Skip to main content

Sleep and circadian biology

Understanding the links between sleep and brain health

Our sleep and circadian biology team focuses on improving our understanding of how changes to our sleep and body rhythms effect diseases of the brain. We're examining interventions for sleep-wake disturbances to improve brain health.

Studies have shown that sleep-wake disturbance is associated with cognitive impairment and increased mental health disorders.

Importantly, and unlike many features of these disorders, sleep-wake disturbance is something that people can control which makes it an important aspect of therapeutics.

The sleep and circadian biology team brings together expert researchers from across the Woolcock Institute and The University of Sydney to explore deeply across a few key areas.

Areas of research 

  • Determine the unique characteristics of sleep and circadian disturbance that are associated with diseases of the brain and mind including psychiatric disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, epilepsy as well as in acquired brain injury
  • Identify and assess better ways of screening for sleep disorders in patients at risk of diseases of the brain and mind  
  • Develop and assess effective drug and non-drug treatments for sleep and circadian disturbance
  • Determine the usefulness and functionality of new forms of technology including wearable devices for assessment monitoring and delivery of patient care 

Connection between sleep and dementia

Facts & figures

About sleep

  • 6 dreams The average person has 4-6 dreams each night
  • 8 hours The average person needs 7-9, whereas athletes often need 10
  • 28 years By the time you're 80, you'll have spent approximately 28 years asleep
  • 2 phases There are two main phases of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep