Insufficient sleep and circadian disruption

Insufficient and/or poor-quality sleep can have severe consequences for our health, performance and safety.  Sleep disruption occurs in both working and clinical populations where it may be an indicator or driver of disease progression.


Sleep disturbance can take many forms and includes acute sleep deprivation/extended wakefulness, being abruptly awoken (e.g., emergency responders), and chronic sleep restriction. In addition, circadian misalignment, where the circadian clock is inappropriately aligned with the desired sleep/wake schedule, as occurs in shift work and jet lag, also results in short, poor quality sleep episodes. Insufficient or mistimed sleep and/or operating at an adverse circadian phase not only impacts both physical and cognitive performance but may have safety implications as it can lead to poor decision-making and slower reaction times.

We are concerned with assessing the prevalence of sleep disruption in emergency responder/military populations as well as the development and testing of interventions to improve sleep/circadian rhythms in operational and clinical settings, including administration of specific lighting and caffeine. 

Current research projects

Selected publications

Muto V, Jaspar M, Meyer C, Kussé C, Chellappa SL, Degueldre C, Balteau E, Shaffii-Le Bourdiec A, Luxen A, Middleton B, Archer SN, Phillips C, Collette F, Vandewalle G, Dijk DJ, Maquet P. Local modulation of human brain responses by circadian rhythmicity and sleep debt. Science. 2016 Aug 12;353(6300):687-90. doi: 10.1126/science.aad2993. Erratum in: Science. 2016 Dec 23;354(6319):null. PMID: 27516598.

Skorucak J, Arbon EL, Dijk DJ, Achermann P. Response to chronic sleep restriction, extension, and subsequent total sleep deprivation in humans: adaptation or preserved sleep homeostasis? Sleep. 2018 Jul 1;41(7). doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsy078. PMID: 29722893.

Möller-Levet CS, Archer SN, Bucca G, Laing EE, Slak A, Kabiljo R, Lo JC, Santhi N, von Schantz M, Smith CP, Dijk DJ. Effects of insufficient sleep on circadian rhythmicity and expression amplitude of the human blood transcriptome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Mar 19;110(12):E1132-41. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1217154110. Epub 2013 Feb 25. PMID: 23440187; PMCID: PMC3607048.

Archer SN, Laing EE, Möller-Levet CS, van der Veen DR, Bucca G, Lazar AS, Santhi N, Slak A, Kabiljo R, von Schantz M, Smith CP, Dijk DJ. Mistimed sleep disrupts circadian regulation of the human transcriptome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Feb 11;111(6):E682-91. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1316335111. Epub 2014 Jan 21. PMID: 24449876; PMCID: PMC3926083.

Laing EE, Johnston JD, Möller-Levet CS, Bucca G, Smith CP, Dijk DJ, Archer SN. Exploiting human and mouse transcriptomic data: Identification of circadian genes and pathways influencing health. Bioessays. 2015 May;37(5):544-56. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400193. Epub 2015 Mar 14. PMID: 25772847; PMCID: PMC5031210.

Loomis S, McCarthy A, Dijk DJ, Gilmour G, Winsky-Sommerer R. Food restriction induces functional resilience to sleep restriction in rats. Sleep. 2020 Oct 13;43(10):zsaa079. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsaa079. PMID: 32518958; PMCID: PMC7551307.

Nollet M, Hicks H, McCarthy AP, Wu H, Möller-Levet CS, Laing EE, Malki K, Lawless N, Wafford KA, Dijk DJ, Winsky-Sommerer R. REM sleep's unique associations with corticosterone regulation, apoptotic pathways, and behavior in chronic stress in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Feb 12;116(7):2733-2742. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1816456116. Epub 2019 Jan 25. PMID: 30683720; PMCID: PMC6377491.

View all our selected publications