Meet Darren Mansfield, Deputy Director of Monash Lung and Sleep and Director of the Monash Health Sleep Service.
What is your role at Monash Health and what does it entail?
As well as supporting many of the activities within the Respiratory Unit, my principal role is to oversee the Sleep Service. The sleep unit is one of the largest in the country with over 70 sleep studies conducted each week.
Sleep health is being recognised as one of the three pillars for a healthy lifestyle along with exercise and diet. Our sleep unit hopes to convey the importance of healthy sleep toward optimal mood, performance, cognition, learning and metabolic health.
What has your journey been like at Monash Health?
I was an intern at Monash Health the year that it opened in 1990 and conducted much of my training here. I returned in 2003 to work at Dandenong Hospital in general medicine and intensive care. I was Head of the General Medical Unit from 2007 to 2011, and moved to the Respiratory Unit in 2012 to take on the role leading the Sleep Service within the Monash Lung and Sleep Department.
This year’s theme for Sleep Awareness Week in Australia is ‘Sleep on it- memory and problem solving.’ Why is sleep so important, and what impact does it have on our memory and brain function?
Sleep is critical to cognition and learning. Learned tasks and experiences are consolidated into memory during sleep. The cortex of the brain is not able to consolidate experiences and learned tasks into memory while at the same time processing current stimuli from the environment. The function of disengaging from conscious awareness might be an important aspect of sleep for separating these two functions and allowing information to be consolidated into memory.
Sleep is crucial to children and adolescents in particular as they are most vulnerable to the effects of sleep loss on mood, behaviour and learning.
What major/new project or initiative is your team currently working on?
We are developing Monash Lung and Sleep in the community to place our outpatient services within a large primary care hub in Cranbourne. This initiative hopes to bring our chronic lung disease closer to home, a GP and multidisciplinary care.
What are your biggest achievements since working at Monash Health?
Being part of a team in respiratory and sleep medicine that delivers a high quality clinical service, with a high patient experience, manages its finances and delivers over 50 publications per year, with repeated grant success.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
I enjoy looking at ways of developing new services.
If you weren’t working in your current role what would you be doing?
I think I would have been an Engineer. I loved maths and physics and miss the opportunity of using these tools to solve problems.
The Pyjama Fun Run is coming up on October 27 to support the Monash Lung and Sleep department. How can people get involved?
Everyone sleeps, and therefore has a stake in raising awareness of its importance to optimal health. Register for the event, dress up in your PJs, walk, run or bring your dog. Either way come and have some fun!
Register now at http://www.monashhealthfoundation.com.au/event/pyjamafunrun
Visit our Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/352189752103185/