Ann Arbor, Mich. - The University of Michigan Center for Sleep Science isn't dozing off when it comes to comprehensive patient care, research, and education. It is now one of only three institutions to be named a Comprehensive Academic Sleep Program of Distinction by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
The academy praised U-M for its milestone achievement. The recognition is based on evidence of across-the-board achievement as demonstrated by an accredited Sleep Disorders Center, externally funded research, peer-reviewed publications, a nationally accredited training program for sleep specialists, and productive mentorship of future sleep researchers. U-M has 43 faculty affiliated with its academic sleep program from more than 15 different departments in disciplines ranging from neurology to dentistry to mathematics.
That wide-ranging interest is indicative of how sleep affects so many disciplines and serves critical functions for many aspects of health, says Ronald D. Chervin, M.D., a professor of neurology and sleep specialist who co-directs the Center for Sleep Science.
"There is virtually no part of the human body that sleep doesn't affect and physicians and researchers are now just beginning to understand this," Chervin says. "We spend about one-third of our lives doing it … but sleep remains one of the last frontiers of human biology."
Sleep patterns become even more crucial as students head back to school and are switching from a less rigid summer schedule to early morning classes, Chervin says. The best advice is to set a very regular schedule that is similar every day and on weekends, he said.
"It is hard to change your sleep schedule," he adds. "Kids often sleep late over the summer, and may need to adjust when school starts again, but adequate sleep is essential to being alert and functioning well."
That also goes for adults, Chervin says. Sleep is often neglected, but is related to how long you live, cardiovascular health, immunity, weight, mental health and quality of life.
Educating doctors about the importance of sleep and treating sleep disorders is a key goal of U-M's sleep program, says Ralph Lydic, professor of anesthesiology and associate chair for research in U-M's Departments of Anesthesiology & Molecular and Integrative Physiology. Lydic also is a co-director for the Center for Sleep Science and teaches an undergraduate course on sleep that attracted 147 students this fall.
U-M's commitment to encouraging faculty from numerous disciplines to collaborate on sleep science really is key to the program's success, Lydic says. There is a great exchange between basic researchers and clinical scientists, he adds.
The U-M Center for Sleep Science, which was founded in 2007, puts U-M fifth among U.S. institutions in National Institutes of Health awards for clinical, preclinical, and translational sleep science and includes one of the oldest, largest, and most innovative clinical sleep disorders centers. The center trains six sleep specialists each year and many more post-doctoral fellows take part in U-M's Sleep Science Graduate Training program.
The distinction award from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine allows U-M to compete for a yearly grant for sponsorship of a sleep research fellow and awards U-M a yearly grant to allow a fellow to travel to the academy's annual meeting. U-M went through a rigorous application to get the distinction, which requires a yearly update and lasts for five years.
The only other institutions to receive the honor are the University of Louisville and Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard University Medical Center.
"An NIH grant review recently commented that the Center for Sleep Science should be considered a ‘poster child' for U-M" when it comes to an interdisciplinary field organized in parallel to traditional departments, Chervin says. "We have unusual opportunities to collaborate across a large campus, and this in addition to the quality of our programs positions us well to provide leading-edge patient care, expand what we know about sleep, and train the people who will one day be doing all this even better than we can now."
Back to school sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
Children aged five to 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep and teenagers need at least nine hours. Demands on their time from school, sports, extracurricular and social activities, television, computers, media, the Internet and caffeine products, can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to their sleep.
- Teach school-aged children about healthy sleep habits.
- Set a regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine.
- Make child's bedroom conducive to sleep - dark, cool and quiet.
- Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Watching TV close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours.