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30th January 2020 Sleep

Improving health through sleep

Man lying a bed with CPAP sleep mask

Groundbreaking trials at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health (AISH).

Sleep is vital to our health and wellbeing. With four in 10 Australians reported as having regular inadequate sleep, more is needed to be done to fix this chronic health problem.

Thanks to the support of THRF’s donors and ticket buyers in the Hospital Research Home Lottery, researchers are making significant breakthroughs in their understanding of sleep and chronic sleep conditions and the impact they have on our overall health.

Leading the way is the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health (AISH) at Flinders University, which has recently built a new state-of-the-art research facility to continue its lifesaving work.

AISH Director Professor Danny Eckert said the new facility, co-funded by THRF, had a six-bedroom acoustically-treated laboratory with the latest technology to measure respiratory and brain function, test for the impacts of environmental noise on sleep and conduct live-in sleep deprivation and circadian experiments.

“The facilities allow us to combine clinical, physiology, psychology and engineering expertise in a world-class environment to tackle the major burden of sleep problems in the community,” Prof Eckert said.

“We are grateful for the support from THRF to bring these facilities to life.”

Fighting sleep apnoea with new drug therapy

The Institute is currently running two clinical trials to help develop the first ever medication to treat obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a condition which is also an underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke.

OSA is commonly treated with a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure) but it is hoped a new drug therapy can open up the airways and improve sufferers’ sleep.

“The aim of the first study is to determine the effects of a combination of drug therapies (collectively called AD173) on sleep efficiency in people with OSA,” Prof Eckert said.

“We will also be looking at the effect of these combined agents on the arousal threshold – how often you wake up during the night – and other sleep and breathing parameters. We will also measure sleepiness and next day alertness.”

Prof Eckert said another trial was being undertaken simultaneously to measure different doses of one of the drugs (called AD-036) versus a placebo.

“This second study is expected to provide guidance on the ideal dose of AD-036 and a deeper understanding on the safety and tolerability of the use of these medicines in people with sleep apnoea.

“The outcomes will greatly inform future treatments and give patients with low tolerance to CPAP machines an alternative option to treat their sleep apnoea.”

The team is looking for men and women with OSA (who are otherwise healthy and meet other eligibility requirements) to participate in these trials. Contact AISH on 08 7421 9873 or email [email protected] to find out more.

Sleep studies vital for people like Geoff

One person who knows all too well about the potentially life-threatening risks of obstructive sleep apnoea is Geoff Thomas, who has been dealing with the condition for 15 years.

“Research has come a long way since I was first diagnosed with sleep apnoea back in 2004,” Geoff said.

Obstructive sleep apnoea affects an estimated one in 10 Australians and is characterised by complete or partial blockages in a person’s airway while they are sleeping.

Geoff works closely with the team at the AISH as he feels passionate about advancing knowledge to save lives. He also sits on their External Advisory Committee as a consumer representative.

“The research being conducted at the AISH is a game-changer and will improve the lives of those living with sleep apnoea and other life-threatening sleep conditions,” Geoff said.