Dr. Conrad began his career studying patterns of sleep interruption and doing work in various areas of epidemiology, and lately he’s been working to improve population health and sleep conditions while entering the realm of policy and population management within larger healthcare systems.
More recently, he’s been working in conjunction with the University of Minnesota on the evaluation of school start time issues and the connection between sleep, obesity, and adolescent health.
“Adolescents have by nature a delay in their sleep schedule, beginning roughly around the age of 12…independent of their tendency to surf the internet and study late into the evening, there’s perhaps a stronger drive to go to bed later and get up later,” says Dr. Iber. As quasi-experimental evidence of this, some schools that have tried out later start times have seen better academic performance, fewer car accidents, improved moods and attention spans, and better overall sleep health. Conversely, a study out of Fairfax, VA found higher suicide rates, weight gain, and decreased academic performance among adolescents who regularly get fewer than five to six hours of sleep. So, why haven’t widespread reforms been implemented?
Dr. Iber provides the answer to this question and many others, discussing a range of topics to include the latest advances in sleep medicine, such as the increased use of home monitoring and wearable devices to track sleep duration among patients who can’t make it to a sleep clinic for in-house studies. He also touches on the increased emphasis being placed on police officers, health care providers, bus drivers, and other public service members to improve their sleep health. According to Dr. Iber, there is a growing awareness and acceptance of the importance of sleep, which is nothing but positive for individuals and public health in general. Interested in learning more? Press play for all the details.