Paula Miseikyte is Scientific Lead at LYS.
Our resident expert in sleep and circadian rhythms, Paula studied psychology with a focus on neuroscience at the University of Maastricht and is studying for an MSc in sleep medicine at the University of Oxford.
Hi Paula, Thanks for joining us today!
Tell us a bit about yourself. What first inspired your interest in sleep?
I was first introduced to sleep science during my psychology studies and then decided to specialise in sleep medicine for my postgraduate degree. But I’ve always been curious – my passion for sleep started long before my studies.
I say ‘specialise’ – sleep is such a broad topic. The more I learn, the more I realise how much depth and complexity there is. Who can really call themselves a sleep expert? I don’t think even my professors would dare. It takes a lifetime.
Tell us about your role at LYS
As Scientific Lead, I’m here to use my knowledge of circadian rhythms, sleep and light to help improve our technology and contribute to new initiatives.
It’s a very broad role: I sit in on client meetings to advise on scientific issues, I work with the product team to constantly update and improve our technology and ensure all our advice is evidence-based.
How have you found the move from academia to industry work?
My academic background has made me a perfectionist. So I’ve found it challenging – and rewarding – to adapt to the time constraints and practicalities of industry work.
I’ve also learned a lot about communication. It’s a challenge to translate the knowledge to real-life situations. How do you present the evidence in a way that can help people in their everyday lives? That’s a skill in itself and something you have to constantly nurture.
Do you think people are more aware of the importance of sleep now?
Definitely – I think the world is becoming much more aware. However, whilst there’s more awareness about sleep, I would say that there’s still not enough awareness about light.
Light is the strongest environmental cue regulating our circadian rhythms. It’s important not only for how well we sleep, but also for our productivity and mood. We spend approximately 90% of our time indoors exposed to artificial lighting. Unfortunately, lighting standards are still not optimal for our health and wellbeing.
Do you think tech has helped improve awareness?
Yes, technology has really helped. There are so many products and apps about sleep on the market now.
Inevitably, some are better than others. And it can be a thin line between raising awareness about an issue and adding to people’s anxieties.
I think it’s really important that sleep products give users more than just data analytics. The goal should be to help people change for the better – not just presenting data. Positive tips for behavioural change. That’s the key.
Are you a Night Owl or a Morning Lark? Any tips for a great night sleep?
I’m a Night Owl. So I’m not that suited to the morning world and definitely not suited to early morning meetings. But just knowing this about myself gives me clues on how to improve my well-being.
So, for example, I know from my studies – and seeing the data at LYS – that Night Owls are more predisposed to social jet lag and sleep deprivation.
I try to keep my sleep deprivation to a minimum during the working week, and, if I need to catch up, I compensate on the weekend by going to bed slightly earlier. For Night Owls like me, it really helps to keep your sleep-wake times as consistent as possible.
Luckily, LYS adjusts work schedules to suit peoples’ chronotypes. Night Owls and Morning Larks are allowed to start their day at slightly different times. We know from research into shift workers that this makes a big difference to people’s health and performance.
So it’s partly about personal strategies, but I think employers have a responsibility to listen to the scientific evidence as well.