Brussels, 22 Apr 2005
The European Commission is to provide 4.4 million euro to establish a new multidisciplinary Marie Curie research training network to investigate the causes and implications of poor sleep, as well as finding ways of improving it.
Sound sleep is crucial for a person's health and well-being, but sleep disruption and a lack of proper rest are increasingly becoming a problem in Europe with people's changing lifestyles. As these trends have worrying implications for general health as well as raising safety issues at the workplace and on the roads, it is vital that scientists gain a better understanding of the biomedical and sociological factors that cause poor sleep.
The newly established network will provide funding for 24 doctoral and post-doctoral researchers to undertake training in this field of research in academic institutions outside their home country. Six organisations make up the network: the school of human sciences and the school of biomedical and molecular sciences at the University of Surrey (UK), the University of Helsinki (Finland), the Free University Brussels (Belgium), the Max Planck Institute (Germany) and the University of Zurich (Switzerland).
The teams at the University of Surrey will look at two distinct areas of sleep research. Sara Arber will lead a research team looking into how couples aged from 20 to over 70 negotiate their sleep and sleeping arrangements; why divorced a widowed people experience more sleep disturbance; and how sleep quality is related to health, psychological well-being and socio-economic factors, as well as gender age and marital status.
The researchers working in Debra Skene's team, meanwhile, will analyse how circadian rhythms (the body clock) and a person's physiology can be affected by short wavelength light, and how this light may also affect sleep quality in older people with sleep disturbances. The team will also investigate how acute sleep loss can affect the body's metabolism and hormones.
Professor Arber says: 'We are enthusiastic to welcome social and biomedical researchers from across Europe to undertake multi-disciplinary training and research, further strengthening our high quality team of sleep researchers at [...] Surrey, and thereby enhance European capacity to solve sleep problems.'
The network is scheduled to run for four years until March 2009.
For further information the Marie Curie actions, please consult the following web address: