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Media Release

November 14 2007

Remote students' insight into high tech sleep

UniSA's Centre for Sleep ResearchA group of school children from the Urapunga School in the Northern Territory will see first hand the benefits of sleep and sleep research tomorrow when they visit the Centre for Sleep Research at the University of South Australia.

The group of mainly Indigenous students will get some hands-on experiences of high technology university operations when they visit the UniSA’s sleep research laboratory at City East Campus, Level 7, Playford building.

The school students will have the chance to lie in and test out a Sleep Pod; try their hands at the driving simulators – used to measure the impact of lack of sleep on driver safety; and to see and experience how people are wired-up and monitored during clinical sleep tests.

The 40-strong Urapunga School population will also take part in a UniSA sleep study being carried out by Clinical Masters student Patrick Cooper. Cooper says while there have been several studies of sleep patterns of children in the past, his will be the first study of sleep patterns in Indigenous children in a remote community. It is also the first study to use tools which actually measure activity levels.

UniSA sleep expert, Dr Sarah Blunden says she wants the visit to be a memorable one for the students.

“I want them to see just how exciting and practical tertiary study can be, and how the research programs we undertake help to improve lives. By taking part in the study as a school group, we hope they’ll see the value of their own contribution to that research and feel more engaged in the research and curious about university study.

“The effects of children’s sleeping patterns is an area of great significance for our society. It is increasingly clear that children’s wellbeing is linked to adequate, quality sleep. Inadequate sleep has been found to detrimentally affect school performance and behaviour.

“Through this study there will be greater insight into children’s sleep patterns and their impacts across a much broader cross section of Australian society.”

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