In April 2020, the Sleep Foundation released sleep guidelines to address the growing COVID-19 pandemic. As multiple nations began to institute a variety of lockdowns and closures, millions of people had the rhythms of their daily lives disrupted.
Traditional extrinsic markers of time — such as set times for work, school, or other activities — began to erode, and with it, so did the boundaries of when we should sleep and wake-up.
The stress and isolation of the pandemic also gave way to increased rates of depression and anxiety, an increase in screen time, and as a result, an overall decrease in the sleep quality of the population.
Why Did We Do This:
The United States is nearing one year since its first full-scale lockdowns, and with it, the profound disruption of daily life.
We checked in with four sleep experts on what trends they’ve seen in sleep health in their clinics and in studies over the past year. We wanted to gain a better understanding of how they’ve seen their patients cope with the duration of the pandemic, what issues have presented in their clinics, and how the pandemic has created new opportunities for practicing medicine and seeing patients.
What Did We Do:
On January 29, 2021, the Chairman and Strategic Advisor of Sleep Foundation, David Cloud, gathered four sleep experts to hold a roundtable conversation. The two-hour conversation occurred over Zoom, and the pages below feature their individual responses in the form of a Q&A. Each transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and concision.
Click the names of the experts below to read their full interview transcript.
Moderator: David Cloud
David Cloud is a strategic advisor to sleep technology companies and organizations. For 13 years he served as the National Sleep Foundation CEO developing its award-winning websites, guidelines (e.g. sleep duration recommendations) as well as the introduction of sleep technology and testing standards. Prior to NSF, Mr. Cloud owned a private company in Boston that served academic surgical associations. A Chicago native where he earned his MBA, he began his career with the American Medical Association engaged in strategic planning and advocacy.
Dr. Geneviève Forest earned a Ph.D. in Neuropsychology from Université de Montréal in 2001 and completed postdoctoral studies in sleep and chronobiology at the University of Ottawa.
Dr. Forest has been a full professor in the Department of Psychoeducation and Psychology at the Université du Québec in Outaouais since 2004.
Her main research interests focus on the role of sleep in psychological, emotional, and cognitive functions as well as the impact of sleep deprivation on these functions.
Dr. Brian Abaluck earned his BS in Molecular Biology from Yale University and his MD from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed a residency in neurology at the University of Michigan and a fellowship in sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. His practice in Malvern, Pennsylvania cares for patients with sleep disorders and connects these patients to trials of novel medicines and devices.
Helene A. Emsellem, MD, is the Director of The Center of Sleep & Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and a Clinical Professor of Neurology at George Washington University. She enjoys all aspects of sleep medicine, including direct patient care, research into new agents and devices for the management of sleep disorders, teaching, and public advocacy about the importance of sleep. Dr. Emsellem wrote the book Snooze… or Lose! Ten No-War Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits to help teens and parents understand the unique aspects of adolescent sleep.
Dr. Michael Thorpy is a Professor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in the Department of Neurology at Montefiore Medical Center, both in New York. In addition to treating patients with sleep disorders, he conducts research in narcolepsy, insomnia, and sleep apnea.
Born in New Zealand, Dr. Thorpy earned his medical degree from the University of Otago Medical School. After receiving postgraduate training in Dunedin, New Zealand; Bombay, India; and London, England, he completed his residency in neurology at the State University of New York in Syracuse and a neuroendocrinology fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. Dr. Thorpy is board certified in sleep disorders medicine.