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An Eye-opening Experience: Undergraduate student presents research at national sleep conference.

Posted: July 1, 2013

Editor's Note: UT Austin nursing students Courtney Hanna and Margot Betcher accompanied Dr. Patricia Carter to the Sleep 2013 conference in Baltimore, Maryland. They were the only undergraduate nursing students to present at this prestigious meeting. The following is an account of that experience by Courtney Hanna.

Courtney Hanna

UT Austin nursing student Courtney Hanna
at the Sleep 2013 Conference.

During my second year as a pre-nursing student at the University of Texas at Austin, I have been researching the effect of sleep deprivation in college students on depressive symptoms. After the completion of this project, I attended the Sleep 2013 conference in Baltimore, Maryland, to present my research. There I got the opportunity to attend lectures and seminars that opened my eyes to all the work and research that needs to be done in sleep. I have now realized just how complex sleep is, how little I know about it, and how much it interests me.

My favorite seminar was “Sleep, Circadian Rhythmicity, and Metabolism: The Inseparable Triad” by Eve Van Cauter, PhD. In this lecture, Dr. Cauter discussed how sleep restriction and sleep debt lead to more caloric intake and slower metabolism. The consequences that were shown lead to some of the most problematic diseases in the world: type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This particular seminar made me realize just how much sleep can change lives and — more specifically — health.

The conference revealed so many doors that are to be opened in my career. I plan to finish my Bachelor of Science in Nursing at UT Austin and then work in the Intensive Care Unit while returning to school to become a nurse practitioner. I would also like to specialize in sleep and education.

Now that Sleep 2013 has taught me just how important sleep is, the way I shape my career and care for my patients will forever be changed.