I can’t believe it’s a whole week since I’ve been back in Cape Town. And I’m back in the sleep lab, watching the EEG of my sleeping participant as I reminisce about my exchange at the University of Southampton. Since I’ve been back I’ve been able to apply many things I’ve learnt already – especially related to the sleep lab. The exchange was a fantastic experience in acquiring international experience in the field of sleep research.
In terms of applying my newly acquired sleep research knowledge, I spent today adjusting my entire montage to represent a configuration that is more commonly accepted world-wide. A polysomnographic montage is the unique configuration of electrodes that makes up the EEG reading that you see on the screen. Because the technicians who set up our configuration were not sleep researchers and our team was too green in the field to know any better, our set-up was not optimal for our purposes.
I’m also in the processes of applying for an equipment grant so that we can update the kind of electrodes we use, as well as the method of attaching the electrodes. Currently we use a potent glue called collodian, which is pretty much amazing at keeping the electrodes stuck to the head. However it has some pitfalls – it’s very strong smelling, hard to apply and time consuming to remove. There are better products on the market, as I now know, and I’ve located a supplier in Cape Town.
I’ve also come back with lots of clinical knowledge, which will be immensely helpful when I start seeing patients again. I’m also really excited about working on the collaborations I built up during my time – I’m busy selecting articles from a large data base to be included in a Cochrane review of anti-depressant treatment for insomnia. I’m also writing a conceptual short article for the Journal of Human Psychopharmacology examining the treatment of sleep difficulties in posttraumatic stress disorder, collaborating with Cathy Hill on a sleep and high-altitude study and working out the details of future studies with a genetics researcher with an interest in psychiatric disorders. In summary, many papers and future projects to look forward to!
Many many thanks to Professor David Baldwin for facilitating this exchange and having me sit in on his outpatients clinic; to the administrative staff, especially Magda Nowak who worked out all the details; to Dr Cathy Hill, Michael Breen and Dr Topher Woelk and Dr Hazel Everitt for including me in their interesting projects; to Dr Jonathan Dakin and Dr Lars Hansen for including me in their clinics and to Sue Johnstone for hosting me!
And lastly may the sun shine in England again!