Scientists Create Special 'Hotel' to Study Sleep Disorders

by VR Sreeraman on  February 7, 2009 at 6:03 PM Research News
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 Scientists Create Special 'Hotel' to Study Sleep Disorders
Aussie scientists have created a special "hotel" in Sydney as part of their new research project to study sleep disorders, wherein people will be locked away from the world for days, and monitored around the clock.

Their aim will to be gain fresh insights into how the body reacts to shift work, jet lag, sleep disorders, and even space travel.

The country's first large-scale Time Isolation Research Unit was built as part of the 10 million-dollar co-location of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.

The subjects of the study will be kept totally away from external factors like sunlight and noise.

Professor Ron Grunstein has revealed that the multi-room facility has been insulated from the ground, which is why the subjects will not by alerted even by an early morning garbage truck.

"It's like a hotel for research ... (but) the rooms are completely sound-proofed to levels far greater than the best hotels," the Daily Telegraph quoted Professor Grunstein, who is the institute's head of sleep and circadian research, as saying.

"If a garbage truck goes past they won't feel any vibration," the researcher added.

The scientists will have total control over light, air temperature and what the test subject sees, eats and hears.

They will also take care to prevent any clue that may indicate time of day, even down to the bathroom habits of the researchers.

"The male staff either don't shave or they shave at odd times and they don't wear watches ... if you really want to do this properly you have to have that attention to detail," Professor Grunstein says.

This is the fourth time that such a facility has been established in the world. Opened in Glebe, this is said to be the most advanced in the southern hemisphere.

Professor Grunstein said that future work could include testing how a person's circadian rhythms would be affected by the "completely different lighting conditions than they would experience on earth."

The institute, which is affiliated to the University of Sydney, will soon take out ads inviting volunteers to participate in its research.

Test subjects can't be claustrophobic, and they have to deal with almost total isolation for a week or even a month.

"A lot of the people who volunteer for these longer studies have a specific project they want to do. They are quite happy to be isolated - they are writing a book, or some report, or they want to read 10 novels," Professor Grunstein said.

Source: ANI

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