Featured Profile: Christina McCrae
‘University of Missouri researcher Dr. Christina McCrae investigates the link between sleep and health.
McCrae examines how insomnia and other disorders affect wellbeing in the brain and body. She has been funded several times by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and served as a Fellow of the NIH’s National Institute on Aging Summer Research Institute, focusing on sleep disorders and mental health in older adults.
McCrae sheds light on how the brain is affected by fibromyalgia, a chronic and often disabling disorder. In addition to muscle pain and fatigue, patients frequently report memory failures, difficulty concentrating and other cognitive impairments. McCrae discovered that fibromyalgia patients have reduced volume of the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory and navigation. Additionally, she demonstrated that insomnia – unfortunately common among individuals with fibromyalgia – causes the condition to worsen.
McCrae has also studied the effects of inadequate sleep on children. Children who do not sleep well often have weight problems, with an estimated 2 out of 3 such children being at risk for obesity. McCrae has been an instrumental part of a multi-university Pediatric Sleep Study designed to help children who are overweight and having sleep problems. Rather than medication, medical devices or surgical procedures, children and families are taught behavioral strategies to improve sleep.
Dr. Christina McCrae is a professor in the department of health psychology and a senior scientist in the School of Health Professions.
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One Health/One Medicine