Clinician as Advocate: Five Questions with Moira Junge

Moira Junge, PhD, a health psychologist, Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor, and CEO of the Sleep Health Foundation in Melbourne, Australia, believes collaboration plays a key role in spreading good health messages, increasing reach, and attracting sustainable funding. She is keen to continue collaborating with lived experience experts, clinical experts, sleep researchers, other health organizations, and all levels of government. World Sleep Society had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her invaluable contributions to sleep.

How many years have you been in the field of sleep?

I started as a very junior, naïve but super keen “sleep technologist” in 1994. I was a registered nurse studying psychology when I saw an advertisement for positions at the brand-new Sleep Disorders Centre. This was exactly 30 years ago. I fell in love with the sleep field and haven’t looked back.

What led you to work in sleep medicine?

I noticed during my time as a junior sleep scientist (tech) how debilitating it was for people with sleeping challenges such as insomnia or hypersomnia. There were no clear pathways of treatment. As a junior psychologist, I was getting a lot of referrals for sleep-related distress, so I embarked on a journey of self-education. I went to every conference, bought every textbook, attended every workshop that was available internationally in CBTi, and sought mentoring options in Australia. Gradually, I became known in Melbourne as a keen young psychologist with some sleep expertise. Looking back, I wouldn’t call it expertise, but at the very least I had passion, concern, and specialized knowledge.

Why is patient advocacy important to you?

 I see myself as more than a patient advocate; I am an advocate for everyone in Australia. Seeking better treatments and support for those with sleep disorders and playing a key role in prevention for those without sleep disorders. Inadequate sleep is a risk factor for, and potential consequence of, so many conditions. A couple of years ago, I strongly felt that I needed to shift my approach to the bigger picture, focusing on the systems and environments where we live. If we learn more about the where/how/why/what of sleeping and health difficulties, then we will have a better chance of improving the nation’s health.

What is one important thing you want people to know about sleep education?

We need to take a broad approach to sleep health and consider how our environments, nutrition, physical fitness, mental health, and socioeconomic/ health equity contribute to us getting adequate sleep.

What are you most excited about?

I am so excited about the momentum we have in Australia. There has been a recent realization within the government of the role sleep can play in the prevention of chronic disease, chronic mental health issues, and chronic distress. Many chronic disease risk factors are also risk factors for, and potential consequences of, poor sleep health. Improving physical activity, diets, and sleep health of everyone can promote a healthier Australia in the coming years, and I am so excited about that.


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