Autumn/fall 2019 Newsletter

Hello, sleep OTs!   Thanks for your subscribing. The 2019 fall has officially arrived, and here is our 4th newsletter for the! In this update, you can find popular discussions and highlights on new research findings, conferences and events, and professional’s perspectives on occupational therapy for sleep problems in a beautiful layout!  Click here to download the pdf version of SleepOT Newsletter 2019.

New Research Findings

● Pet dogs help in the sleep environment of patients with chronic pain
● Hand self-shiatsu may improve sleep following sport-related concussion in young athletes
Conferences & Events

 The 2018 CBTI Training course for OTs  
The IKEA Sleep workshops  
The 2018 SSO: USA conference
What’s new on SleepOT?

Find the value of your OT career. An interview with Aaron
How did I come to focus on sleep OT? An interview with Verena


Pet dog help in the sleep environment of patients with chronic pain
A Study led by Cary A. Brown
Have you ever removed your pet dogs from the bedroom because you thought they might disturb your sleep? In fact, Cary’s recent study shows that pet dogs may play important roles in helping people with chronic pain achieve sleep onset and maintenance. The study carried out a content analysis of interview data on 7 participants with chronic pain and recorded their comments on the question “Does your dog have a positive or negative impact on your sleep?” As a result, over 80% of the comments showed that owning a dog had a positive effect on sleep. Participants offered numerous examples on how pet dogs facilitated their sleep hygiene with both physical and psychological improvements such as increased daytime activity, monitoring of breathing, maintenance of habits, routines, roles and responsibilities, stress/anxiety, reduction, sense of safety as well as companionship.

Interestingly, the study also noticed several participants’ reciprocal concern for the sleep of their pet dog that they even adopted strategies to help pet dogs who had pain or illness to get better sleep. The study shines a light on the important but yet neglected area focusing on the impact of pet dog ownership on sleep. Tonight, perhaps you can finally embrace your pet dog to sleep with a huge relief!

Click here to read the full text of Cary’s research.

Hand self-shiatsu may improve sleep following sport-related concussion in young athletes
A Study led by Pei Qin and Cary A. Brown
“HSS appears to hold promise as a pragmatic, side-effect-free, highly acceptable sleep intervention for young post-concussion athletes.”
The prevalence of sport-related concussion (SRC) is fairly high among young adults and can result in a number of serious health consequences. Among athletes with concussion, 35%-70% in all age groups reported post-concussion sleep problems, which makes sleep deficiency a common symptom after SRC. However, little is known about the relationship between SRC and sleep. 

In June 2018, a study from the University of Alberta found hand self-shiatsu (HSS) that has the potential to improve sleep and reduce daytime fatigue in young post-concussion athletes. Seven athletes diagnosed with SRC within the last 6 months and self-reported post-concussion sleep disturbance were recruited and taught with the same shiatsu approach. Their sleep efficiencies were later measured via standardized self-reported assessment tools and sleep actigraphy. 

As a result, although statistically significant improvement in actigraphy sleep scores between baseline and follow-up was not achieved, metrics for sleep quality and daytime fatigue showed significant improvement. This proof-of-concept study supports the hypothesis on the effectiveness of HSS on sleep improvement that appears to be a pragmatic, side-effect-free, highly acceptable sleep intervention for young post-concussion athletes.

Click here and you can get access to the original article.


CBTI Training course for OTs from the REST project successfully held this summer
A program led by Aaron Eakman and Natalie Rolle OTs gathered together to learn more about CBT-I this summer
Photo provided by Aaron Eakman“This was a wonderful course.”
“I’d give this workshop a very solid A.”
“I am inspired and excited to continue my education and training and adapt it to my passion population!”

Always being highly praised and recommended among occupational therapists as a great opportunity, the 2019 Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) training course undertaken by the REST project successfully concluded on 22nd June. Led by Dr. Aaron Eakman and Natalie Rolle from the CBTI for occupational therapy faculty in the Colorado State University, the two-and-a-half-day training course enabled attendees to gradually understand the foundational theories and models of sleep and insomnia as well as the latest evaluation and treatment approaches of CBT-I for sleep improvement.

Specifically, the training course highlighted the importance of sleep interventions on sleep disturbance, conducted peer consultation, combined with targeted readings of treatment manuals and practice papers, and conducted case studies to the position established occupational therapists to safely and effectively deliver CBTI.

“We helped attendees to discern how to identify sleep disturbances, how to identify if CBT-I is warranted, and how to deliver CBTI to improve sleep. By now, we have offered two courses and certainly will continue offering courses, to teach more occupational therapists on CBT-I,” said Dr. Aaron Eakman, Assistant Professor, working on trials of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia, one of the founders and organizers of the REST project and the CBTI course for OTs.

Please visit the REST project website for more information about the CBT-I training course.

Swiss OTs have held over 200 workshops in IKEA offering useful tips on sleep surroundings since 2016
A project led by Langlotz Kondzic Verena

“It was such a great opportunity to participate in spreading knowledge on sleep in Switzerland thus giving our profession a bigger platform.” We spend one-third of our life sleeping. However, according to the 2012 Swiss Health Survey, about one in four of the Swiss population are suffering from sleep disorders, having problems falling sleep or falling asleep, suffering from nightmares, or waking up too early in the morning.

Sleep supports important physical and mental processes in our body. For example, hormones support the growth and repair of muscle cells in the deep sleep phase. The REM phase, on the other hand, is important to process feelings and information in our brain. Therefore, sleep significantly influences our everyday life and is vital to our regeneration, well-being and daily performance. Besides, good sleep often relieves physical ailments.

As far as sleep is concerned, 12 professionals, mostly OT practitioners and some physiotherapists were trained at ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Science and have been delivering the Sleep Workshop to the lay people since 2016, collaborating with one of the world’s largest furniture retailers IKEA. During the one-hour workshops, they shared useful knowledge about sleep to the IKEA family members and customers in the stores, including the importance of the influence of sleep environment and the effective approaches to adapt the environment to improve sleep. Within 6 weeks, they had altogether organized 108 workshops among the 6 German-speaking IKEA shops, and this has since been repeated, totalling over 200 sleep workshops.

Nicole Ruefenacht, Swiss occupational therapist showing participants how to assess the spinal alignment in the workshop. Photograph: Rita Ziegler, ZHAW“I am convinced that we are well-suited as a profession to educate about sleep. We know what an important influence the environment is, and how to adapt it. We are experts in health education as well as behavioural change. As one sleep doctor once said: OTs could bridge the link between sleep science, sleep treatment and the daily life of people with sleep problems.– Verena

The project was led by Verena Langlotz Kondzic from the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Science.  By thoroughly preparing the educational material and encouraging OT professionals and students to take part in the workshops as speakers and workshop leaders, Verena successfully created a win-win deal to both health professionals and the public. The workshops raised public awareness on how to adapt their beds scientifically to improve sleep, which was an important issue that was often overlooked by most people.

Click here to know more about what Verena said about Sleep OTs’ role in public health education in her interview.

Sleep, restoration and occupation SSO: USA conference successfully held in October 2018
The Conference sponsored by the SSO: USA Sponsored by the Society for the Study of Occupation (SSO): USA, the Seventeenth Annual Research Conference took place in Lexington, Kentucky from 11 to 13 October 2018. The Conference was a great occasion to bring together 90 speakers and 135 attendees with diverse backgrounds in occupational therapy, sleep medicine, academic research and clinical medicine, exchanging their perspectives on one theme “Sleep and restoration”.The Conference started with an impressive speech conducted by the theme speaker Dr. Jo Solet in the pre-conference summit on Sleep OT. After that, a panel of occupational therapy and occupational science researchers and practitioners discussed the role of occupational therapy as “Catalyzing Occupation in Practice”. They also explored the potential strategies to develop the role of OT in serving individuals with sleep issues.In the next two-day sessions, nearly 90 speakers shared their empirical knowledge and cutting-edge science research outcomes through multiple types of presentations, exciting lively discussion and networking that contributes to the development of the science of occupation on sleep.Interestingly, every registrant of the Conference could receive a “Sleep Kit” prepared by the SSO: USA in their room during their stay in Lexington, including an eye mask, a lavender-scented potpourri, earplugs and nuts which was subtly in line with the theme of the conference.

About SSO: USA

The SSO:USA is a research society that strives to build the body of knowledge in occupational science to benefit humanity. The Society invites abstracts of in-progress or completed research, theory, or current issues in the study of occupation, or the activities that occupy our lives. Contributions from all sciences and professions are welcome. Format of the conference emphasized discussion and networking to enhance research.

In June 2019, we decided to open a new column “Interviews with OTs” to provide valuable information about OTs’ practical experience, academic career and unique perspective to help you better understand sleep problems and OTs’ role in sleep improvement. We invited sleepOT experts Aaron Eakman and Langlotz Kondzic Verena to talk about their academic career and experience in public health education with great honor for our first interviews. Meanwhile, we plan to add more interviews in the future with the help of another science communication student. If there’s someone you think would be interesting to interview, please let us know!

Aaron’s interview
Helping people with severe sleep disturbance get better sleep, truly impacting their quality of life and their overall well-being has convinced me to continue studying sleep and day-to-day activities and how occupational therapists can be a force to improve sleep.

Click here to read Aaron’s interview article.

Verena’s interview
“When I realized that addressing sleep, specifically the sleep environment, could bring quicker and more sustainable results to my clients, I was determined to spread this practical knowledge within the German-speaking OT community and beyond.”

Click here to read Verena’s interview article.

Many thanks…
 “You might have noticed that the sleepOT newsletter is looking much more flash than usual, has more content, and a more journalistic style!  This is thanks to Science Communication master’s student Yunke Xu, who has worked with contributors from sleepOT for her graduation project Professional communication among healthcare providers: Developing online communication materials on sleep disorders for occupational therapists.  Yunke’s enthusiasm and science communication perspective has made me re-evaluate how I communicate about the importance of sleep and of occupation, and has reaffirmed for me the value of having a site and a network which can bring us together to share our related missions!  Thanks Yunke!” – Sophie Faulkner