Let’s Get Healthy! studies sleep and health in hospital employees

St. Charles employees check out Let’s Get Healthy! bright and early in the morning.

On January 30 – February 1, Let’s Get Healthy! traveled to Bend, Oregon, to kick off a one year study on sleep and health in employees at the St. Charles Medical Center. This study will examine how work schedule and sleep patterns may influence dietary habits, body composition, attention, and short-term memory among hospital employees. This event was our first trip to Bend and is part of an exciting new partnership between OHSU and St. Charles!

The kicker? In order to study the effects of sleep on workers, we had to experience sleep deprivation ourselves. We aimed to enroll participants in one fell swoop, where they could sign a consent form and complete our baseline health assessment in one sitting. Since our goal was to enroll hospital employees with a range of work schedules, we had to accommodate the 24/7 nature of a hospital workplace. We weren’t quite there 24/7, but seven members of Dr. Jackie Shannon’s research team—plus Allison McCormick, our collaborator at St. Charles—were at the hospital conference room from 4am – midnight one day and from 4am – 2pm the next day. Yep, that’s 30 hours over the course of two days. And that doesn’t include exhibit setup, volunteer training, and exhibit pack-up!

Despite the absurdity of 2:45am wake-up calls, the event was a success. We exceeded our enrollment goal of 200 participants, and we shared in group bonding that can only come from an extremely sleepy frontal lobe. Around hour 26 of the event, our programmer Stephano Cetola stared into the distance and said—tiredly, almost in a whisper, and to nobody in particular—“We are studying sleep deprivation in a very, very personal way.”

Submitted by: Adam Lipus, Let’s Get Healthy! Program Coordinator

About Let’s Get Healthy! We are an interactive education and research exhibit based out of CROET. We seek to educate the public about health in a fun way while linking scientists, students, and communities together in collaborative health research. Attendees of our events can visit various interactive stations to learn about their own health (e.g. diet, sleep quality, blood chemistry, and body composition) while also contributing their anonymous data for scientific research. The program started in 2007 and has held over two dozen events (with over 7000 participants!) across Oregon as well as in Washington state, Kansas, and Washington, D.C.! To learn more, visit our website, follow us on Facebook, or check out our video! Look for Let’s Get Healthy! at the 2013 Oregon Governor’s Safety and Health Conference!