Research on health effects of sleep features in BBC1 documentary ‘The truth about…sleep’

V0011624 A hospital ward for insomniacs. Pen drawing by G.E. Studdy(?I have been working on sleep and health for around 7 years now. When I first started there was very little interest. A clinician, on a national funding committee, said to me “why are you worried? Sleep is natural…” I think this attitude is finally changing.

Graham LawYou may have seen an increased interest in the media in relation to sleep. There are news articles, nearly daily, about the new research and the ‘dangers’ of bad sleep. I suppose they need to sell papers. I was recently part of a BBC1 programme (‘The truth about…sleep’) with Michael Mosely. They approached us to conduct some sort of experiment. Working with my colleague (Dr Eleanor Scott) we recorded the blood glucose in 6 participants for a week. During this time, they were required to reduce their time asleep by 3 hours on 2 consecutive nights.

The results took us by surprise. We know that this should have some sort of impact, but all six participants had raised glucose the days after their sleep restriction. And the rise was around 0,5mmol/L which, as well as being statistically significant, is clinically significant. I am busy writing this up for a journal.

Hopefully, we are going to carry on this idea by looking at shift-workers. That is the plan….

By Prof Graham Law

Professor Graham Law joins the School of Health and Social Care and CaHRU as Professor of Medical Statistics

Graham Law, appointed Professor of Medical Statistics, joined the School of Health and Social Care in February 2017. He has worked for 23 years in medical and healthcare research and student education. He has published many papers and books in a wide range of different fields such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular epidemiology, gastrointestinal disease, pregnancy and childbirth.

Graham LawOver the past six years he has been working on sleep research, using both experiments and observations. On sleep he has published papers using the National ‘Understanding Society’, with colleagues in Copenhagen and Cambridge on glucose control in people with diabetes, and using a cohort of women with gestational diabetes. These projects included a paper recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Graham attracted investment for, set up and ran the Leeds ‘Sound Asleep Laboratory’ and is on the UK Biobank Sleep Expert Group. He is Honorary Secretary of the British Sleep Society and in June is publishing a book titled ‘Sleep Better: from myth to science’.

Recently Graham has developed an interest in a statistical field known as Functional Data Analysis, where you stop reducing data to a single number such as the mean, and try to accept, exploit and embrace complexity. Using this he has published, for example, papers on change in birth weight immediately following delivery (used by the WHO publication ‘Beyond Survival’ published in 2013) and changes in glucose during the day and night (for example in Diabetes Care and NEJM).

He is currently working on a number of cohorts including using accelerometer data to assess sleep in the UK Biobank data. This collected data on 100 000 people wearing an accelerometer (think of a Fitbit) for a week.

New study shows that one third of patients with diabetes attended by an ambulance for severe hypoglycaemia transported to hospital

EMAS - A&E 5A new study has been published in Primary Care Diabetes on ‘Severe hypoglycaemia requiring emergency medical assistance by ambulance services in the East Midlands: a retrospective study’. Hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar is important because this may be linked to greater risk of death.

The study involved a new collaboration between the University of Leicester Cardiovascular and Diabetes group (Professors Kamlesh Khunti and Melanie Davies), University of Bristol (Harriet Fisher),  University of Queensland, Australia (Sanjoy Paul),University of Lincoln and East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust (Mohammad Iqbal, Professor Niro Siriwardena).

The study aimed to report the characteristics, treatment and provider costs for people with diabetes requiring an emergency ambulance for severe hypoglycaemia and involved an analysis of routinely collected data on 90,435 emergency calls collected over four months by the East Midlands Ambulance Trust, UK.

There were 523 (0.6%) ambulance attendances for severe hypoglycaemia, with an incidence of 2.76 per 100 patient years: 28% of events occurred at night and 32% of those attended were transported to hospital. Those patients with a higher respiratory rate, indicating difficulty breathing, were more likely to be transported to hospital, whereas patients on treatment with insulin and those with higher blood glucose after treatment of hypoglycaemia were less likely to be transported to hospital.

Median ambulance costs were higher at £176 for individuals not transported to hospital whereas those transported cost £92 reflecting the greater time ambulance staff spent with patients who were enabled to remain at home.

The research team are planning further studies investigating longer term outcomes of prehospital care for hypoglycaemia as part of CaHRU’s Prehospital and Emergency Quality and Outcomes (PEQO) programme.