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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

UPMC Media Relations

​University Of Pittsburgh Researchers To Study "Short Sleepers"

PITTSBURGH, August 3, 1998 — Sleep researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic have been awarded the first year of a three-year, $782,000 grant by NASA to study "short sleepers," who can get by on six or fewer hours of sleep each night without feeling drowsy or taking naps.

According to Timothy H. Monk, professor of psychiatry, the Pitt researchers hope to find a pencil-and-paper method for identifying true naturally short sleepers, examine how they differ from others in terms of sleep, circadian and other physiological and psychological measures, and determine whether a new medicine could be used to allow medium sleepers to "sleep short" without negative daytime consequences.

"This work arises from our experiments with actual astronauts in space, who seem to need remarkably little sleep," commented Dr. Monk. "We want to find out why this is so because it has great relevance on the ground as well. Work hours are ever increasing and many folks are taking second or even third jobs to maintain their standard of living as real wages decline. Often, the only way they have a chance to see their loved ones is to short-change themselves in sleep. Usually this results in drowsiness, which can sometimes be dangerous."

For more information about psychiatry or to learn about current research studies, visit the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic Web site.



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