After one false start, I am finally underway in the sleep study I am helping with. I found the right place this time and the miserable taxi driver actually dropped me right at the door. On entering the almost deserted building, 3 people stepped out of the elevator and I asked one person which floor I was on. It may appear obvious to the reader, but trust me when I say that with this place, you can never be sure! However, so I do my drunken walk thingamebob over to the elevator, only to find you can’t access them without using the intercom. So I stagger over to the intercom and press the button…..Nowt, zilch, nothing, nada. OK, try again, same result. So I am left with a flight of stairs to climb, must be my lucky day methinks. I make it up to the first floor after some huffing and puffing up the stairs and there’s no one in sight. Ring the bell at reception, riiiight, nowt, zilch, nothing, nada. So I just shout hello down the deserted corridor and a face pops out of a door. They don’t say anything, just look at me like I am stupid for disturbing them. OK, I can live with that.
Eventually, the person I am here to see appears, only its the other person, not the one on the phone, they both happen to be called Andrew. Told you it was my lucky day! Anyways, off to the nearest office, Andrew2 explains a few things then presents me with a bundle of forms to complete. I hate forms. You have no idea how many forms I have completed in the last 3 years. It must take 5 trees to make the forms I have filled and that’s a conservative estimate. But anyway, I complete said forms to the best of my ability and Andrew2 is happy with that. Then he gives me a double columned list of words, just single words, nothing else and asks me to read them out loud. I would imagine 40 words total [guess, I didn’t count] and came across three I had never stumbled upon before. Pronouncing them was difficult, but I gave it a shot anyway. Andrew2 said I had done well.
That was the paperwork complete, now to the equipment.
It’s absolutely amazing what can be found on U Tube. Andrew2 told me I would find a video if I forgot anything. I didn’t. We managed fine. I met Andrew1 in the corridor as we took the machine to be programmed, another nice fella and it was good to put a face to someone I had only spoken to over the phone. The two of them are helping out a research dept, doing PhD’s in Neuroscience and this is all connected to that. They are both decent people and made me feel very relaxed.
So the little gizmo was programmed to activate at 1am, my usual bedtime, and switch off at 8.15am. I usually wake around 7.30-8.00am. I was wired up and ready to go by 12.45am and lying flat on my back in bed by 1am. I looked like some kind of cyborg, but it was all connected properly and by 1.15am I was fast asleep. It didn’t really interfere with that. I woke up a couple of times, once, one of the leads had slipped out of my nose, so I hooked that up again and promptly fell back to sleep. I got up at 8.05am and then the messy part started.
The whole study is set up to measure cortisol in the system during sleep and on awakening. To do this successfully they need saliva samples. One before you go to sleep and a further five when you awake the following morning. 1 when you wake, then another 4 at 15 minute intervals. No food or water until they are done. I don’t know about you, but I don’t function in the mornings until I have had a nice hot cup of tea. But none of that this morning. My mouth was dry as a camels arse and tasted like said camel took a dump in there while I wasn’t looking. So I had some plastic squares to chew on as chewing helps stimulate the saliva glands, apparently. So I am chewing on plastic and trying to drool/spit into tubes that are about 1cm in diameter. Not an easy task I can assure you. Anyway, it got done, to the schedule and just about gave the right amounts.
I go back later today with my samples and hand the gizmo back and then have a couple of hours to do some computerised tests. They should take about 2 hours, then its £50 in the back pocket for my time. Its the first time ever anyone has paid me to sleep! I think also that they have some more studies lined up, so I will also try to grab some information on those while I am there later on.
Part 2 will follow tomorrow.