New IST project to improve sleep quality

March 10, 2004

Brussels, 09 Mar 2004

An Integrated Project, supported by the European Commission and bringing together 55 research facilities from Europe, China and Australia, is hoping to offer insight into the realm of sleep, stress and other emotions, while assisting with diagnosis and treatment for sleep disorders.

The SENSATION (advanced sensor development for attention stress vigilance and sleep/wakefulness monitoring) project has been allocated ten million euro of Community funding under the 'information society technologies' (IST) priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

The project will seek to develop novel, low cost and highly efficient technology to monitor brain activities, including the states of sleep and wakefulness, to help reduce accidents due to stress, inattention and hypovigilance.

It is estimated that 20 per cent of the population suffers from some sort of sleep disturbance, such as hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness with no apparent reason), narcolepsy (a permanent and overwhelming feeling of sleepiness and fatigue), insomnia (insufficient sleep and of poor quality), and sleep apnea (cessation of breathing during sleep).

Such disorders can cause extreme fatigue, loss of concentration and an inability to cope with routine activities, leading to traffic and work accidents. Accurately and routinely monitoring sleeping patterns will provide clues on how to improve sleep quality.

SENSATION will also look into the possibility of learning while sleeping, whether early disease markers can be detected, and whether humans can make do with less sleep.

'SENSATION aims to achieve the long-awaited breakthrough on sleep studies,' explained Dr Evangelos Bekiaris, the project coordinator for SENSATION.

'If we manage to primarily analyse the human brain activity in order to identify the sleep to wakefulness stages, and subsequently develop the required micro and nano sensors in order to monitor, predict and detect human physiological states, we will then have drawn a new horizon towards the enhancement of the quality of life and the reduction of all accidents related to sleep, by applying new innovative and totally unobtrusive systems for medical, industrial, transport and tourism applications.'

The aims and expectations of the SENSATION project will be presented at a conference on 30 September organised by the FP5 AWAKE project, which is dealing with the development of an unobtrusive driver monitoring system for the prevention of traffic accidents attributed to driver fatigue.

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CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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