SRI International’s Human Sleep Research Program is recognized for its dual expertise in conducting basic/clinical research studies as well as applied research and development (R&D) commercial work in the sleep tech space. The lab utilizes state-of-the-art equipment, observational and interventional designs, multidimensional data approaches and advanced analytics to conduct basic and translational research projects about sleep, brain functioning, and related physiology.
Basic and clinical science
Our work includes several National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored studies. We are investigating psychophysiological mechanisms underlying insomnia pathophysiology in adolescents and mid-life women using interventional and observational designs. Other areas of interest include:
- Developmental changes in sleep and brain structure and function across adolescence
- Links between sleep and memory in women
- The impact of pre-sleep psychophysiological manipulations (e.g., stress, alcohol intake) on sleep and cardiovascular regulation during sleep.
We use a wide range of innovative techniques including EEG, impedance technology, MRI and beat-to-beat blood pressure monitoring to gather physiological data which is further analyzed using sophisticated analytical techniques. These data are frequently combined with clinical and behavioral neuropsychological data.
Applied science and sleep technology
The Translational Sleep Technology Unit of the Human Sleep Research Program at SRI focuses on advancing science while also discovering and developing novel approaches and technologies to improve people’s sleep health and well-being. We also conduct validation and product development studies for commercial clients, particularly in the wearable technology space.
Recent reports and publications
Basic science & consortium studies grants
SRI’s Human Sleep Research Lab has a diverse portfolio of research and clinical NIH-funded studies.
National Consortium on Alcohol and NeuroDevelopment in Adolescence (N-CANDA)
N-CANDA is a multi-site longitudinal, adolescent development and behavior study which commenced in 2012 and has enrolled 831 volunteers between the ages of 12-21. The study is funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It investigates changes in brain structure and function across development in relation to changes in behavior, sleep, and alcohol use.
Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study
The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, funded by NIH, is the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. SRI is working with other top-level world-recognized universities and research institutes to track biological and behavioral development in relation to childhood experiences in more than 11,000 participants as they pass through adolescence and into young adulthood.
Sleep and Cardiovascular Health in Adolescence
Insomnia in adolescence is common, especially in older adolescence and girls, which poses a threat to their physical and mental health. Insomnia in adolescence is under-recognized, under-diagnosed, under-treated, and reasons for the female preponderance in insomnia are largely unknown. This project, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, aims to better understand the pathophysiology of insomnia in adolescence and factors that could contribute to the vulnerability for insomnia, such as female sex. It takes a novel approach to investigate manifestation and implication of physiological hyperarousal in adolescents with DSM-5 Insomnia Disorder using experimental manipulations of the pre-sleep arousal state via stress-induced and relaxation-driven up- and down-regulation of the autonomic system.
Sleep and Memory
This project aims to determine lifespan developmental mechanisms of sex and sex hormone impact on memory in young and midlife women and men. It uses a novel sleep-boosting intervention to further understand the potential protective role of sleep against cognitive decline. Knowledge gained from this proposal could lead to the development of unique non-invasive, sleep-focused interventions to slow cognitive decline and ultimately progression to Alzheimer’s disease in aging women. This project, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) is being completed in collaboration with Sara Mednick at University of California, Irvine.
The SRI Human Sleep Lab has experience and expertise in sleep technology development and testing. Our sophisticated facility is equipped with state-of-the-art lab equipment capable of collecting a broad range of psychophysiological data in healthy sleepers and pathological sleep conditions. We have access to an onsite institutional review board (IRB) and have experience in developing protocols for R&D projects as well as clinical trials. We have worked with various commercial clients to validate, develop and test investigational devices within the sleep technology space.
In addition, our team has unique capability in testing the performance of novel sleep-tracking technologies –e.g., wearable sleep trackers such as smart multi-sensors wristbands– to assess sleep and other physiological signals against gold standard lab polysomnography, research and clinical-grade equipment.
Featured reports and publications
A virtual reality-based mind–body approach to downregulate psychophysiological arousal in adolescent insomnia
A novel, digital, immersive virtual reality (VR)-based mind–body approach, designed to reduce bedtime arousal in adolescents with insomnia.
How the COVID‐19 Pandemic Has Changed Our Lives: A Study of Psychological Correlates Across 59 Countries
This study examined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social restrictions or quarantines on the mental health of the global adult population.
Effects of forehead cooling and supportive care on menopause-related sleep difficulties, hot flashes and menopausal symptoms: A pilot study
This pilot study explored the efficacy of a novel forehead cooling device for perceived sleep difficulties and hot flashes in menopausal-age women.
A standardized framework for testing the performance of sleep-tracking technology: Step-by-step guidelines and open-source code
Sleep-tracking devices are increasingly used in both research and clinical settings, providing new opportunities for large-scale data collection.
Stress, Sleep, and Autonomic Function in Healthy Adolescent Girls and Boys: Findings from the NCANDA Study
We investigated sex differences in the effect of stress on sleep and ANS activity in adolescents, using the first night in the laboratory as an experimental sleep-related stressor.
Impact of evening alcohol consumption on nocturnal autonomic and cardiovascular function in adult men and women: A dose–response laboratory investigation
Study Objectives: To investigate the dose-dependent impact of moderate alcohol intake on sleep-related cardiovascular (CV) function, in adult men and women.
The objective is to investigate the pre-sleep psychophysiological state and the arousal deactivation process across the sleep onset (SO) transition in adolescents.
The use of immersive virtual reality and slow breathing to enhance relaxation and sleep in adolescents
We evaluate the efficacy of a novel intervention based on virtual reality (VR) and slow breathing to promote bedtime relaxation and facilitate sleep in high-school adolescents.
Sleep Disturbance Predicts Depression Symptoms in Early Adolescence: Initial Findings From the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study
The aim of the study was to investigate associations between sleep disturbances and mental health in adolescents.