In 2016 The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Denmark (NFA) celebrated its 70th anniversary. Director Pål Molander from STAMI (The National Institute of Occupational Health, Norway) came with a very special gift: One NFA researcher would have the possibility to come for one year payed stay at STAMI.
The NFA decided to split the present in two and allow two researchers to go for six months each. I applied and got one of the six months stay.
My primary research interest is shift work and circadian rhythms. The Nordic countries already have a strong collaboration on shift work and working times culminating in the project ‘Working hours In the Nordic Countries’ (WINC). During my stay, I worked primarily with Dagfinn Matre and colleagues in the “Shift work, Sleep and Pain” project. The project focuses on the effect of shift work and sleep deprivation on pain. Shift work is believed to have several negative health effects, including pain and reduced sleep quality. It has previously been shown that experimental sleep reduction induces increased pain sensitivity. Chronic pain is a very common disorder and a significant cause of permanent sickness absence. An increased understanding of the processes that lead to increased pain is therefore essential in order to develop preventive measures to reduce pain and sickness absence.
My contribution to this project was to make analyzes of sleep, inflammatory markers and selected markers of pain sensitivity. There is an article under preparation with me as the first author.
During my stay I had opportunities to present my own work and to hear more about the research done at STAMI. We had many interesting discussions about our research fields and it helped me to increase my network. We already have future plans for more articles and joint project applications for funding. So hopefully, I will have a more intense collaboration with my Norwegian colleagues for many years to come.
On a personal note: I started my stay in the beginning of May and this is not a bad time to visit beautiful Norway. My dog and boyfriend joined me after a month. This gave us the opportunity to spend our summer vacation hiking in Norway.
Overall, my stay has given me insight into a new research area, a larger network, opportunities for future applications and a lot of amazing experiences.