D-H Nurse Scientist Awarded $20K Grant to Fund Innovative Remote Sleep Study

Cassandra M. Godzik, PhD, APRN

By studying people’s sleeping habits at home, I hope to get more accurate and valuable information about the quality of people’s sleep, and how improving their sleep environment and habits can improve their lives.

Cassandra M. Godzik, PhD, APRN

An advanced practice registered nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) has been awarded a research grant from the Rockefeller University Heilbrunn Family Center for Research Nursing Scholars. Cassandra M. Godzik, PhD, APRN, a T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Dartmouth Centers for Health & Aging, was awarded a grant of $20,151 to study the impact of home sleep environments and how they correlate to disease prevention, especially in older adults. Godzik’s year of funding began in July.

Until her grant expires on June 30, 2022, Godzik will spend the next year studying how sleep environments effects the mental health of her study participants, with an emphasis on people over the age of 65. This grant program through Rockefeller University funds the research of about five to seven people annually and is designed to fund nurse scientists in their endeavors.

A former emergency medical technician, Godzik, who is now a psychiatric nurse practitioner, was struck by the living and especially sleeping conditions she would find patients in on calls. She witnessed many people sleeping in unclean, unsafe environments, often without a bed, in spaces that were not dark or quiet enough to ensure restful sleep. This experience was the impetus behind her impending research project.

Godzik’s research will also be unique in that this sleep study will be conducted remotely, with people sleeping in their normal sleep environment. Participants will be issued a Philips SmartSleep Sleep and Wake Up Light Therapy Lamp as part of the study.

“We focus a lot of sleep study on middle-aged people, but there’s a lack of focus on older adults,” Godzik said. “There haven’t been many sleep studies done in the space where people actually sleep most of the time; usually, it’s in a clinical setting. The insight I got as an EMT going into people’s homes was shocking and a lot more accurate than what a patient might share at their doctor’s office. By studying people’s sleeping habits at home, I hope to get more accurate and valuable information about the quality of people’s sleep, and how improving their sleep environment and habits can improve their lives.”

Godzik was also recently named by the American Association of Colleges of Nurse as part of a task force developing a “nurse faculty toolkit” established by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to inspire the next generation of nurses to serve with courage, ingenuity, and compassion.

About Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH), New Hampshire’s only academic health system and the state’s largest private employer, serves a population of 1.9 million across northern New England. D-HH provides access to more than 2,000 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH. DHMC was named again in 2020 as the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in 9 clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health includes the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state’s only children’s hospital; member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene, and New London, NH, and Windsor, VT, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and 24 Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. The D-HH system trains nearly 400 residents and fellows annually, and performs world-class research, in partnership with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT.