Sleep and Brain Research Unit at University of East Anglia has an available PhD position


Sleep disturbances are particularly common in people living with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia, and current evidence points to a bidirectional link between sleep disturbances and neurodegeneration. Assessment of sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness is most commonly based on self- or carer reports or actigraphy. These assessment tools have limited validity in characterising the true sleep features (e.g. reported sleep quality is often confounded by memory, mental health, and/or self-insight problems). Polysomnography (PSG) is the gold standard method of sleep assessment that can provide a reliable and detailed insight into the objective sleep and vigilance profile of the patient.

However, PSG is an expensive technology run by sleep specialists most commonly in a clinical sleep laboratory setting which is known to affect sleep and is not suitable for patients with MCI and dementia. The proposed PhD project aims to tackle this problem by combining the accuracy of PSG in detecting sleep and vigilance with the feasibility of a home-based sleep tracking technology coupled with automated analysis. The PhD project will aim to trial a novel but validated technology allowing for a high precision home-based assessment of gold standard objective sleep and vigilance features in patients with MCI and dementia. This approach will allow to accurately measure the clinical efficacy of interventions targeting sleep quality improvements and further optimize sleep biomarkers of cognitive decline and mental health, and the neurodegenerative disease process in dementia. The study will involve mixed methods.

The PhD project will be based in the Sleep and Brain Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich, United Kingdom, under the supervision of Dr Alpar Lazar and Prof. Chris Fox. This is an outstanding opportunity for strong and motivated candidates interested to pursue research related to sleep, ageing, cognition, and dementia. Interested students can have a background in *any* relevant subject (for example Psychology, Medicine, and Computer/Cognitive Science). The applications deadline is 28 February 2022. To find out more, visit: