Austria 2024: Mag. Dr. Brigitte Holzinger | Medical University of Vienna & Institute for Consciousness and Dream Research

Delegate: Mag. Dr. Brigitte Holzinger

Affiliation: Medical University of Vienna & Institute for Consciousness and Dream Research

Short Bio: Brigitte Holzinger, born in Vienna, studied psychology in Vienna and California (Stanford).

Dr. Holzinger is characterized by her thirst for research, her commitment and her passion for her profession. Her wide-ranging knowledge in many areas of psychology gives her a deep insight into the human psyche, which not only makes the extremely complex task of treating sleep disorders possible in the first place, but is also applied in many of her other activities.

Activity: – symposium in Linz (subject: sleep equity – why sleep is political)

– announcement of two research projects (How do sleep and motor imagination training influence the learning of new movement sequences? & Sleep and memory during pregnancy)

– New developments in the treatment of rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and restless legs syndrome (RLS)

RBD: New methods for RBD screening are available and are currently being further developed. As RBD is a prodromal synuclein-associated neurodegenerative disease, a correct diagnosis, which is only possible using video polysomnography, is essential. When communicating an RBD diagnosis, attention must be paid to the associated ethical aspects.

RLS: Iron supplementation is a component of therapy for restless legs syndrome. New studies support this knowledge, and ongoing studies are investigating which RLS patients may benefit most from iron. In addition, non-drug therapies with tonic motor activation have shown an effect on RLS symptoms.

– Sleep can be measured: For a precise assessment of sleep quality, the patient spends a night in one of the approximately 60 sleep laboratories in Austria, where a polysomnography is carried out. Unfortunately, long waiting times are the result of limited access, which in turn can be explained by the high technical and personnel costs. However, a simplified preliminary examination (polygraphy) with outpatient equipment can already answer some questions in advance – especially in the case of sleep-related breathing disorders (e.g. sleep apnea) – but does not record the quality of sleep. The Austrian Society for Sleep Medicine (ÖGSM) has been inspecting such sleep laboratories for more than 30 years and ensures compliance with international standards in these laboratories

– The master course sleep coaching starts in fall 2024 at the Medical University of Vienna: the course qualifies students to provide advice, information and assistance and to implement non-pharmacological and psychological counseling concepts for non-restorative sleep. In addition, basic knowledge about sleep and sleep disorders is taught. They are offered in German and English and last 4 or 5 semesters, depending on the course.

– two new publications on sleep research: Guidelines for the treatment of insomnia: “The European Insomnia Guideline: An update on the diagnosis and treatment of insomnia 2023” (open source Journal of Sleep Research, Dec 2023) & Links between insomnia, nightmares and suicidality: “Nightmare is a risk factor for suicidal ideation during the Covid-19 pandemic” (Journal of Sleep Research, Jan 2024)

Location: Linz, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Vienna

Date of Activity: press releases were issued on 29.2 and 7.3 and the interviews between 11. and 20.03.2024

Submitted by: Mag. Dr. Brigitte Holzinger