Sleep Medicine Program

The Sleep Medicine Research Program at the University of Michigan Medical School spans the continuum from basic, preclinical science through translational and clinical investigation. Research on humans and patients has focused on engineering better sleep, sleep across the age spectrum, and sleep in the context of other medical and particularly neurological conditions.

More than 30 faculty and clinicians working directly with the Sleep Disorders Centers, and a larger group of more than 70 faculty who participate in the U-M Center for Sleep Science, lead some of the most productive sleep research programs in the country. They have contributed important new knowledge on common and consequential conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, parasomnias and restless legs syndrome.

The underlying, unifying goal of sleep research at the University of Michigan is to envision and innovate better health, productivity and quality of life through better sleep.

Collaborations between sleep physicians - themselves with backgrounds in neurology, otolaryngology, pediatrics, psychiatry, internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, and family medicine - and engineers at the University of Michigan, Michigan Technological University, and industry have advanced biomedical innovation with an aim to improve the way sleep disorders are identified, investigated and managed. 

For example, these collaborations have led to patented algorithms designed to maximize the clinical utility of signals recorded during laboratory-based sleep studies, new electronic apps that could improve management of sleep and circadian rhythm disorders, and a novel device alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea among patients who do not tolerate CPAP.

Research Across Ages

Research across the age spectrum, from conception through adulthood, is particularly strong at this institution. Members of the Sleep Disorders Centers study the impact of sleep and its disruption on maternal and fetal health, critically ill neonates, cognitive and behavioral problems in young children, challenges faced by inner-city schoolchildren and well-being of college students.

Applications Across Neurological Disorders

Finally, much of the sleep research at the University of Michigan has focused on the nature, assessment, impact and treatment of sleep disorders that frequently appear to complicate other neurological disorders. For example, researchers have studied contributions of sleep disorders to the fatigue that so many patients with multiple sclerosis list among their main complaints.

Other investigators have focused on the adverse impact of obstructive sleep apnea after stroke, in the context of Parkinson disease, or on children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. This institution has contributed important information on sleep among patients with epilepsy, and the role of sleep disorders in Alzheimer’s disease.