Nursing faculty member, sleep expert Michael Decker to be featured on ABC show

headshot of Michael Decker, Case Western Reserve UniversitySleep expert Michael Decker hadn’t even unpacked boxes or set up his computer in his new office at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing when producers from ABC’s new primetime consumer show, The Lookout, tapped his expertise for an interview.

Decker, a nurse scientist certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine and national spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has published findings from sleep research studies that he conducted during his appointment within the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Some of his more than 50 research papers and book chapters derive from his National Institutes of Health research grants. He joined Case Western Reserve University’s nursing faculty as an associate professor in July.

Decker will share tips on how to pick a mattress and get a good night’s sleep on the program, scheduled to air locally at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, on WEWS-TV Channel 5. Chagrin Falls native Michael Cappetta, a multimedia reporter for ABC, filmed the segment.

Decker’s arrival marks a return to the Case Western Reserve campus, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1994 and PhD in anatomy and neuroscience in 1999.

His doctoral dissertation, “Wakefulness and Sleep: Intrinsic modulators of the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus,” was conducted with world-renowned sleep and neuroscience experts Kingman Strohl, Susan Redline and Joseph LaManna from the School of Medicine.

Decker arrives from Georgia State University, where he was an associate professor and held the Byrdine F. Lewis Chair in Nursing. In addition to his work at the CDC, he also has been on the faculty at Emory University’s Department of Neurology.

Decker’s research unexpectedly led him to the link between a good mattress and a sound night’s sleep. About 10 years ago, while studying people with sleep problems, his subjects awoke from the sleep study rooms to tell him they had never slept so well. He concluded the lab beds, compared to the old mattresses they slept on at home, made all the difference.

Among his other conclusions:

  • Young people need a different kind of mattress than older people.
  • Consumers should spend more than 20 minutes testing a mattress; reclining on one for a few minutes isn’t enough.
  • People should find a mattress that especially supports the hips and shoulders. If there’s any discomfort after a few minutes, find another one.

Mattresses aside, Decker, who co-founded Fusion Sleep, a sleep medicine program in Johns Creek, Ga., mentions that more than 70 different sleep disorders exist, including obstructive sleep apnea, which afflicts about 15 percent of the U.S. population.