she agreed, and she was a pleasure to work with. So it really happened literally at a dinner conversation. And what we really identified is that, you know, sleep is super important, and social epidemiology is super important. But we don’t feel, we didn’t feel like those worlds were merged enough.

And what we wanted to do with the book was to really highlight both fields, and in some ways, develop this new field. I have many colleagues that are working at the intersection already, but we really wanted it to be and still wanted to be identified as an area that there’s, that people should go into.

Dr. Moira Junge: Before we get to that intersection, tell the listeners really, I guess, what are some of the social determinants of sleep.

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: Social determinants of sleep, like broadly, like these broader social determinants of health range from race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender, immigration, occupation, the neighborhoods you live in discrimination. I mean, they’re really broad.

Dr. Moira Junge: How does sleep and those social factors interact?

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: It varies. And while preparing for this, you know, I thought about what to focus on. I’ll talk about mainly what my work focuses on. So at Columbia, I direct the Columbia Spatial Epidemiology lab. So a large proportion of our work focuses on understanding the salience of neighborhoods in health with a focus on sleep.

I co-wrote a chapter with Dayna Johnson from Emory University, and one of my long term research assistants, who’s now a medical student in New York. And what we did is we, in the book, we talked about neighborhoods as a determinant on sleep, and we talked about many different neighborhood factors. But one factor we talked about was neighborhood crime and safety as a picker determinant in sleep, and one kind of… one pathway we highlighted is increased stress.

So neighborhoods’ safety concerns lead to increased stress, leading to perhaps rumination and/or fear, leading to poor sleep quality.

Dr. David Cunnington: What about some of the environmental things in neighborhoods like for example, you know, the neighborhood that’s got lots of above ground Metro trains running by and lighting, because there are delivery vans, coming to drop off things in the nights and that type of thing?

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: We’ve also studied and talked about things like neighborhood noise, we think and talk about, and think about things like air pollution, I think the exciting but difficult part is that sleep is so… is associated with everything, which is exciting. But at the same time, there’s so much that’s not known.

So even in this chapter that I’m referring to, we highlight several neighborhood determinants, but in several populations, there are things that aren’t known. And another thing that’s not surprising to maybe you all is that there’s a lot more work that needs to be conducted, especially using designs that really help us answer the questions.

So for example, still, the vast majority of studies of neighborhoods and health probably, but including when it comes to sleep, have focused on or utilize, excuse me, cross-sectional designs. We know that that’s like what you know from basic Epi 101. It’s just not sufficient in terms of getting anything to do with causal inference.

Dr. David Cunnington: And once you get away from that sort of neighborhood type of thing, what about things like job security? I know one of the things you talked about in the book was, so linking with job security is a dollar per hour reimbursement versus salary type of work. How does those sort of factors fit in?

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: Yeah, so certainly the jobs that one has, including like decision or control, overall, in terms of stress, but also literally the tow jobs we have in terms of the hours we work, I have the luxury of generally deciding when I work. I mean, of course, not completely right. My class schedules are dictated sometimes and there are certain obligatory meetings. But generally, I can decide when I work, which of course also means I could decide when I sleep.

But there are certain jobs, right, that people don’t have that autonomy, and literally work during prime sleep hours, right? So certainly… another factor that we talked about in the book, and that I’ve been thinking a lot about, including as it comes to the COVID pandemic and our lives now in the States, especially is race. And the race is something that we talk a lot about in our group and think a lot about in our group.

But one thing we’ve thought a lot about in the pandemic is increased police presence and activity, especially at the peak of the pandemic, more explicitly black Americans, you know, being targeted by police, for example, for not wearing masks, and perhaps disproportionately, right? So you see two different groups of people, they’re both not wearing masks, and Black people are disproportionately more harassing, thinking about how that impacted their lives. But also, you know, lives vis-à-vis sleep.

Dr. Moira Junge: And what about outside of urban areas, or even different cultures, like non-western cultures, do similar social factors impact sleep?

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: As you know, the vast majority of work is really on research broadly. Research enterprise has been in Western cultures, mainly in the US, that I would say, UK/Australia with a scattering of work at other places.

So there are very few studies in Asia, relatively speaking, that I’m aware of at least, very few studies in Sub-Saharan Africa, and there are a few studies in the Caribbean or other places like that. But I would say broadly, the major social determinants on sleep, and other health outcomes are similar. You know, I think there may be a nuance to different societies where some may be more pronounced and are relevant under salient than others.

So for example, in certain societies, when there’s less variation in the race in the city, we wouldn’t expect the race to be that salient factor, right? So for example, I think about the Caribbean maybe, or certain parts of the Caribbean. So you know, all Caribbean islands and my parents are Caribbean, but in certain Caribbean islands, there are more predominantly Black than others, you know. Some are Indian race people or Whites, but you know, but in certain societies, of course, there’s going to be factors that are more salient than not.

But I would say overall, yeah, these are the major social determinants of sleep, which I think are salient across context and societies. But I would say, you know, in terms of the evidence, the evidence is stronger and more robust in there for Western cultures. I’m assuming and so I was hoping that students are going to be listening to this. And so I would encourage, like, you know, the next generation of researchers and people interested in social factors and sleep to take that work on.

Dr. David Cunnington: And there’s this whole invisible world that happens at night. You know, living in quiet suburbia, you think of nighttime, everything’s just quiet, everyone’s in their homes asleep. But if you’re actually out on the street, there are delivery people doing things, there are people often that might live in lower income neighborhoods that have had to commute quite a lot of distance, and are working overnight to provide these services invisibly for people who are having their comfortable sleep in the suburbs, and do a fair bit of work in India.

And there’s exactly that same feel that is mirrored in India. There are people quietly sleeping in their comfortable homes, but a whole subculture of other people busily doing things at night that are just making things seem to seamlessly work during the day. And that really, for me, just highlights that difference in sleep in those groups.

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: I think about some of the work of a colleague of mine that focuses on sex workers. And I’m an expert on sex workers, so pardon my, ignorance in terms of terminology and/or deep content knowledge. But my assumption would be that, you know, sex workers don’t always work. And you know, traditional, I’ll say, sex workers, sex work doesn’t necessarily happen during traditional hours. I’m assuming that sex work also happens at nighttime or during peak sleeping hours.

And so if you think about that as a profession, right, which it is, it would certainly impact their sleep, right? Not just of their clients, but the actual, person who’s engaging in sex work. So I would imagine that certainly one’s job, it has to be on the stress or the unique stressors, also the literal hours that you work would impact how and when you sleep.

Or, thinking about as a nurse, and nurses who work and throughout the night, right? You know, like a literal 12-hour shift from eight to eight. It would obviously impact your sleep given that you’ll be working when most people are sleeping.

Dr. Moira Junge: It’s really fascinating to talk about this population, based on a societal level. But whereas David and I, and people who work as clinicians, we work very much on this individual basis with people’s individual concerns. And it’s really great to highlight these bigger, broader issues and the social factors. So is there anything that can be done, say for people, like, you know, clinicians, researchers, who are, you know, we’re not working, we’re not epidemiologists, we’re not working on bigger factors? But I guess what… yeah, your insights and how, what we could do to help individuals that we’re coping with these large societal factors?

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: I would say familiarizing yourself with the social context and/or recognizing the social context as a potentially salient aspect to people’s lives. Right? I think my training has highlighted to me that the major determinants of health aren’t within hospitals and clinics. It’s really within neighborhoods and social networks.

But I had that bias because that’s how that was my training. But I think as clinicians, recognizing that there are patients, you know, have lives outside of their hospitals, outside of that clinical encounter, not to say that clinical encounter isn’t important, or that health care isn’t important, certainly, it’s important, including in societies like ours. That isn’t a given. We don’t have universal health care here, of course, so it certainly matters.

But I would say, recognizing that it matters and talking to your patients, you know, suggesting that your patient walk around after work to reduce stress in their home neighborhoods may not be a proper sleep help intervention if they live in a neighborhood that’s marked by crime and violence.

And so actually, one of my students, we have a paper that we’re finalizing right now where we show an example of young gay men that many aspects of neighborhoods that relate to like crime and safety concerns are associated with different aspects of sleep health.

And so, like if I was a clinician and this young gay man was coming to me, and saying, like, you know, I can’t sleep and/or I know they can’t sleep, the data would show then that I shouldn’t suggest that they walk around or do physical activity in a neighborhood as a way to promote them to sleep better at night.

In traditional public health and medicine, we focus on these individual factors like sleep, and we don’t recognize or we don’t give enough weight to their context. And yes, sleep is an individual behavior, right? Like I am going to sleep. But it happens within a context like all health and health behaviors.

And I would just encourage the listeners and the students who are listening especially junior researchers to not only recognize that but to study that. There’s so much that we don’t know, number one, and then two, there’s a lot that we don’t know, in particular populations. And I would say the public that needs the work the most, such as marginalized communities.

And so I would encourage the students who are listening, especially to take that work on, because it’s really important. And I’m not a policymaker, but my sense is that for these changes that I’m advocating to be done, there has to be some type of knowledge base there.

Another reason we write these books is certainly like we’re interested in the topic, and we want to study them and see, summarize what’s the state of the field. But also, we want to see the field change. And so part of the reason for writing the book was to really inspire or to hopefully inspire the next generation of researchers to really change the field, right?

Like, these distinct fields don’t have to be distinct. And partially, we wrote the book because we don’t think that they should be distinct. We think they should be really commingled because there’s so inherently, and like…

Dr. Moira Junge: Recognition and awareness, and education is the key. Do you think the shifting the sort of, as far as shifting our focus perhaps, or being broader, being broader in our focus?

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: Not to say shifting the focus, but I would say making sure that you ask the question, you ask questions about people’s lives and their lives outside of their kind of sleeping environment lives. So you know, not just about like, are you looking at… I’m holding my iPad now, are you looking at your iPad before you go to sleep? Are you looking at your phone?

Like, not just asking those things, which of course we know matter. But also asking about their worries and concerns, and what they do and their lives, and how that may be impacting their sleep. Right? We know that stress is a major determinant of health, including sleep health, you know our work in many other groups show that.

And so, you know, they may be unique stressors that they’re experiencing, they need to be addressed that… And it may not be just stressors at the individual level. So for example, a stress of like, I don’t know, but it could be a fundamental stress. So for example, work stress, neighborhood stress, or financial stress.

Dr. David Cunnington: In some respects, if I could have one of your grad students sitting with me in the clinic, just keep tapping on the shoulder, and I go, well, I think this is going on, and they go on. But hang on, they’ve got this type of employment, they live in this type of neighborhood, there’s these cultural factors and family factors going on. It had totally changed the way I approach this.

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: That’s right. And they’re recognizing, OK, this person is an immigrant. So they had these unique stressors, right, those kinds of things. You know, I think it’s super important. I think sometimes as a non-clinician, my sense is, is that we put all our weight on the clinical encounter, and we almost expect that the brief clinical encounter to be this transformative experience that is almost a panacea, it cures someone.

So it’s like, “Oh, you’ve been knighted. Yay!” You’ve met with your clinician, whatever, and now, all of a sudden, you’re going to be better. But all work can’t be done at the clinical encounter. Like, there has to be the base epidemiology research. But there also needs to be policy changes that happen. Right?

So it’s great that we wrote this book and it’s super wonderful, and it was definitely fun to do, and Ichiro is so lovely to work with, and Susan’s great. But if we don’t see any policy changes, in some way, it would be meaningless, right? I mean, from a student standpoint, yes, you know, you can, you think about study design, and the epi, and those kinds of things.

But in terms of like the next steps to improve sleep health, if those policy changes aren’t done and they’re incorporated, including work policy, they’re not all national policies, right, or local policy. Some of them, including the work-based determinants, you know, can be company-specific, and if those changes aren’t made, then in some ways, it wouldn’t have started full purpose. I think that’s a good way to say it.

So I think I think we need all. I think we need clinicians. I think we need researchers. But we also need the policymakers to step up and to advocate for and ensure that these policy changes happen.

Dr. David Cunnington: And it’s interesting for a lot of people we see with sleep problems, they have this idealized idea that we have in Western societies about what sleep is. It’s eight hours and it’s in this place under these circumstances at these times.

So it got spatial time sort of determinants to it. And if you have other social factors, that means you can’t sleep at that desired idealized time for that idealized duration. You have to have a different concept of sleep. Maybe it’s an opportunistic type of concept of sleep, I’ll take it when I get it. It may not occur at the opportune time. It may not be an idealized sort of circumstance.

So, how is a sort of broader level can we help to soften that message about sleep? Is it’s got to be this idealized sleep, which is only possible if you’re in the luxurious position of having all those social factors lined up versus sleep that’s, OK, and you know, the best I can do, if you’ve got these other factors that are hard?

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: I think that’s a question. And I would say, it’s picking the nit broader policy changes that promote health, but also that promote sleep health. So it doesn’t have to be the case that neighborhoods had a lot of crime valid, like, that doesn’t have to be the case, right? There can be, and I’m not a criminologist, but I’m aware of like, you know, interventions and/or policy interventions that reduce those things.

So for example, increase police presence in neighborhoods, neighborhood watch programs. And you know, while those programs may reduce crime and safety concerns, which is important, they also promote better sleep. And so I would say it’s important for me as epidemiologists, and also other scientists to advocate and help highlight to policymakers the salience of the broader social context, a highlight, especially that these are levers that can be changed.

So for example, work hours, right, and work stresses. You know, maybe there are things or institutional policies that can be changed to, one, improve people’s lives overall, but also improve their sleep.

Dr. David Cunnington: Thanks very much for those really helpful insights, Dustin.

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: Sure.

Dr. David Cunnington: Really great that we’re able to interview Dustin. What were some of your reflections about the interview?

Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah, I really enjoyed that chat with Dustin. I guess it highlights that what we’ve already known is that the clinicians and the researchers need to really take note of each other’s worlds and listen to each other, and think about the bigger picture. I think he literally said something that the four walls of the clinic and looking beyond those.

So a timely reminder for everyone, I think I’ve already tuned into that. But I don’t know whether we’re encouraged to do that. In a university training or our meetings, it’s all, it’s very much an individual focus, and we wonder sometimes about what we can do about that broader picture and thinking about people’s social status, and the things that are just beyond their control, really, they coming in with this issue. And at sometimes, societal is systemic, and we’re throwing individual solutions at it. And yeah, that was right. What about you, what are your…

Dr. David Cunnington: Yeah, I agree. And I think it is something we’re often a bit too blind to in the clinic, and certainly not as much of a focus about a lot of those social factors when we’re thinking about sleep in our training. And like you, really excited to have that discussion and start to sort of bringing together that clinical way of thinking and the epidemiologists, but also a little disappointing that it’s in its infancy, and it’s not as far along, as what we might have hoped.

And Dustin’s book does a great job of pulling together the current state of where things are at. But we still got a way to go in terms of being able to get that data, show what these factors do, and the impact they have on sleep, which in turn will then be able to drive policy changes and really make a difference at a population level.

Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah, for sure. And I know that we have teams of people in Australia thinking about this, too, simultaneously. So we do need to, in addition, to say, you know, Sleep Health Foundation and other people who are looking at advocacy and lobbying politicians, and we just, we need to perhaps really liaise with some key research groups to get proper data and get a really good feel for this, and what we can do at a very high level.

Dr. David Cunnington: So I can highly recommend the book we’ve been talking about, The Social Epidemiology of Sleep, edited by Dustin Duncan, Ichiro Kawachi, and Susan Redline.

Dr. Moira Junge: So Dustin, while we have you, we’d love you to give us the clinical tip.

Assoc. Prof. Dustin Duncan: My tip for clinicians would be to, one, recognize the social context matters. And in that recognition, asking their patients about their lives outside of the clinic walls and that patient, that clinical encounter, and to incorporate that knowledge into their recommendations.

And so you know, as a spatial epidemiologist, it’s super easy for me to think about neighborhoods and the science of neighborhoods, but it may not be as obvious to clinicians that one’s neighborhood can influence their patient’s sleep patterns and sleep quality, and to ask about that, and incorporate that into their recommendations.

So, you know, if they live in a high stress neighborhood, let’s say with lots of crime and violence for them to recognize that, not that I anticipate that clinicians will be able to change every, you know, each one of their patients, you know, neighborhood structures, but at least incorporate that into their recommendation.

So if they live in a neighborhood that has a lot of crime and violence, and do not advocate for walking around that neighborhood to reduce their stress levels. In fact, there may be something else that they can recommend that would promote sleep health overall.

Dr. Moira Junge: What’s your pick of the month, Dave?

Dr. David Cunnington: So this one’s an essay on dreams, and for one of the better terms, Dream Hacking that’s in Eon, and I’ll post the link in the show notes. And it really talks about how the ability to have some lucidity around dreams, which we’ve talked about in a recent podcast. And there’s another recent paper, which may be another pick for me in the coming months about the increased creativity by being aware of some of the visual imagery and dream imagery around sleep onset.

But using some of that ability to take insights from dreams to add to creativity, and that’s a really positive thing. But the frightening thing is in the same article are talking about the commercial world is looking at that for advertising. So that’s suggestibility of having, for example, particular brands being played as they’re drifting off to sleep, or prompts about different brands. And they would then have better recall about different brands in lots of commercial groups looking at actually manipulating our dreams to help change the way we think about commercial products, and sell more products. So that’s really scary.

Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah. It’s like good old fashion brainwashing that maybe I thought was unethical enough to not be allowed in this era.

Dr. David Cunnington: It’s on for young and old. But I really, I really liked that essay, because they do point out both the good and the bad. And I think, like everything, the more we under– the more we sort of are aware that that’s an issue, we can be part of that conversation in the sleep field, and also looking out for that. And what have you been listening to before you go to sleep, Moira? It might be something good.

Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah. Gosh, I’d be very careful now with what I watch or listen to.

Dr. David Cunnington: What about a pick of the month for you, Moira?

Dr. Moira Junge: Well, I wanted to give a shout-out to the Sleep Health Foundation Emerging Sleep Hero Awards. We had, we ran that recently for the second time. That sort of been a bit of a lockdown pivot to have to, you know, have an event that can be easily done online. And it was a great success last year. And this year was an equally wonderful success.

And we’ve had, we’ve got our winners, and I’ll post a link to that in the show notes we’ve had. I’ll just talk about the first prize winner, which was Anastasia Suraev. She’s actually a clinical research associate at the Lambert Institute or in the… it’s called, the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics. And it’s attached, so sort of a research center attached to the University of Sydney. And she’s also doing a Ph.D. at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.

So she’s got a lot of affiliations, and she was just doing some wonderful research looking at the clinical applications of cannabinoids in a range of conditions with the focus on sleep disorders. Her current research is his clinical trial looking at the effects of cannabinoid medicine on sleep and daytime function and people with chronic insomnia disorder.

So, well done, Anastasia! Exciting work, she did a wonderful presentation, just an incredible amount of up and coming, or sleep heroes, we call them. But you know, really switched on bright researchers who were doing some, a real array of different types of research in different fields across sleep. And the idea is that the idea of the Sleep Hero Award is that not only are they, obviously, they’re academically capable, et cetera, but being able to put their research into plain language that the general population will be able to understand. So putting together a short presentation.

And so that’s what we wanted in Sleep Health Foundation, people starting to think very early while they’re in their postgraduate studies, being able to translate their research into practice, into practical key clear messages for the general person, so.

Dr. David Cunnington: Yeah, and congratulations, Moira! I know you’ve been heavily involved in organizing that. And both yourself and the Sleep Health Foundation have done a great job.

Dr. Moira Junge: Yeah, thanks! Yeah, sort of one of my babies, and I really, really liked it. What’s coming up in future episodes, Dave?

Dr. David Cunnington: So in the next episode, we’re actually going to talk about Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s been a pick and a topic I’ve been sort of looking at over the last couple of months. And so, a really great interview about that will be in the next episode. Also had a couple of really nice suggestions. So we had someone email in, suggesting, looking at the effects of sleep deprivation on long-term health. I reckon that’s a good one because that’s where the media often is, you know, you don’t sleep, likewise, sleep is going to kill you. And I have to try and get a bit, you know, a bit more of a measured and balanced understanding of that.

And then I’ve had another suggestion about long COVID. And I think that’s a really good topic because that’s something that’s emerging. And hopefully, as there’s less of the acute crisis with the pandemic, unfortunately, we’re going to be faced with a lot of people with long COVID and sleep issues will be a part of that. So having an understanding about that will be helpful.

Dr. Moira Junge: Oh, excellent. So thanks for listening once again. And send out, send us any suggestions for either topic, et cetera at podcasts@sleephub.com.au. We love to hear from you, we love to feature early career researchers and help people hear about their work.

Dr. David Cunnington: And if you like the podcast, review us on iTunes, subscribe, and tell your friends and work colleagues about the podcast. Thanks a lot.

Dr. Moira Junge: Bye!


This not intended as a substitute for your own independent health professional’s advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider within your country or place of residency with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.



Recommended Posts

Tell us what you think