My job

A passion for sleep measurement

IN ADDITION to being associate dean for scholarly affairs at the Yale School of Nursing, Yale University, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Professor Nancy Redeker is an active researcher focusing her efforts on research into sleep, sleep disorders and their consequences for adults with chronic illnesses. Professor Redeker won the 2011 American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year award for her book on sleep and sleep disorders; a book in which there was an emphasis on the need for research evidence to inform practice.

When and why did you develop an interest in research?

I went to graduate school with the intention of learning how to ‘teach’ nursing. As a requirement of the Masters of Science in Nursing program, I was expected to conduct a research project. I really enjoyed it and immersed myself in the work. I especially liked the process of conceptualising the study and conducting the data analysis. I found this a very creative process.

Who has been most influential in your career as a nurse and as a researcher?

My mother was a nurse and, although we never really discussed a future in nursing for me when I was growing up, I internalised her dedication to the field and her concern for her patients. There are too many people to mention who influenced my career as a researcher.

Much of your research has focused on sleep and the consequences of

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When and why did you develop an interest in research?

I went to graduate school with the intention of learning how to ‘teach’ nursing. As a requirement of the Masters of Science in Nursing program, I was expected to conduct a research project. I really enjoyed it and immersed myself in the work. I especially liked the process of conceptualising the study and conducting the data analysis. I found this a very creative process.

Who has been most influential in your career as a nurse and as a researcher?

My mother was a nurse and, although we never really discussed a future in nursing for me when I was growing up, I internalised her dedication to the field and her concern for her patients. There are too many people to mention who influenced my career as a researcher.

Much of your research has focused on sleep and the consequences of sleep deprivation. What do you consider to be the particular challenges for nurse researchers in this field?

Measurement of sleep is quite challenging. Sleep is a multidimensional patterned phenomenon and, therefore, it requires multiple measures, including self-report and objective measures such as actigraphy and polysomnography. The most interesting studies for me are those that integrate diverse measures obtained in ‘ecologically valid’ settings such as patients’ homes and hospital settings. Collecting these types of data is expensive and time consuming, but they provide a fuller picture of sleep than single measures.

Of all the research you have published, which do you think has been the most influential and why?

We conducted a study to evaluate the number, types and patterning of patient care interactions in intensive care units to determine whether these patients even had time to sleep (Tamburri et al 2004). This built on more than 30 years of studies of sleep deprivation in critical care units. Of all the studies I have conducted, this was probably the simplest; we did not even measure sleep. The study was picked up several years later by USA Today, suggesting that members of the public think sleep is important too.

Which of your achievements has given you the most satisfaction?

I serve as the principle investigator, with Klar Yaggi of the Yale Center for Sleep Disturbance in Acute and Chronic Illness. This interdisciplinary center is focused on building the science of sleep disturbance at Yale. It is exciting to work so closely with an interdisciplinary team and to build the science of sleep disturbance.

Sleep is a multidimensional phenomenon and requires multiple measures, including self-report and objective measures such as actigraphy and polysomnography

What research projects are you working on at the moment?

I am particularly interested in the dissemination and translation of efficacious sleep treatments to a variety of clinical settings. I am currently conducting a study of the use of cognitive behaviour therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) among patients with stable heart failure and a second study into the dissemination and translation of CBT-I into American primary care settings.

What tips would you give someone new to research in nursing?

Go with your passion. Pick a topic you like and stick to it.

What do you think the future has in store for nursing and nursing research?

With the growing interest in patient-centered outcomes, such as symptoms, self-management and health promotion, the role of nursing research will come to the forefront of the science of health. The public, as well as our professional and scientific colleagues, are increasingly aware of these important contributions.

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