Developing smarter ways to sleep

May 17, 2019

Experts at the CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) are collaborating with institutions and industry to potentially help millions of people improve their sleep health.

Alertness CRC

Dr David White, Harvard professor and chief scientific officer at Philips Respironics.

Sleep disorders and inadequate sleep can cause real harm, so the Alertness CRC is working with institutions and industry partners, including global tech giant Philips, on solutions.

“If you’re sleepy or sleep deprived, your performance goes down, your attention to detail and vigilance goes down, reaction time gets worse, your executive function gets worse, and your mood gets worse,” says Dr David White, Harvard professor and chief scientific officer at Philips Respironics. “That leads to higher absenteeism and decreased productivity in the workplace.” With two in five Australians not getting enough sleep, the economic cost was an estimated $26.2 billion in lost productivity in 2016–2017.

Poor sleep is also linked to serious health problems. “Sleep disorders can lead to mental illnesses, cardiovascular, kidney and urinary tract disease, diabetes and loss of cognitive function,” says White.

That further loss of personal wellbeing was valued at $40.1 billion in 2016–2017.

The Alertness CRC has partnered with sleep physicians and specialists in developing a range of clinically validated tools that could really make a difference to people’s lives, including the lives of family members who can also be affected by another person’s poor sleep.

“For a wide variety of reasons, the vast majority of people do not address theirsleep problems, such as sleep apnoea or insomnia, so they remain undiagnosed and untreated,” says White. “In this research partnership, we are collaboratively working on ways to help consumers improve their sleep as easily and effectively as possible.”

Brendan Fitzpatrick

This article was published in KnowHow Issue 9.

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