Did you know that 25% of the general adult population has difficulty falling or staying asleep? For people with hectic schedules who are time-stressed, this number rises to 40 %.
Understanding your body clocks
Your body clocks (yes, you have more than one!) are called circadian rhythms, which are your body’s internal timing mechanisms. These rhythms are even present in all level of your body (even your cells have clocks!), and they regulate your sleep-wake cycle, along with your body temperate, heart rate, alertness, mood, hormone production, and energy levels throughout the day.
The Douglas Institute is a leading international centre for research on sleep and circadian rhythms in both adults and children. Research on circadian rhythms enables us to care more effectively for a wide variety of health problems, such as heart conditions, cancer, etc. We are just beginning to understand how malfunctions in one’s circadian rhythms can contribute to a range of physical and mental illnesses.
Major research program = advances in knowledge
A generous 5-year commitment from Standard Life has helped three researchers at the Douglas who study sleep and circadian rhythms make their work accessible to the general public and help people take charge of their own health.
Reut Greuber, PhD, founded the “Sleep for Success” program. Members of her lab train teachers in elementary schools on how to teach children about the importance of respecting their bedtime and establishing a bedtime ritual. They also provide fun and interactive pedagogical tools. Gruber’s lab also offers thorough information to parents and teachers on the Institute website.
Dr. Diane Boivin is the Director of the Centre for Study and Treatment of Circadian Rhythms at the Douglas and one of Canada’s leading researchers in this field. She is an expert scientist on fatigue management for numerous companies and has received the Young Investigator Award Distinction from the Sleep Research Society. With the help of the Standard Life commitment, she and her team have produced some comprehensive yet easy-to-understand pages on the Institute website, including tips on increasing sleep quality and adjusting to jet lag.
Nicolas Cermakian, PhD, was a winner of the Heinz Lehmann Award, which is granted to a young researcher for advancing knowledge in the field of mental health. Thanks to the contribution of Standard Life, Mr. Cermakian organized the largest and most significant Canadian conference on circadian rhythms ever, which was held at the Douglas in June. Two free public lectures were offered, one of which was about why circadian rhythms are important in cancer therapy.
Philanthropy and knowledge transfer
These are all great examples of philanthropy making a difference in the home, workplace, and the community. Only by understanding how our bodies work can we make better lifestyle choices.
The Foundation thanks Standard Life for supporting the Douglas in fulfilling its mandate to transfer knowledge to healthcare practitioners, patients and their families, decision-makers, and the general public.
If you are interested in reading more about circadian rhythms, please visit the following pages: