FEATURED MEMBER - MEGAN CRAWFORD, PHD
Dr Crawford is currently based in South Wales as a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Swansea University. After spending a few years in Chicago at Rush University Medical Center as a postdoctoral research fellow and then Assistant Professor, she decided to move back to the where she is originally from. Her current research is focused on how to optimise treatments for sleep disorders (including insomnia, sleep apnoea, narcolepsy), with a particular focus on treatment adherence. I am currently co-chair of the SBSM education committee.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALIZE IN BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE (WHAT GOT YOU STARTED, WHO DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK WITH ALONG THE WAY)?
Coincidence- as it has been for many others in this field. I was an undergraduate at Surrey University in the UK and a requirement of the course was to complete a work placement. I was adamant that I wanted a placement in a group researching autism. Unfortunately, I was not successful with my first interview, and so decided to apply for a few non-autism research positions and fine-tune my interview skills. One of these was with Professor Alice Gregory at Goldsmiths, University of London on the relationship between sleep problems, anxiety and depression in children. During the interview, I was convinced sleep was a fascinating topic to research. I got the position and never looked back. Professor Gregory was not the only mentor I was fortunate enough to work with: Professor Colin Espie and Dr Jason Ong were instrumental in shaping me into the researcher I am today. I have always enjoyed collaborating internationally, and currently work with Dr Delwyn Bartlett Australia, Professor Helen Burgess in the U.S. and Professor Annie Vallières in Canada.
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE FIELD IN 10 YEARS?
As a new mum, I was surprised to discover the stigma associated with behavioural sleep interventions for infants. I have met other parents, who did not considersleep to be a modifiable behaviour, in the same way we teach our kids to walk, talk or read. I would like to see the field work towards breaking down this stigma, and continue to disseminate the message that, except perhaps for some lucky few, sleep does not just fall into place at some point in the future. I hope that in 10 years, we will have managed to bridge the gap between the evidence for behavioural interventions for infant sleep problems and the broad acceptance of these techniques the general public. On a larger scale, I hope that the field’s appreciation of and support for paediatric sleep research and evidence-based clinical practice continues to grow and eventually be on par with the support granted to adult sleep research.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO EARLY CAREER INDIVIDUALS, OR THOSE RESPECIALIZING INTO BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE?
Still being an early career researcher myself, I know how hard it is to not go down the “imposter syndrome” rabbit hole. I think the key to feeling like you arecontributing is to get involved in committee work (SBSM or elsewhere); to not be afraid to approach others with research ideas, this is how collaborations start; and to not forget about the individuals who are struggling with sleep problems, who are benefitting from the research we do.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL TALENTS OR HOBBIES?
Although I am from the UK, I spent most of my childhood in Germany, so I speak fluent, German, in fact most people cannot place my accent or guess where I am from.