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Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research

Are you getting enough sleep? In the UK, it is estimated that approximately 40% of people suffer with sleep problems, at a cost of around £40.2 billion to the economy caused by sleep deprivation. Sleep is a vital part of our health and wellbeing and understanding the underlying science is crucial to provide people with the best possible support.  

The Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research, opened in 2009, is a state-of-the-art, highly specialised facility designed to understand the development of sleep and wakefulness and drive evidence-based interventions and support. The laboratory is comprised of a team of world-leading experts with diverse backgrounds including experimental and applied psychology, neurophysiology and neuropsychiatry, chronobiology, creative writing and medicine. 

There are several multidisciplinary programmes of research within this group, broadly encompassing: social cognition and sleep, paediatric sleep and learning, dreaming and states of consciousness, the ageing brain and neurodegeneration, the psychophysiological and neuropsychological factors underpinning the pharmacological and non-pharmacological management of poor sleep and the representation of sleep and dreaming in art and literature.   

The laboratory enables unique descriptive studies of sleep quality, quantity and timing to be conducted as well as diagnostic measures of clinically relevant adverse nocturnal events which impact on sleep and daytime functioning.  

Find out more

Ongoing Projects and Partnerships 

The group has several ongoing projects working with public health bodies, industry partners and charities. Find out more about our projects below.  

PHE – recently we have been commissioned by Public Health England to conduct a review on sleep and health for the Secretary of State to inform government guidelines.  

Mayborn – the group has recently completed a project providing support in developing a sound and light-based product to help babies sleep. We are now working on developing sleep promoting nightwear. 

Unilever – the group is examining the interplay between social jet-lag and nutritional intake with a view to managing sleep. 

Health Education England – we recently developed a series of online resources for emergency medical personnel on how to manage shift work and fatigue. We also run an annual training course for healthcare leaders on how to manage shift work. 

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – we are currently running a series of workshops on how to manage stress-related sleep loss to health care practitioners and in the future delivering workshops on sleep and diet and sleep and the menopause. 

British Academy – a recent award will be examining how sleep and social behaviour are interlinked through a series of experiments.  

Wellcome Trust – Diletta has a Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Sciences and is examining the Crisis in Sleep: 24/7 Capitalism and Neoliberal Subjectivity in 20th Century literature. 

Pukka – we are about to start a study on the impact of a type of night time herbal drink on both sleep and the microbiome. 

Alzheimer’s Research UK North East Network – the group are examining the relationship between sleep and circadian functioning and cognition in individuals with Lewy Bodies Dementia.

Several of our group feed into the wider sleep community and members of our team currently sit on the editorial boards for Sleep Advances, Brain Sciences, Sleep Health and Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Moreover, we work on various committees including for the British Sleep Society and Sleep Research Society. Our group have also contributed to Parliament position statements, NICE guidelines and the Scottish Government’s strategy on mental health. 

COVID-19 and sleep 

With increased numbers of people developing problems with their sleep during the pandemic, the laboratory is conducting an online treatment study to try to prevent the development of long-term sleep problems in people who have recently reported poor sleep due to COVID-19.  

We have also been involved in creating guidelines on how we manage sleep during the COVID-19 crisis for: 


The lab has a programme of research examining the pathophysiology of insomnia. From this work, a training package on the assessment and early management of sleep health and sleep disorders has been commissioned by several NHS trusts and the Sleep Council.  

The group has also developed highly innovative Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Interventions for acute insomnia and contributed to the European Guidelines for the Treatment and Diagnosis of Insomnia. Moreover, the treatment protocol for acute insomnia was recently highlighted by the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine for the use in the current COVID-19 crisis. 


An emerging area of expertise being developed is in understanding the bi-directional relationship between our sleep, and circadian rhythms, and diet; known as chrononutrition. Our research in this area is already exploring how the content of food and its timing can impact on sleep quality and the impact of supplementation timing on human performance and recovery in athletes. 

Latest news  

Professor Jason Ellis recently gave a talk at Yale School of Medicine ‘When does sleep become the enemy?’ (scroll right to find the talk dated 02/03/2021). 


An addition to funders aforementioned, our work has also been funded by: Slumberdown, Calms, UCB Pharma, NHS Wales, NHS Education Scotland, ESRC, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Public Health England, National Institute of Health Research, National Institute of Aging, Action 4 Me, Macmillan, ME Association, Transport for London, Cherry Active, National Science Council of Taiwan, Institute of Sport Ireland, Irish Rugby Football Union, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, BBC, Champneys, My Healios, Nestle, National Bed Federation and Tune Hotels. 


Ellis, J. G., De Koninck, J., & Bastien, C. H. (2021). Managing Insomnia Using Lucid Dreaming Training: A Pilot Study. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 1-11.  

Santhi N, Ball DM (2020). Applications in sleep: How light affects sleep. Progress in Brain Research. 253:17-24. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2020.05.029.   

Perlis, M. L., Vargas, I., Ellis, J. G., Grandner, M. A., Morales, K. H., Gencarelli, A., ... & Thase, M. E. (2020). The Natural History of Insomnia: The Incidence of Acute Insomnia and Subsequent Progression to Chronic Insomnia or Recovery in Good Sleeper Subjects. Sleep. 

Akram, U. Drabble, J. Cau, G., Henshaw, F., Rajenthran, A., Lowe, M., Trommelen, C. & Ellis, J.G. (2020). Exploratory study on the role of emotion regulation in perceived valence, humour, and beneficial use of depressive internet memes in depression. Scientific Reports. 

Altena, E., Baglioni, C., Espie, C.A., Ellis, J., Gavriloff, Holzinger, B., Schlarb, A., Frase, L., Jernelöv, S. & Riemann, D. (2020). Dealing with sleep problems during home confinement due to the COVID-19 outbreak: practical recommendations from a task force of the European CBT-I Academy. Journal of Sleep Research. 

Meadows, R., Nettleton, S., Hine, C., & Ellis, J. (2020). Counting sleep? Critical reflections on a UK national sleep strategy. Critical Public Health, 1-6. 

Angelova, M., Karmakar, C., Zhu, Y., Drummond, S. P., & Ellis, J. (2020). Automated Method for Detecting Acute Insomnia Using Multi-Night Actigraphy Data. IEEE Access, 8, 74413-74422. 

Vargas, I., Nguyen, A. M., Muench, A., Bastien, C. H., Ellis, J. G., & Perlis, M. L. (2020). Acute and Chronic Insomnia: What Has Time and/or Hyperarousal Got to Do with It?. Brain Sciences, 10(2), 71. 

Elder, G. J., Wetherell, M. A., Pollet, T. V., Barclay, N. L., & Ellis, J. G. (2020). Experienced demand does not affect subsequent sleep and the cortisol awakening response. Nature and Science of Sleep, 12, 537. 

Elder, G. J., Alfonso-Miller, P., Atkinson, W. C., Santhi, N., & Ellis, J. G. (2020). Testing an early online intervention for the treatment of disturbed sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic (Sleep COVID-19): structured summary of a study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 21(1), 1-3. 

Nuñez, A., Rhee, J. U., Haynes, P., Chakravorty, S., Patterson, F., Killgore, W. D. S., Gallagher, R. A., Hale, L., Branas, C., Carrazco, N., Alfonso-Miller, P., & Grandner, M. A. (in Press). Smoke at night and sleep worse? The associations between cigarette smoking with insomnia severity and sleep duration. Sleep Health. 

Ghani, S.B.; Delgadillo, M.E.; Granados, K.; Okuagu, A.C.; Alfonso-Miller, P.; Buxton, O.M.; Patel, S.R.; Ruiz, J.; Parthasarathy, S.; Haynes, P.L.; Molina, P.; Seixas, A.; Williams, N.; Jean-Louis, G.; Grandner, M.A. Acculturation Associated with Sleep Duration, Sleep Quality, and Sleep Disorders at the US–Mexico Border. Int. J. Environ.Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 7138. 

Khader, W. S.,Fernandez, F. X., Seixas, A., Knowlden A., Ellis, J., Williams, N., Perlis, M. L., Jean-Louis, G., Killgore, W. D. S., Alfonso-Miller, P., and Grandner, M. A. (2020). What Makes People Want to Make Changes to Their Sleep? Assessment of Perceived Risks of Insufficient Sleep as a Predictor of Intent to Improve Sleep. Sleep Health. 

Tubbs, A.S., Gallagher, R., Perlis, M.L., Hale, L., Branas, C., Barrett, M., Gehrels, J., Alfonso-Miller, P., and Grandner, M. A. (2020). Relationship between insomnia and depression in a community sample depends on habitual sleep duration. Sleep Biol. Rhythms (2020). 

Grandner, M. A. Hall, C., Jaszewski, A., Alfonso-Miller, P., Gehrels, J., Killgore, W. D. S., and Athey, A. (2020). Mental health in student athletes: Associations with sleep duration, sleep quality, insomnia, fatigue, and sleep apnea symptoms. Athletic Training and Sports Health Care. 

Grandner, M. A., Olivier, K., Gallagher, R. A., Hale, L., Barrett, M., Branas, C. C., Killgore, W. D. S., Parthasarathy, S., Gehrels, J, and Alfonso-Miller. P. (2020). Quantifying the impact of real-world barriers to sleep: The Brief Index of Sleep Control (BRISC). Sleep Medicine. 




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