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Sleep researchers from five European countries will study the mechanism of sleep regulation


A multidisciplinary international consortium will study the secrets of sleep disorders applying new methods.

Dr. Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen (Stenberg) MD, PhD, at the Institute of Biomedicine, University of Helsinki, coordinates a new EU-funded project, which addresses the mechanisms of sleep regulation. The "Enough Sleep" – project is a forerunner in combining several research disciplines into an integrated program and incorporating a company to develop commercial products based on the new results.

The Enough Sleep-project consists of research teams from seven universities and research institutions in Finland, Holland, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland. The Finnish SMS-company Nexstim Oy has joined the project to provide the researchers with the most advanced research instruments and to develop new software. The 6th Framework Programme funds this three year STREP project with 1, 4 million euros.

Regular sleep is essential for mental and physical well being. There is still much to be learned about how different sleep regulation mechanisms are coordinated and how they affect the rhythm of sleep and wakefulness. By analyzing and understanding these mechanisms, we can develop new methods to treat sleep disorders and possibly also mental disorders.

Dr. Porkka-Heiskanen is enthusiastic about this multidisciplinary, international consortium. "The regulation of sleep in several brain areas will be studied by the experts, and based on this information we will be able to clarify how these different regulation mechanisms work together. The research on the basic mechanisms of sleep regulation will be combined with experimental and clinical research. By including the SMS-company in the project we can also develop new programs and devices for the analysis of brain functions."

The National Public Health Institute of Finland (NPHI) is one of the Partners in this project. The researchers from the NPHI, together with an Italian team of psychiatrists, will study the psychiatric aspects of sleep and sleep loss, as well as the relation of sleep disorders and disturbances in the mental health.

Through the NPHI the project has access to the results of a large epidemiological study, Health 2000, covering about 9000 people in Finland. "The possibility to analyze the psychiatric aspects from this large material gives us a huge advantage", says Dr.Porkka-Heiskanen.

The partners in the “Enough Sleep” sleep research project are:

• University of Helsinki
• Karolinska Institutet
• University of Verona
• Leiden University Medical Center
• University of Zurich
• National Public Health Institute
• University of Milano
• Nexstim Oy

Paivi Lehtinen | alfa
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