Healthwatch 16: Geisinger Involved with In-depth Sleep Study

GEISINGER MEDICAL CENTER -- Think about all that's affected when you don't get a good night's sleep.

Doctors say your cognition and memory are impaired and your appetite is affected, just to name a few. Sleep is critically important to our health.

Geisinger Health System is one of several organizations now involved in a sleep study.

The room may look like what you'd find in a hotel, but it's actually an exam room, one of eight beds at a sleep lab near Geisinger's Woodbine facility, outside Danville.

Dr. Anne Marie Morse met us to talk about a new study in which she's involved called STAGES.

"It stands for Stanford Technology Analytics Genomics and Sleep, which is comprehensive of what we're looking at," said Dr. Morse.

Geisinger is working with Stanford University, along with a handful of other sites in the U.S. and Canada, to take what Dr. Morse calls a "deep dive" into what is causing sleep disorders.,

"It gives us an opportunity to look at patients who have a suspected sleep disorder, then look at factors contributing to developing it or the consequence."

Of the 30,000 patients who'll be enrolled in the study, the lead investigator at Stanford hopes more than 11,000 of them, or about one-third of the patients, will come from Geisinger's patient pool.

Sleep disorders, according to Dr. Morse, are one of the biggest health challenges facing us now.

"If you were to look at the 1900s, the average adult slept an average of nine hours a night. Over time, that is declining. At this point, an average adult sleeps five, six hours per night," said Dr. Morse.

"A lot of people want to know how much work it'll be. People want to know, how is it going to help me or help others?" said project manager Kristina Blessing.

Kristina Blessing works in clinical research for Geisinger and is the project manager. She says participants will need to do a blood draw, answer some questions, and wear a device around their wrist for a few weeks.

"We're going to give them one of these actigraphers. (You) wear it like a Fitbit or any other fitness tracker so we can get a look at what activity is like during the day," Blessing explained.

Researchers will also be taking a 3-D image of each participant's head to take inner measurements.

So far, patient response to the study has been good.

"We actually just reached our 100th patient. We just started enrolling patients one to three months ago. We're ramping up. Our goal would be to get upwards of 300 people per month," Dr. Morse said.

Anyone who will be getting an in-lab sleep study and who is 13 years or older is eligible to be part of the STAGES study, which will be ongoing for the next 3-plus years.

If you're interested in participating, you can get more information here.

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