A bit about me and my research
Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions you never asked!
Who am I?
I'm Amber, a 25-year-old Early Career Researcher and the founder of Sleep Positive.
Where did my interest in sleep come from?
My interest in sleep stems from my interest in dreams! As a child, I used to have exceptionally vivid, hallucination-like dreams that would wake me up and leave me terrified in the dark. Sometimes I saw dinosaurs, other times I saw strange geometric patterns climbing up the walls and over my parents confused faces.
At some point, I started to have lucid dreams - dreams where I would become conscious and start controlling my actions and dream scenery. Pretty soon, I began asking questions about sleep that my poor parents had no idea how answer.
It wasn't until college that I finally got to learn about sleep, and was shocked to realise just how little we knew about it. I decided to go to university in the hopes of finding out more!
What did I study?
Fresh out of college, I completed a BSc in Psychology with Neuroscience (2015–2018), followed by an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience (2018–2019).
I passed my PhD in March 2023, with a thesis entitled: "Positive Psychological Traits Predict and Facilitate Good Sleep Quality and Quantity."
Why did I decide to do a PhD?
I felt like I hadn't learnt enough about sleep, so decided to start researching it myself!
What was my PhD about?
My PhD research focused on exploring the relationships between positive psychological traits (such as gratitude, self-compassion, optimism and mindfulness) and good sleep quality and quantity.
While each of these positive traits had been independently related to better sleep, there was far less research on how and why they benefited sleep and no research at all that looked at them together.
Believing that emotion regulation might be important, I explored the idea that all of these positive traits might be linked to good sleep through the same emotion regulation processes as part of a broader positive psychology-sleep framework.
Based on my findings, I now know that positive traits all help to benefit sleep by reducing the maladaptive cognitive emotional processes that ordinarily impair it.
By looking at the positive traits together, I found out that optimism consistently predicted the largest proportion of variation in sleep quality and quantity in the short and long term, and am now developing an intervention to see whether promoting optimism can improve sleep.
Ultimately, I hope that my research will help to provide individuals with a cheap, easy and self-administrable way to improve sleep in their day-to-day lives.
Why did I start Sleep Positive?
I came up with the idea for Sleep Positive pretty early on into my PhD, but didn't have the guts to make it public.
I wanted a place where I could share my research interests and invite people to learn more about positive psychology and sleep.
In a space like this, my research can reach everyone - it's written in an accessible way and 'exists' somewhere other than my head and academic journals.
Sleep is a societal issue that affects us all, so all of us get should get the chance to hear about research like this.