Nicole Grivell and Bastien Lechat from the University’s Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health have been awarded the inaugural Nick Antic Sleep Research PhD Scholarship, in memory of the much loved Flinders University sleep professor who passed away in 2016.
Supported by Flinders Foundation through generous support from the community and Professor Antic’s family, friends and colleagues, Mrs Grivell will use the scholarship to explore how primary care nurses can become more involved in the management of sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnoea and insomnia.
Mr Lechat will bring an engineering perspective to sleep studies by developing automatic methods to more accurately measure sleep quality and enable better diagnosis.
Neither Mrs Grivell nor Mr Lechat had the honour of working alongside leading researcher Professor Antic, but they say his work, legacy and reputation surrounds them every day.
Mrs Grivell, an experienced primary care nurse, will look at the role of nurses outside the hospital setting. “There are long waiting lists for hospital care for sleep disorders, so we’re focusing on how we can increase the amount of sleep health care provided outside of the hospital setting and by GP practices,” she says.
“Sleep health care is quite new in terms of nursing, and general practice nurses have indicated that whilst they don’t currently have the knowledge or training in sleep health care, they’re very keen to be able to do more…so my research is really looking at exploring the impact they can have on sleep disorders.
“It’s so important because sleep is one of the pillars of good health. It affects us all from birth to death, and without good sleep we can’t function at our best.”
For Mrs Grivell, it’s a fitting topic with strong links to some of Professor Antic’s previous research.
“My research builds on some of Nick’s work as he was very much an advocate for nurses being more involved in sleep health care.
“It’s very nice to honour him in this way as I know how much of an inspiration he was to the researchers here and how much they loved working with him.”
Mr Lechat, who trained in France, says: “At present ‘sleep quality’ is defined quite loosely and sleep test signals are scored manually, so we haven’t yet found a way to describe and measure sleep quality properly and efficiently.
“Manual scoring of sleep signals is labour intensive and imprecise, creating an important loss of potentially crucial information. My research focuses on applying algorithms, especially on brainwaves, that can be used to more objectively define sleep quality in sleep research.
“Sleep research is complex, but I think a lot of work can be done by engineers to help doctors better diagnose sleep disorders.”
It is estimated that 1.5 million Australians have a sleep disorder, while about 40 per cent have inadequate sleep.
Like Mrs Grivell, Mr Lechat says it’s an honour to receive a scholarship in Professor Antic’s name.
“Unfortunately, I never met Nick but I’ve heard so much about him, and even today, colleagues will be sitting around discussing our research and they’ll say, ‘we did that with Nick’…his work is often spoken of,” he says.