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March 10, 2022

UArizona experts available for Sleep Awareness Week, World Sleep Day

The themes for this year's national Sleep Awareness Week and World Sleep Day center around how sleep can help us create the best versions of ourselves and society. University of Arizona experts can speak to various aspects of sleep during Sleep Awareness Week, March 13-19, and World Sleep Day, March 18.

Every year, the National Sleep Foundation takes a week to emphasize the important connection between sleep and health. This year, the theme is "helping you become your Best Slept Self." 

Additionally, the World Sleep Society promotes World Sleep Day every Friday before the spring equinox. The slogan for the 15th annual celebration of sleep is "Quality Sleep, Sound Mind, Happy World." 

Patricia Haynes, a UArizona associate professor of health promotion sciences, describes sleep as a buffer between us and the world.  

"When we haven't slept well, the buffer gets super thin. Stressful events, or even just daily hassles, hit us harder," Haynes said. "We get more irritable, and we ruminate more. When we get good quality sleep, we have more of a buffer. Stressors don't bother us as much, and things bounce off of us more. It's a subtle way that sleep helps us cope with everyday life. Sleep keeps us from being reactive and allows us to use a more proactive approach with difficult situations."   

Sleep benefits physical health as well. 

"University of Arizona research and the research of others has demonstrated that individuals with regular sleep schedules have smaller waist sizes," Haynes said. "This is important because waist size is a key predictor of chronic disease, like diabetes. Sleep regularity, duration, quality and timing are important to consider in the prevention of heart disease. Earlier sleep timing can even prevent migraines." 

Sleep is good for society at large, too. 

"Sleep helps you put effort into tasks and solve problems creatively," she said. "Leaders who want satisfied, productive, innovative employees and citizens should invest in programs to improve sleep."  

Haynes and other UArizona sleep researchers are available for interviews about various sleep topics.

Sleep and Adult Physical and Mental Health

  • Patricia Haynes, an associate professor of health promotion sciences, studies how different kinds of stressors affect sleep, social rhythms, mental health and health behaviors.
  • Mary-Frances O'Connor, an associate professor of psychology, directs the Grief, Loss and Social Stress Lab and studies how bereavement and mental health impact sleep and vice versa.

Sleep Intervention and Therapies

  • E. Fiona Bailey is a physiology professor and member of the BIO5 Institute and the UArizona Women's Sleep Research Collaborative. Her research focuses on adults with obstructive sleep apnea and the potential for abbreviated respiratory muscle strength training to reduce blood pressure and improve vascular health.
  • Psychiatry professor William D. S. Killgore directs the Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab. He studies how morning light therapy can improve sleep and consequently help heal traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder in military personnel. He also studies the effects of sleep deprivation and caffeine on cognitive performance and emotional functioning and is currently investigating a potential application of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to facilitate sleep in people with insomnia.
  • Fabian-Xosé Fernandez, an assistant professor of psychology, studies how high-precision sequences of light stimulation can be used to improve circadian rhythms, sleep and other aspects of mental and physical health. His lab is also examining the link between being awake in the middle of the night, or "nocturnal wakefulness," and suicide.
  • Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy, a professor of medicine who directs the UArizona Health Sciences' Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences and the Banner – University Medical Center Tucson's Center for Sleep Disorders, studies adherence to positive airway pressure therapy in patients with sleep apnea. He also studies sleep in critically ill patients and telemedicine approaches for delivering insomnia treatments to survivors of recent hospitalization.

Child and Adolescent Sleep

  • Psychology professor Rebecca Gomez runs the university's Child Cognition Lab, where she studies the importance of sleep for learning, memory and development in infants and young children.
  • Licensed psychologist Michelle Perfect, an associate professor in the Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies, examines factors that affect sleep quality, quantity and schedules. She also studies how sleep impacts physical and mental health, as well as school outcomes in students with and without chronic medical conditions. Her team developed and evaluated the efficacy of elementary sleep science education and behavior-based sleep interventions for youth with Type 1 diabetes.
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  • Dr. Daniel Combs, an assistant professor of pediatrics and medicine, directs the pediatric Sleep Medicine Program through the Banner University Medical Group. His research focuses on sleep disorders in children with chronic medical conditions. He has published research on sleep and health disparities, as well screening for sleep disorders in children.
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Media contact:
Mikayla Mace Kelley
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2020 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $761 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

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