Researching sleep on World Sleep Day
Vancouver, BC – Friday March 15th is the perfect excuse to sleep in. It’s World Sleep Day – a time to think about how sleep affects our health and social well-being.
Forty per cent of Canadians will suffer from some sort of sleep disorder in their lifetime. Shift work, use of electronics, jet lag, noise, light, temperature and even bedding can impact sleep. More complex sleep disorders—sleep apnea, narcolepsy, parasomnias, and REM sleep behavior disorder—need accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Researchers at the Leon Judah Blackmore Centre for Sleep Disorders at UBC Hospital are involved in a nation-wide study examining whether genetic, protein and other blood-based markers can predict future cardiovascular, cognitive and metabolic conditions in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. More than 1300 patients have been recruited into the study so far, including 400 in Vancouver.
“Sleep research shows that patients with obstructive sleep apnea are at high risk of future medical conditions, including dementia and cardiovascular disease,” says lead researcher Dr.Najib Ayas. “We’re hoping this study will help us better identify which patients with obstructive sleep apnea are more at risk for serious complications.”
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax and block the airway repetitively during sleep, causing people to start and stop breathing. Symptoms include loud snoring, choking at night and daytime sleepiness.
Shift workers may be more prone to obstructive sleep apnea, and the study will look at the effect of rotating shifts on the health of those patients. Given that up to 10 per cent of Canadians—including those in health care—work on rotating shifts, better understanding the link between hours of work and health outcomes could shape occupational policy in the future.
The Leon Judah Blackmore Centre for Sleep Disorders at UBC Hospital is a specialized multi-disciplinary team comprised of psychiatrists, respirologists, a neurologist, sleep technologists, as well as coordinators and administrative support staff. The program was established in 1981 and treats people with complex sleep disorders. 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.
“Sleep is fundamental to long term good health,” says Dr. John Fleetham, founder and co-director, Leon Judah Blackmore Centre for Sleep Disorders. “Through research we are better positioned to help those suffering from sleep disorders.”