Research on health effects of sleep features in BBC1 documentary ‘The truth about…sleep’

V0011624 A hospital ward for insomniacs. Pen drawing by G.E. Studdy(?I have been working on sleep and health for around 7 years now. When I first started there was very little interest. A clinician, on a national funding committee, said to me “why are you worried? Sleep is natural…” I think this attitude is finally changing.

Graham LawYou may have seen an increased interest in the media in relation to sleep. There are news articles, nearly daily, about the new research and the ‘dangers’ of bad sleep. I suppose they need to sell papers. I was recently part of a BBC1 programme (‘The truth about…sleep’) with Michael Mosely. They approached us to conduct some sort of experiment. Working with my colleague (Dr Eleanor Scott) we recorded the blood glucose in 6 participants for a week. During this time, they were required to reduce their time asleep by 3 hours on 2 consecutive nights.

The results took us by surprise. We know that this should have some sort of impact, but all six participants had raised glucose the days after their sleep restriction. And the rise was around 0,5mmol/L which, as well as being statistically significant, is clinically significant. I am busy writing this up for a journal.

Hopefully, we are going to carry on this idea by looking at shift-workers. That is the plan….

By Prof Graham Law

Professor Graham Law joins the School of Health and Social Care and CaHRU as Professor of Medical Statistics

Graham Law, appointed Professor of Medical Statistics, joined the School of Health and Social Care in February 2017. He has worked for 23 years in medical and healthcare research and student education. He has published many papers and books in a wide range of different fields such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular epidemiology, gastrointestinal disease, pregnancy and childbirth.

Graham LawOver the past six years he has been working on sleep research, using both experiments and observations. On sleep he has published papers using the National ‘Understanding Society’, with colleagues in Copenhagen and Cambridge on glucose control in people with diabetes, and using a cohort of women with gestational diabetes. These projects included a paper recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Graham attracted investment for, set up and ran the Leeds ‘Sound Asleep Laboratory’ and is on the UK Biobank Sleep Expert Group. He is Honorary Secretary of the British Sleep Society and in June is publishing a book titled ‘Sleep Better: from myth to science’.

Recently Graham has developed an interest in a statistical field known as Functional Data Analysis, where you stop reducing data to a single number such as the mean, and try to accept, exploit and embrace complexity. Using this he has published, for example, papers on change in birth weight immediately following delivery (used by the WHO publication ‘Beyond Survival’ published in 2013) and changes in glucose during the day and night (for example in Diabetes Care and NEJM).

He is currently working on a number of cohorts including using accelerometer data to assess sleep in the UK Biobank data. This collected data on 100 000 people wearing an accelerometer (think of a Fitbit) for a week.

Are you a student having trouble sleeping? Would you like to sleep better?




The Oxford Access for Students Improving Sleep (OASIS) study offers an effective state of the art sleep improvement programme to all students who take part.  This involves a 6 week course and keeping a sleep diary.  The course is delivered via the web and mobile phone.  In addition you’d be required to complete online assessments.  There are no face to face appointments.

We are offering this as part of a research study to find out if improving students sleep also improves their emotional wellbeing.

To find out if you’re eligible to take part, please register your interest on the study website and you will receive a link to a short sleep test (2 minutes).

The OASIS study is run by Oxford University’s world-leading Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi) in collaboration with Lincoln University’s Community and Health Research Unit (CaHRU).

CaHRU’s REST project features in Health Foundation’s stories of outstanding impact in primary care

REST-ABOUT1The Resources for Effective Sleep Treatment (REST) project featured in the Health Foundation’s recent newsletter, ‘Stories of outstanding impact in primary care‘. The REST project is an ongoing area of research within the Quality and Outcomes in Primary Healthcare group at CaHRU led by Prof Niro Siriwardena and involving other members of the team including Fiona Togher, Viet-Hai Phung, Dr Coral Sirdifield, Dr Jo Middlemass and Dr Zowie Davy. The project was initially funded by the Health Foundation under their Engaging with Quality in Primary Care scheme to improve primary care for people with insomnia. Subsequent work has been funded by the Research Investment Fund at the University of Lincoln, the EPSRC and the East Midlands Health Innovation and Educational Cluster.

restlogoThe research seeks to improve treatment for people suffering with sleep problems by promoting a range of treatment options beyond just sleeping tablets and has led to a series of peer-reviewed and highly cited publications in journals such as the British Journal of General Practice, Health Expectations, Sleep, Biomed Central Family Practice, and the British Medical Journal. Subsequent research has also been undertaken in collaboration with other institutions including Universities of Glasgow, Connecticut and Ghent and also Harvard and Oxford Universities.2. E-learning - HOME - Rollover

The project led to its own REST project website ( in 2011 and a REST e-learning programme for primary care professionals on how to manage insomnia using non-drug therapy which has been accessed almost 12,000 times by 10,000 users in over 150 countries with over 5,000 users in the UK alone. REST was showcased as one of three impact case studies submitted from CaHRU to REF2014.

Sleep, health and wellbeing: NICE Topic Advisory Workshop

Professor Niro Siriwardena, director of CAHRU, attended a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) topic advisory workshop on sleep, health and wellbeing. The event was hosted by NICE and chaired by Professor Colin Espie, Professor in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Oxford.

Manchester1Attendees were invited experts on sleep and insomnia including sleep scientists, clinical respiratory specialists, public health experts interested in problems of insomnia at various ages from around the United Kingdom. Delegates contributed to discussions about the importance of sleep at various ages, the effects of insomnia on health and the public health implications of poor sleep. The main outcome of the meeting was agreement that sleep was an important public health issue and that NICE would consider developing a public health guideline for insomnia.

Professor Siriwardena and the CaHRU team have been working over the past few years on studies aimed at improving primary care for insomnia. This will be the topic of a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine, London, where experts from the UK and US will discuss ‘CBT for insomnia disorder: evidence base and practical implementation methods‘ on 19 November 2005.