Research

We currently have several studies running in our lab, everything from large grant funded projects to smaller student generated ideas. Many of these studies are inter-related, bringing together several interests and team members. If you want to consider becoming a research participant in any of these studies, please go here to see all our studies currently seeking participants. If you want to consider joining a study as a team member, please contact the study lead or study coordinator by looking them up, here.

Current Studies

Australian Research on Insomnia, Stress & Emotions (Project ARISE)

This project looks at the relationships between insomnia, stress and emotions. Individuals with insomnia enrol in a free 7-week course of treatment, and undergo sleep and emotion-based testing sessions before and after treatment. This study is led by Sean Drummond and coordinated by Dr. Alix Mellor. For more information, click here.

Remembering Emotional Memories during Sleep

This project examines the role sleep plays in basic fear processes related to development, maintenance, and treatment of PTSD and anxiety disorders. Healthy adults live in the lab for 4 nights and days and either sleep normally, or have their sleep schedules changed on two nights. They undergo a startle test on several days to measure the fear system. This study is led by Sean Drummond and coordinated by Dr. Jacob Clark.

Adaptive Attributes in Police shift work Tolerance (Project ADAPT)

Shift work tolerance is a term used to describe not experiencing negative health and wellbeing outcomes (e.g., depression, anxiety, insomnia, shift work disorder) often associated with shift work. Currently it is unclear which factors promote shift work tolerance in new emergency personnel, who often experience high levels of stress and sleep problems. This study aims to examine protective factors in new police officers during their early career. In this longitudinal study, we measure resilience, social support, sleep-related traits (such as morningness and circadian flexibility), mental health, physical health, and sleep. New police officers are tracked every 6 months starting during their academy training until 24 months of active duty. This project is conducted in collaboration with industry and is led by Alexander Wolkow and coordinated by Rachael Harris.

Sleep and Health in Ambulance Paramedics Employees and Students (SHAPES) Project

The number of emergency personnel reporting sleep problems is high (due to shift work, stress, etc.), so too is the proportion who report mental health conditions. This study examines the role of sleep disturbances in the development of mental health outcomes in emergency service personnel. In this longitudinal project, we measure sleep, mental health, and stress responses in new recruit paramedics, prior to them experiencing any emergency work. We then conduct follow up assessments in these personnel at 6- and 12-monthly intervals during active duty in the ambulance service. This project is conducted in collaboration with industry and the Paramedic Health and Wellbeing Research Unit. The study is led and coordinated by Alexander Wolkow.

Sleep and Performance

For elite athletes, getting optimal sleep is of utmost importance for recovery and performance. Led by Dr Elise Facer-Childs, this new research program investigates the impact of sleep and chronobiology on health and performance in athletes. We run studies with the wider community as well as doing more focused funded work with established industry partners who are elite sporting organisations (AFL, NRL and WNBL). Within the elite groups the aim is to provide some useful feedback to aid organisations with their management of mental and physical health of their athletes. The Sleep and Performance team also includes Daniel Hoffman (Data Analyst), Luis Mascaro (PhD student) and Jennie Tran (Honours student).

Sleep and Appetitive Conditioning

Learning processes are linked to the development of various psychological disorders, as are sleep disturbances. The aim of this project is to examine the impact of sleep disruption on appetitive conditioning and identify potential sleep mechanisms underlying the extinction of appetitive cues, as it relates to common psychological disorders. Participants are healthy adults or adults with insomnia and are asked to complete sleep monitoring and appetitive conditioning tasks on consecutive days. This study is led by Sean Drummond and coordinated by Eleni Kavaliotis.

Recently Completed Studies

Researching Effective Sleep Treatments (Project REST)

This project is testing a new non-pharmacological intervention for Chronic Insomnia. Specifically, we are testing if a bedpartner can help the individual with insomnia to more closely follow the treatment recommendations. Individuals with insomnia and their partners enrol in a 7-week course of treatment, where both people attend every treatment session and the partner learns how to help the individual with insomnia closely follow treatment recommendations. This is the first time a “partner-assisted” intervention has been tested in insomnia. This study is led by Sean Drummond and coordinated by Alix Mellor.

Refugees slEep and trAuma Care Research (REACH)

This is a multi-part PhD thesis project examining sleep in refugees who have arrived in Australia over the last few years. We are measuring sleep in both treatment-seeking refugees and those living in the community with no specific sleep complaints. We are examining the associations between sleep and mental health and how this may change over time. The study is led and coordinated by July Lies.

BASE Decision Study

Website: https://decisionstudy.com/

This project examines the impact of Sleep Restriction (getting insufficient amounts of sleep for several nights in a row) and circadian disruption (going to bed and waking up 4 hours earlier than normal) on several kinds of decision making. Healthy participants live in the lab for 4 nights and days, where we test decision making and other aspects of cognition. This study is led by Sean Drummond and coordinated by Michelle Bravo.

The Impact of Sleep Loss on Performance Monitoring and Error-monitoring

This project examines whether sleep deprived individuals can accurately recognise errors and performance deficits. This question is currently being examined in three separate studies: (1) a total sleep deprivation study (no sleep for one night); (2) a chronic sleep restriction study (multiple days of 3 hours sleep), and; a circadian misalignment study (normal sleep on a different schedule). This study is led by Johanna Boardman.

The neural correlates of insomnia and sleep state misperception

We are not all equal in the face of sleep. A large (and growing) number of individuals experience difficulties falling or staying asleep. Despite the prevalence of this phenomenon, the neural underpinnings of insomnia are still unclear. In this project, we will leverage access to large database of sleep recordings (EEG) and novel advances in machine learning to identify neural signatures of insomnia. We will also pay a close attention to sleep state misperception, which is characterised by a disconnect between what is reported by individuals (i.e. they can’t sleep) and what is recorded in the lab (i.e. close-to-normal sleep). The project is led and coordinated by Thomas Andrillon.

PTSD-relevant factors which contribute to mouse-models of fear inhibition: sex, sleep and circadian rhythms

This PhD project examines the influence of PTSD-relevant factors (sex differences, circadian disruption, and pharmcological REM sleep modulation) on mouse models of fear inhibition (fear extinction and safety learning). This project is part of a collaboration between Monash University, The University of Melbourne, and the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health. This study is led and coordinated by Jacob Clark.

Honours Projects

Every year, honours students bring energy and exciting ideas to the team. This year’s projects include:

  • Exploring Shift Work in Graduate Paramedics: Longitudinal Study on Depression, Anxiety, and Shift Work Disorder. This project investigates changes in mental health and sleep during the first 12 months of a paramedic’s career. The study also investigates different factors impacting the development of shift work disorder.
  • Circadian misalignment and Mental health in insomnia: This study aims to understand if there is an association between circadian misalignment and mental health impairments in an insomnia population. The project also investigates the efficacy of CBT-I in relation to underlying circadian issues.
  • Comparing therapeutic outcomes of CBT-I in individuals with insomnia-only and those with comorbid insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (COMISA). This project investigates whether individuals with comorbid insomnia and mild obstructive sleep apnea respond poorer to CBT-I compared to individuals with insomnia-only by measuring mental health variables (insomnia severity, depression and anxiety symptoms) and sleep variables (sleep efficiency).
  • Sleep, chronotype and mental health in athletes: A response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This project aims to investigate training patterns, sleep patterns, chronotype and mental health in athletes, as well as the impact of COVID-19
  • Investigating the Pathogenesis of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea in Individuals with Co-morbid Insomnia and Sleep Apnoea (COMISA). There are four underlying traits which contribute  to Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) development. This project is investigating the contributions of these four traits (known as endotypes) to OSA development in individuals who also present with insomnia. Furthermore, this project is assessing the clinical utility of Actigraphy in predicting the severity of one of these traits to guide treatment decisions.