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Michael A. Grandner, Ph.D., Arizona College of Medicine, provides an overview of the many aspects of sleep, how it impacts functioning, and the ways we can improve the quality of our sleep.

Dr. Grandner is an experienced researcher, noted speaker, and respected colleague at many prestigious institutions. He serves as the director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, and as director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at the Banner-University Medical Center. Additionally, Dr. Grandner is an assistant professor in the departments of psychiatry and medicine in the UA College of Medicine, assistant professor of psychology in the UA College of Science, as well as an assistant professor of nutritional sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is certified in behavioral sleep medicine by the American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Dr. Grandner discusses the connections between sleep and health and how it plays an important role in many and various areas of functioning. He states that a lot of their research focuses on finding ways to help with sleep improvement. He looks at quality and quantity of sleep, timing, when people are sleeping, and why. He gives details on the range of ways they study sleep in their laboratory. He talks about the various types of emerging technologies that can assist them in measuring the aspects of sleep. As sleep exists deep in the brain, it is impossible to perfectly measure sleep, thus Dr. Grandner states that they must measure around it, guessing at other measures such as movement and brain wave activity, etc.

Achieving healthy sleep is crucial for great overall health, cardiovascular health, and is also an important factor in obesity, diabetes, and psychological well being. And as such, when we don’t get enough of it, or the quality level is low, functioning can be impacted in many ways. Interestingly, Dr. Grandner points out that many people actually degrade their own opportunity to achieve quality sleep by reinforcing periods of insomnia. As he states, the best thing to do when you’re in bed and can’t sleep is to get up. Lying in bed and trying to fight it only reinforces the state, essentially teaching your brain that bedtime is a time for brain activity and thought. Thus getting out of bed and taking on some sort of activity until you feel ready to sleep could prove helpful.

Dr. Grandner outlines some of the research and interesting studies his team is involved with currently as well as other studies on the horizon. Current research focuses on the ways sleep and sleep-related behaviors could be connected to cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, neurocognitive functioning, mental health, and even longevity. Their projects have been funded by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the American Heart Association (AHA).

Their community-based studies consider a vast swath of issues from the social environment, access to care, stress, diet, and exercise, as well as aspects of cardiometabolic functioning, to look at the ways sleep is related to each. Dr. Grandner seeks to develop new tools to help people gauge the kind of sleep they are getting and how to improve it. In regard to sleep, Dr. Grandner states, it is not something that you can command. We need to give ourselves the right environment, mentally and physically, that will allow sleep to happen. He discusses the quality versus the quantity, and the ways to evaluate that, as well as the importance of regular sleep patterns.

Dr. Grandner discusses the internal body clocks that govern function, and the various types of personalities and genes that play a role in sleep schedules. He discusses the sleep-wake system versus the circadian system, which relates to the biological process that displays an endogenous, entrainable oscillation of approximately 24 hours. He explains how hormone shifts and rhythms can be changed, shifted, and blunted, and how light can help with making adjustments, in regard to the winter blues, seasonal affective disorder, etc.

Dr. Grandner has published over 100 articles and chapters on myriad issues relating to sleep and health. His significant work in the field has been cited over 2,500 times. Dr. Grandner is associate editor of the recognized journal, Sleep Health, and he serves on the editorial boards of various other journals: SLEEP, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, Sleep Medicine, and others. He is a sought-after speaker on the connection between sleep and good health and as such has been invited often to the National Institutes of Health, and has presented for the US Congress.

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