Sleep - Potential Student Projects

Title Explanatory StatementSupervisor/sCourse
The STEPS ProjectThe STEPS (Study of Teenagers’ Emotions, Performance, and ‎Sleep) Project examines adolescents’ daily experiences with sleep, ‎mood, and cognitive functioning over school terms and vacation. It ‎utilises Ecological Momentary Assessment methodology, and ‎collects rich daily data that are directly applicable to adolescents’ ‎mental health, school performance, and overall wellbeing. This ‎project would welcome 1 enthusiastic Honours student for 2018.‎Dr Bei Bei, Linda Shen‎ 
The SEED ProjectThe SEED (Sleep, Eat, Emotions, and Development) Project is a ‎randomised controlled trial on a cognitive behavioural sleep ‎intervention and a healthy diet intervention for new mothers during ‎pregnancy and the postpartum periods. This trial collects a ‎comprehensive amount of information about sleep and mental health ‎of the mother and the infant. We look forward to 1-2 enthusiastic ‎Honours students joining this project for their research.‎Dr Bei Bei, Donna Neemia‎ 
The POSSUM ProjectThe POSSUM (Postpartum Sleep Study for Mothers) Project is a ‎randomised controlled trial combining bright light therapy and ‎cognitive behavioural therapy for first time mothers with sleep ‎disturbance and fatigue between 6-12 months postpartum. The ‎project team would welcome 1 enthusiastic Honours student for ‎‎2018.‎Dr Bei Bei, Sumedha Verma 
Researching Effective Sleep Treatments (REST): Improving the ‎Effectiveness of Treatments for Insomnia by Involving the PartnerInsomnia is prevalent and associated with large personal and ‎economic impairment. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia ‎‎(CBTI) is the frontline intervention for treating insomnia. It ‎produces greater sleep improvement compared to no treatment, ‎progressive relaxation therapy, and placebo interventions. While ‎CBTI is extremely efficacious, it only works when one actually ‎adheres to and completes treatment. CBTI requires significant ‎behaviour and lifestyle changes that are often difficult for clients. ‎Thus the areas associated with behavioural changes demanded by ‎CBTI expected to diminish outcomes are 1) treatment protocol ‎adherence; and 2) attrition. Thus, finding ways to increase ‎adherence and decrease attrition is important for maximising CBTI ‎effectiveness. There are currently no evidence-based ‎recommendations for improving either CBTI adherence or ‎completion. This study tests a new CBTI variant designed to ‎increase adherence and decrease attrition, doing so via bed partners.‎

All evidence points to the fact that partners affect each other’s ‎sleep. In “partner-assisted” interventions, partners play a supportive ‎role, acting as surrogate therapists, and help clients make ‎behavioural changes outside of the therapy setting. Including ‎partners in treatment in terms of adhering to difficult behaviour ‎change and teaching partners to reduce well-intentioned, but ‎ineffective, accommodating behaviours can optimise important ‎environmental and behavioural conditions. Thus, incorporating a ‎partner into CBTI has the potential to significantly increase positive ‎outcomes. However, partner-assisted interventions have never been ‎tested in insomnia treatment. This study is the first to develop a PA-‎CBTI and would be the first well controlled test of this new ‎intervention.‎
Prof Sean Drummond, Dr Alix Mellor 
Daily Sleep, Affect, and Dietary PreferenceResearch suggests that individuals’ dietary preferences and choices ‎are related to sleep. However, most studies have been cross-‎sectional or lab-based and it remains unclear whether natural ‎variations in sleep (vs lab-based sleep deprivation studies) relate to ‎diet. Finally, the sleep-diet link may be related to affective ‎changes. Two competing hypotheses are: (1) sleep -> affect -> diet ‎and (2) sleep moderates the affect -> diet relationship, such as by ‎altering impulsivity/emotion regulation. This is a 7-day, naturalistic ‎study involving actigraphy-assessed sleep, daily 24-hour dietary ‎recall (energy intake, macronutrient distribution), and ecological ‎momentary assessment of positive and negative affect.‎Dr. Joshua Wiley 
Correlates of Sleep Intraindividual Variability During Breast CancerIntraindividual variability (IIV) refers to night-to-night fluctuations ‎in sleep parameters. This study is a part of a randomized clinical trial ‎evaluating a novel intervention to improve sleep and sleep-related ‎impairment in women with breast cancer treated at PeterMac. This ‎study will examine psychosocial and breast cancer treatment-related ‎factors related to self-reported and actigraphy-assessed sleep IIV ‎across 6 weeks in women with breast cancer. Students will also have ‎the opportunity to learn structured interviews, such as the M.I.N.I. ‎and Duke Structured Interview for Sleep Disorders.‎Dr. Joshua Wiley, Helena Bean (DPsych candidate)‎ 
Long term efficacy of an intervention to improve sleep and memory complaints in older individualsOlder individuals exhibit changes in sleep quality and quantity, in addition to a decline in cognition function. Rather than being parallel indices of age-related change, sleep disturbance is thought to drive cognitive dysfunction in older adults. Interventions to improve sleep, with an ultimate aim of improving cognitive outcomes, are a clear focus for our laboratory. This study will examine a longer term follow-up (beyond 3 months) for individuals exposed to an enriched environments intervention designed to improve sleep and cognitive outcomes in older adults with subjective memory complaints.A/Prof Clare    Anderson
Jessica Manousakis
Honours
Anatomy of a fatigue-related eventThis study will examine the physiological and behavioural precursors to falling asleep while driving. Understanding earlier warning signs of a fatigue-related driving event will allow for earlier intervention, and better designed system to detect a crash or near crash event.A/Prof Clare Anderson
Prof Shantha Rajaratnam
PhD
Honours
Predicting vulnerability to sleep deprivationLarge inter-individual differences exist in the response to sleep deprivation. For some, cognition is severely impaired, whereas for others, cognition remains relatively intact. This project is part of a large funded study, and entails examining genotypic and phenotypic predictors of vulnerability to sleep loss. As part of this CRC funded project, the successful candidate will work in a large team of researchers, undergo extensive research training in sleep and circadian medicine, and have the opportunity for external research placement.A/Prof Clare Anderson
Prof Shantha Rajaratnam
Prof Sean Drummond
PhD
Stress, Mood, Behaviour, and DiabetesRates of diabetes are increasing. Non-adherence to recommended lifestyle behaviours (physical activity, healthy diet, medication adherence) contributes to poor blood sugar control, placing many adults at risk for complications and early death. This study examines daily mood, psychosocial stress, coping resources and health behaviours to identify what determines adherence to taking medications and blood sugar control. Findings will guide lifestyle interventions and expand our understanding of the role of stress and mood in engaging in healthy behaviours to optimise blood sugar control.  Opportunities for PhD or honours projects are available, including a control group comparison in people without diabetes.A/Prof Melinda Carrington
Dr Joshua Wiley
PhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Are all Stressors Equal?A large body of research demonstrates the negative impact of stress on health including on health behaviours (e.g., sleep), psychological health (e.g., depression, anxiety),  and physical health (e.g., inflammatory processes, mortality).  However, we know relatively little about whether all stressors are equal or whether particular types of stress are more relevant for particular aspects of health.  This study aims to compare and contrast different types of stressors with respect to health.  Results from the study will inform: (1) tailoring coping and stress management interventions to particularly critical types of stress and (2) targeting interventions to high risk individuals.

This study has room for several PhD or honours level projects.  It is expected that students will pick one health outcome to focus on (e.g., sleep, immune, cardio-metabolic, cognitive function).  Student projects will consist of two components.  First, leveraging existing epidemiologic data to examine the relations of stress and their focal health outcome.  Second,  a new data collection to replicate and extend the evidence from epidemiologic data.
Dr Bei Bei
Dr Joshua Wiley
PhD
Honours
Stress Resilience and SleepResearch shows that daily discrimination, family strain, and stressful life events are three types of stressors that are particularly deleterious for sleep.  However, not all individuals succumb to the deleterious effects of stress, with many exhibiting resilience.  This study examines the potentially protective role of approach/avoidance oriented coping strategies and psychosocial resources such as mastery and social support.  Specifically, this study examines whether any of these factors promote buffer the deleterious effects of stress on actigraphy-assessed sleep.Dr Bei Bei
Dr Joshua Wiley
Honours
Sleep meets clinical psychology: nature and mechanisms of sleep/wake behaviours, and improving sleep and wellbeing through cognitive-behavioural interventionsProspective students are invited to discuss research opportunities in the following areas:
(1) The psychological and behavioural regulations of sleep.
(2) The relationship between sleep and mental health (e.g. mood, anxiety, and other psychiatric symptoms/disorders).
(3) Sleep in women, including sleep and well being during the perinatal transition.
(4) Sleep/wake behaviours in adolescents, including the effects of restricted and extended sleep opportunities on adolescents' well being.
(5) Psychological interventions for sleep disturbance and insomnia.
Dr    Bei Bei + additional supervisor(s) based on topicPhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
Genetic predictors of alertness in patients with sleep apnoeaObstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common disorder which can cause serious impairments to alertness and daytime functioning. However, there is large heterogeneity in daytime sleepiness and functional performance between OSA patients. Some patients are obviously sleepy and are clearly at risk of workplace/motor vehicle accidents, while others, often with severe disease, do not exhibit any sleepiness or functional impairment and have never experienced a driving incident. The problem is the limited links between clinical metrics of OSA severity/subjective sleepiness and driving impairment and as such there is a lack of clinically reliable metrics to identify at risk patients. We have recently discovered a novel gene mutation that predicts the susceptibility to alertness failure in healthy individuals. The current project aims to assess the frequency of this mutation in an OSA population and determine its association with objective measures of alertness failure.Dr    Brad Edwards
Dr Sean Cain
PhD
Honours
Respiratory Phenotyping for Obstructive Sleep ApneaThe CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity will develop new products that will improve alertness for individuals and across organisations, resulting in higher productivity and enhanced safety. Current clinical management of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a common sleep disorder, uses constant positive airway pressure as first-line treatment but is poorly tolerated by many. Consequently, a more sophisticated/personalised approach to better target treatments to differing underlying physiological deficits and their characteristic respiratory phenotypes is required. Therefore this research stream aims to test and refine deployable methods to allow personalised treatment of OSA using therapies targeted to each individual’s main causal deficits.Dr Brad Edwards
Dr Shane Landry
A/Prof Garun Hamilton
PhD
Honours
Understanding the relationship between obesity and sleep problemsObesity has become a public health crisis impacting one in three Australians. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a disorder characterized by repetitive collapse or partial collapse of the upper-airway during sleep, is one of the most common medical complications of obesity and is independently associated with significant cardiovascular morbidity/mortality. However, many overweight/obese individuals do not have OSA for reasons that remain unclear. This project therefore aims to explore the differences in the clinical characteristics of obese individuals with and without OSA. Understanding the important factor(s) involved linking obesity with OSA is crucial for developing more effective interventions and treatment strategies.Dr Brad Edwards
Dr Shane Landry
A/Prof Garun Hamilton
PhD
Honours
Sleep during withdrawal and recovery from addictionSleep is a major concern in those undergoing withdrawal from drugs of dependence, and it continues to be a problem throughout recovery. This project will examine how sleep changes during these phases using a variety of objective and subjective measures of sleep. Through understanding how different components of sleep are disturbed, relevant interventions can be delivered for delivery within the detox setting.Prof    Dan Lubman
Dr Rowan Ogeil
PhD
DPsych(Clinical)
Honours
Shiftworkers, their sleep habits and use of wake-promoting and sleep promoting drugsWe live in a world that runs on a 24/7 schedule, with many services and industries operating at all hours. Some shiftworkers use drugs to help them operate at their peak ‘uppers’ and also to help them sleep after a work period ‘downers’. This project aims to examine use of these drugs within a shift-working sample, and explore in depth their reasons for use, impacts on their performance and subsequent effects on sleep.Prof Dan Lubman
Dr Rowan Ogeil
PhD
DPsych(Clinical)
Honours
Understanding and conceptualising the sleep environments of drug usersSleep has been described as one of the three pillars of good health along with a good diet and sufficient exercise. However our understanding of how different groups who commonly experience poor sleep such as drug users is limited. This project aims to characterise what is ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ sleep according to alcohol and other drug users, examine what they perceive as causes of any sleeping problems, and what impacts sleep problems have on people’s lives.Prof Dan Lubman
Dr Rowan Ogeil
PhD
DPsych(Clinical)
Honours
Sleep, Cognition, and Mental HealthProfessor Drummond is interested in working with motivated honours students wanting to learn about sleep research. Prof Drummond's research covers 2 main areas: 1) sleep and mental health, especially insomnia and/or PTSD; and 2) sleep deprivation and cognition. His studies involved healthy control and patient groups and include both experimental and clinical research. The exact honours project has not yet been determined, so students excited by these areas are encouraged to contact Prof Drummond to discuss their interests.Prof Sean DrummondHonours
Researching Effective Sleep Treatments (REST): Improving the Effectiveness of Treatments for Insomnia by Involving the PartnerInsomnia is prevalent and associated with large personal and economic impairment. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBTI) is the frontline intervention for treating insomnia. It produces greater sleep improvement compared to no treatment, progressive relaxation therapy, and placebo interventions. While CBTI is extremely efficacious, it only works when one actually adheres to and completes treatment. CBTI requires significant behaviour and lifestyle changes that are often difficult for clients. Thus the areas associated with behavioural changes demanded by CBTI expected to diminish outcomes are 1) treatment protocol adherence; and 2) attrition. Thus, finding ways to increase adherence and decrease attrition is important for maximising CBTI effectiveness. There are currently no evidence-based recommendations for improving either CBTI adherence or completion. This study tests a new CBTI variant designed to increase adherence and decrease attrition, doing so via bed partners.

All evidence points to the fact that partners affect each other’s sleep. In “partner-assisted” interventions, partners play a supportive role, acting as surrogate therapists, and help clients make behavioural changes outside of the therapy setting. Including partners in treatment in terms of adhering to difficult behaviour change and teaching partners to reduce well-intentioned, but ineffective, accommodating behaviours can optimise important environmental and behavioural conditions. Thus, incorporating a partner into CBTI has the potential to significantly increase positive outcomes. However, partner-assisted interventions have never been tested in insomnia treatment. This study is the first to develop a PA-CBTI and would be the first well controlled test of this new intervention.
Prof Sean Drummond
Dr Alix Mellor
PhD
Understanding the cause, impact and treatment implications of increased obstructive sleep apnoea in post-traumatic stress disorder.Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition in which a person’s upper airway closes off during sleep. This leads to low levels of oxygen and multiple awakenings during the night.  Research has shown individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder have an increased risk of developing OSA (60% of those with PTSD also have OSA), but reasons for this are not yet known.  This study is intended to explore which characteristics may cause OSA in people with PTSD. We will use this information to understand why people with PTSD are more likely to develop OSA, and to develop better treatments. Given the increased prevalence of OSA in PTSD and the related negative long-term consequences, there is a vital need to understand the causes of OSA in this population. Prof Sean Drummond
Dr Brad Edwards
 
Validation of Consumer Sleep Trackers The general public is becoming increasingly interested in their own sleep health. This has lead to an explosion in demand for consumer sleep trackers. This should be a good thing. That is only true, though, if these devices accurately measure sleep. So they? That is what we hope to find out. We want to know if sleep trackers are valid in healthy sleepers, young and old adults, those with sleep disorders and other populations. This project will test multiple consumer sleep trackers in multiple populations. Fun, interesting, and very likely to result in a publication. What's not to like?Prof Sean DrummondPhDHonours
The Impact of Sleep Restriction and Circadian Misalignment on Decision MakingIncreasingly in today's military, individuals function without adequate sleep and/or are awake and functioning during their biological night. Such sleep loss and circadian misalignment have significant consequences. Sleep loss and circadian disruption reduce operational readiness, and are both risk factors for occupational accidents and injury, increased rate accidents among drivers and pilots, and contribute to impaired physician performance and worse patient outcomes. All of these consequences can likely be related, in part, to decisions made under conditions of sleep deprivation and/or circadian misalignment. A plethora of studies have documented sleep loss and/or circadian related impairments in a variety cognitive domains, including attention, memory, working memory, and various executive functions. Despite these well documented findings, relatively little empirical work has investigated how decision making is impacted by sleep deprivation and/or circadian rhythms. There is a critical need for such information, so we can better understand how these realities so common in operational settings impact decisions. The current project will be the first to systematically assess the effects of sleep restriction, circadian misalignment, and the combination of both on specific components of decision making. The sleep manipulations are designed to mirror common types of sleep disruptions experienced in the military, and we will utilize well developed decision tasks measuring core components of decision making relevant for operational settings. We will compare decision making during a well-rested state to 3 experimental conditions; 1) sleep restriction; 2) circadian misalignment and 3) combined sleep restriction + circadian misalignment. Decision tasks will measure: a) integration of multiple pieces of information into a single decision; b) strategic reasoning during decisions; and c) strategic interactions with others.Prof Sean DrummondA/Prof Clare AndersonProf Shantha Rajaratnam PhD
A sustainable program for better sleep during pregnancy and postpartum periodsPoor sleep and symptoms of insomnia are common during pregnancy and postpartum periods, and have been linked to postpartum depression, poor birth outcomes, and poor maternal-infant bonding. Cognitive behavioural interventions have lasting benefits on sleep and well being, but are not easily accessible to new parents in the community, and are not currently part of routine care. This unique doctoral research opportunity will allow a highly motivated student to work on a clinical translational research project that aims to incorporate a "healthy sleep" component in routine perinatal care.Prof Shantha Rajaratnam
Dr Bei Bei
PhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Circadian-enhanced cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia in the treatment of comorbid insomnia/depressionFor a long time it has been thought that insomnia was a symptom of depression. Several lines of evidence now clearly demonstrate that the insomnia can play a causal role in the development and maintenance of depression, and that circadian rhythm misalignment may be an independent contributor to both insomnia and depression. This project aims to test whether a novel cognitive behavioural therapy intervention for insomnia (CBT-I) that includes characterisation of the phase of the circadian system and strategies to promote circadian stability, improves both insomnia and depression outcomes.Prof Shantha Rajaratnam
A/Prof Sean Cain
Dr Bei Bei
PhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Sleep health and alertness management in occupational settingsRapid advances have been made in our understanding of the control of alertness and in the evidence base for successful methods of implementing organisational and community-based interventions. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to begin a new era in alertness management to reduce the avoidable costs to safety and productivity. The CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity will develop new products to improve alertness for individuals and across organisations, resulting in higher productivity and enhanced safety. Three available projects will examine sleep health programs, the management of sleep disorders, neuropsychological testing and interventions for alertness management in occupational settings.Prof Shantha Rajaratnam
Dr Tracey Sletten
PhD
Influence of short wavelength light on the electrophysiology of attentional lapsesAttentional processes such as sustained attention are known to be critically influenced by arousal levels. We have recently studied the influence of short wavelength light (blue enriched white light) on the electrophysiological correlates of spatial selective attention. This project extends this work to ask whether prior exposure to blue enriched white light can ameliorate attentional lapses during sustained attention tasks and also modulate its associated electrophysiology, measured using EEG.Prof Shantha Rajaratnam
Prof Mark Bellgrove
PhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
Squirming, sleeping, & slumping: Understanding the safety implications of children’s behaviour in carsIt is well known that children do not sit perfectly still in the rear seat of cars, rather small children tend to squirm, slide, slump, sleep and interact with the driver and other vehicle passengers. Such behaviours may not only affect the effectiveness of their child restraint system (CRS) but may also have a negative influence on driver performance and distraction. Using innovative Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS) methods, the large-scale study is documenting the natural behaviour of child passengers during real world car trips, including the circumstances which promote/reduce their out-of-position (OOP) status and how this might affect injury outcomes. Another component of the study is focused on the impact of child passengers on driver distraction and driving performance measures. Data collection is complete and a database of 42 families (approximately 100 children) is available to students for in-depth analysis. Example topics for Honours projects include:
  • How safe is the sleeping child? This project would suit a student with a computer science/engineering background and could involve building an algorithm to identify the head positions of sleeping children.
  • Are fun-purpose trips (e.g., to sports/games events) more likely to lead to safer CRS positions than trips for other purposes (e.g., to school)? This project would suit a student with a behavioural studies (Arts, Psychology, Education) with an interest in child behaviour.
Dr Sjaan Koppel
A/Prof Jude Charlton
PhD
Honours

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