Themes to Look for at SLEEP 2021

This year's SLEEP 2021 virtual conference offers a wide range of sessions on topics relating to sleep disorder treatment and management.

This year, The Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC, is presenting SLEEP 2021 in a virtual format between June 10 and 13, 2021, and the research to be presented spans a wide range of topics.

Complete with a virtual exhibit hall, several invited lecturers, discussion groups, rapid-fire symposia, clinical workshops, and other events, the conference offers a plethora of formats to hear the latest in sleep medicine and pathophysiological research.

Below are several themes to keep an eye out for at SLEEP 2021.

1. The Impact of COVID-19 on Sleep

Several sessions to be presented at SLEEP 2021 focus on the convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and sleep disorders. Presented research will also look into how the pandemic disrupted sleep medicine services and created challenges for both providers and patients. Other sessions will cover the social and psychological effects of COVID-19 on sleep, while delving into lessons learned from the pandemic.

Another talk will explore the bidirectional effect of COVID-19 on sleep health in adults. Wendy Troxel, PhD, a senior behavioral and social scientist at RAND Corporation, will also give a lecture entitled “From Crime to COVID: Disparities in Sleep and What We Can Do About It.”

2. Sex Differences in Sleep Disorders

One session being held at SLEEP 2021 takes a look at obstructive sleep apnea in women and will discuss sex-distinct topics in and treatments for this disorder. In a similar vein, an additional general session will explore the effects of sex on the bidirectional relationship between sleep and substance use.

Among the abstracts to be presented at the meeting, several discuss sex differences in sleep disorders, management, and treatment. Presenters will discuss their research on the sex-dependent associations between rest-activity rhythms and nocturnal blood pressure among adults. Another abstract will address whether sex plays a role in subjective sleep and objective cognition in middle-aged and older adults.

3. Social Determinants of Health and Sleep

Several other talks to be presented focus on social and environmental determinants of sleep health. One session presented by Janeese Brownlow, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, and others looks at the implications of social determinants of sleep health on health disparities.

One other session will look at sleep patterns among populations already experiencing health disparities, while another explores sleep disparities in highly vulnerable child populations. Research also touches on specific populations, as one abstract looks into food insecurity and cardiometabolic risks in urban American Indian/Alaska Native youth.

4. Research on Insomnia, the Circadian Clock

A general session at SLEEP 2021 is devoted to cognitive-behavioral treatment of insomnia in special populations and comorbid disorders, while another looks into the epidemiology and pathophysiology of insomnia from childhood through adulthood. Eus JW Van Someren, PhD, a professor of neuroscience at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, will give a talk on the search for brain mechanisms of insomnia.

In another general session, researchers will discuss the contribution of sleep and circadian disruption to cognitive and psychological well-being. Research on innovations in noninvasive sleep and circadian technologies will also be presented.

5. The Relationship Between Sleep and Job Performance

Investigators probed the impacts of sleep on job performance and will present research on both sleep and sleep loss in soldiers, first responders, and flight crews at this year’s virtual conference.

One additional session, presented by Christopher Steele, PhD, and others, will discuss translating laboratory research to industry or military operational environments. This session will look into challenges of doing so, any successes reported, and lessons learned.

Abstracts presented also address this topic, with one including findings of rest schemes and inflight sleep duration on long-range and ultra-long-range commercial airline routes.

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