Professor Niro Siriwardena led the recent Lincoln Institute for Health (LIH) research development seminar entitled, ‘Things that go bump in the night': exploring the problem of tinnitus and sleep.
This seminar brought together researchers at the University of Lincoln with a common interest in sleep research to explore interdisciplinary research into insomnia. Several research centres, groups and experts from a number of disciplines are members of the LIH and each have a record of funded studies investigating sleep and insomnia in a variety of conditions. The work builds on the University of Lincoln’s 4* impact case study on insomnia from REF2014.
The seminar focused on how to combine different research approaches to explore how the team might improve the management of insomnia linked to tinnitus. This began with presentations from each participant on their experience and current work in this field:
- Niro, who is professor of primary and prehospital care, began by describing CaHRU’s translational research focus, seeking to improve health care processes and outcomes. A key area has been in primary care for people with insomnia which includes systematic reviews, qualitative studies and the development and evaluation of psychological interventions for insomnia.
- Prof Alina Rodriguez, professor in psychology, presented her approach combining methodological strategies including psychological, epidemiological, and molecular to understand the development of behavioural, cognitive, emotional or physical problems across the lifespan, seeking to identify factors amenable to change that can be translated into public health policy or interventions.
- Prof Graham Law is professor in medical statistics and has worked extensively in epidemiology and medical statistics, focussing on sleep and the consequences of good and poor sleep on metabolic and cardiovascular health.
- Dr Simon Durrant, senior lecturer in psychology, initially trained as a musician (counter tenor) before developing his expertise in the cognitive neuroscience of sleep. He leads the sleep lab at Lincoln using techniques such as polysomnography, EEG and actigraphy to understand the physiological basis of sleep and its disorders.
The group then discussed, together and with other academics present, the problem of tinnitus (noise generated internally in the body) which affects around 10% of adults and is associated with insomnia in over three-quarters of those with the condition, particularly causing difficulty getting off to sleep (so-called sleep latency). There followed an exploration of potential ways to investigate the problem of insomnia linked to tinnitus (e.g. using evidence synthesis, analysis of large datasets, and qualitative designs) together with the potential for intervention develop (e.g. using CBT for insomnia together with CBT for tinnitus) and evaluation of these.
The seminar ended with suggestions and proposals for how to take this work forward.
A. N. Siriwardena