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Clockwork Research

Sleep takes center stage on prime time TV

Woman with sleeping disorder

‘How to Get A Good Night’s Sleep’ – A new series starting tonight on Channel 5. This follows an excellent BBC documentary last week about the impact of the body clock on sleep and health, referenced in a post by Senior Researcher, Cristina Ruscitto, last week:

This time Channel 5 looks at how to get a good night’s sleep over 2 episodes. The episode tonight focuses on sleep disorders with episode 2 next week looking at sleep/alertness promoting strategies such as split sleep, napping at work and the best ways to make your room more conducive to sleeping. Derk-Jan Dijk, Professor of sleep and physiology at the University of Surrey will be interviewed by presenter Eamonn Holmes about this topic.

Shift workers, in particular, could benefit from adopting sleep and alertness strategies to cope with circadian misalignment caused by working irregular hours and to improve safety at work. Indeed, Clockwork Research’s training includes not only content on sleep and fatigue science but also sleep and fatigue countermeasures tailored to different types of shift work and contexts (e.g. airlines, gas oil industry), for example napping.

Shift workers who struggle with insomnia (trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early resulting in daytime impairment at least 3 times per week) may be diagnosed with Shift Work Disorder (SWD) as classified by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2014). This classification is a useful diagnostic tool used in clinical and research settings and it is at its 3rd iteration.

According to ICSD-3, there are 60 diagnoses across 6 main categories: Insomnia, Sleep-related breathing disorders (e.g. sleep apnea), Central disorders of hypersomnolence (e.g. narcolepsy: falling asleep when you shouldn’t be), Parasomnias (e.g. sleepwalking or talking, sleep terrors), Sleep related-related movement disorders (e.g. restless leg syndrome) and Circadian rhythms sleep-wake disorders such as Shift Work Disorder (SWD) and Jet Lag Disorder. It’s estimated that 10-12% suffer from chronic insomnia (present for at least 3 months) as diagnosed by the ISCD-3 and about 40% present some insomnia symptoms (Morin et al., 2004).

With some form of sleep disorder affecting the majority of the population, it’s not surprising to see more mainstream channels examining the impact of sleep and indeed sleep disorders on the human mind and body. Our Fatigue Risk Management team here at Clockwork Research will be watching with interest!