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The Sleep Research Society and its members urge Congress to make sleep training and research a priority, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Transportation (DoT), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) respective research projects and initiatives. The following are recommendations and initiatives being undertaken or proposed by the respective agencies.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Career Training Opportunities - The SRS strongly supports the NIH's commitment to research training. Career training opportunities must be expanded for biomedical research professionals in order to address the safety risk of sleep disorders on society. Career development grants are crucial to the recruitment of promising young researchers, and to the continuing education of established investigators. The SRS encourages the NIH, or other research agencies to commit to training in the field of sleep research through mechanisms such as the K & T awards.
Sleep Research Network - Addressing the role of sleep and sleep disorders in public health and longevity requires large cohort studies. Multi-institute collaborative research networks are needed in order to conduct these studies.
Institute Engagement - The SRS frequently requests that Board members attend meetings or engage in opportunities at NIH. Most notably, SRS Advocacy Taskforce members have engaged the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) and Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board (SDRAB), the National Institute of Aging (NIA), National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), and the Office of the Director on overarching initiatives of the NIH including the Precision Medicine and BRAIN Initiatives.
Key Outcomes from SRS Engagement include:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC along with American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 2013 began the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project (NHSAP), with the aim of increasing public health awareness of sleep disorders and sleep health. More specifically its goals include reducing motor vehicle accidents due to drowsy driving, increasing medical treatment options for people suffering from sleep disorders, and increasing the number of adults, teens, and children who get sufficient, healthy sleep.
The Department of Defense (DoD)
The Department of Defense through the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) are finding that active military personnel are affected by sleep apnea, insomnia, disrupted sleep-wake rhythms, and fatigue related to post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. For the past several years, SRS has recommended to Congress that they include sleep disorders as a specified condition of study in the PRMRP and as a result, sleep research has thrived within the agency and researchers have been successful in competing for grants.
The Department of Transportation (DoT)
The Department of Transportation along with local lawmakers, sleep research experts, transportation experts, law enforcement, and the public convened in early November 2015 for a drowsy driving forum. At the forum they discussed implications of drowsy driving and gave recommendations for moving forward on reducing and eliminating deaths associated with drowsy driving. Among other topics discussed was increased interagency cooperation to help mitigate risks associated with drowsy driving, including screening for sleep disorders through biomarker development.
Veteran’s Affairs (VA)
The VA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) currently includes a robust portfolio on Sleep Research through clinical, basic, and translational research projects. The VA ORD is expanding their Million Veterans Program (MVP), which is a large database of veterans currently consisting of over 400,000 participants. The database, among other things, poses questions about sleep health, including obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep disorders have been shown to affect vets disproportionately.