Vancouver, BC – How many times a week do you think about sleep? It’s one of the ingredients of a healthy life, along with proper diet and exercise. A good sleep sets the tone for a good day, while poor sleep and sleep disorders can impair or even shorten your life.
Forty per cent of Canadians will suffer from some sort of sleep disorder in their lifetime. In many cases, the wakefulness can be traced to lifestyle, shift work, jet lag or poor sleep hygiene, which includes bedding, noise, light, and temperature. More complex sleep disorders—sleep apnea, narcolepsy, parasomnias, and REM sleep behavior disorder—require accurate diagnosis and treatment.
The Sleep Disorders Centre at UBC Hospital— (now known as the Leon Judah Blackmore Centre for Sleep Disorders) was established in 1981 and is the primary referral centre for sleep disorders in BC. The centre has just undergone its largest expansion to date, growing from six to nine rooms. The dual-purpose space operates 24/7—as a clinic by day and lab by night. Previously, the lab and clinic were located in different areas of UBC Hospital.
“This innovative expansion of the sleep centre space allows the program the flexibility needed to support our clients,” says Tracey Taulu, Operations Director, UBC Hospital. “With more rooms - including purpose-built bariatric rooms - the centre is able to see clients in a timely manner and appropriately triage them to the right treatment.”
The merging of the two areas into one innovative, comfortable space for assessing and treating patients was made possible through a $3.8 million donation from the Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation.
“VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is proud to facilitate this gift from the Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation to improve the quality of life for thousands of British Columbians and other Canadians who live with complex sleep disorders,” says Barbara Grantham, President and CEO, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. “This gift is a perfect example of how philanthropy drives innovation and is ultimately transforming the face of health care.”
The sleep disorders program sees approximately 40 patients per day from all over BC, the Yukon and parts of Alberta. Some require a “sleepover” at the lab where important characteristics of sleep are recorded, including brain waves, eye movements, muscle tension, leg movements and blood oxygen levels. Doctors then determine a treatment plan.
“We know that sleep disorders can be linked to degenerative neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia,” says Dr. John Fleetham, founder and co-director, Leon Judah Blackmore Centre for Sleep Disorders. “Sleep disorders also predispose people to heart attack and stroke, so it’s critical to address and treat a sleep disorder as you would any other medical condition. Treatment can include an array of techniques, including losing weight, sleeping on one’s side, machines, medication, even dental appliances to bring the jaw forward.”
In addition to treating patients, the centre is a Canadian leader in research and teaching.
Some of the latest research in sleep will be presented when Vancouver hosts World Sleep 2019.
Vancouver Coastal Health is responsible for the delivery of $3.3 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is Vancouver Coastal Health’s primary philanthropic partner, raising funds for specialized adult health services and research for all British Columbians. The Foundation partners with donors to drive innovation and sustainable health care at VGH & UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Vancouver Community Health Services.
Public Affairs Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health