Mental Health & Neurology

Post-Doctoral Fellowships


New hopes if counting sheep is not working for you

If you find yourself counting sheep every night in a desperate attempt to fall asleep, you are probably suffering from primary insomnia disorder. Sleep of short duration or poor quality has well-known negative impacts as it affects our physical and mental health. Firstly, it increases our unhealthy and impulsive behaviors. Secondly, it increases a wide range of risks, such as the risk of accidents, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, stroke, cancer, cognitive impairment and dementia. It is also the causes of chronic healthcare expenditures and absenteeism at work. Improving sleep is nowadays a health imperative, particularly in modern industrialized societies, However, since little is known on what happens in the brain that prevents people to have good quality sleep, Enzo Tagliazzucchi has decided to find out which part of the brain is not working properly in people affected by insomnia disorder. Collecting information on a wide range of patients, both “bad sleepers” and “good sleepers”, he will study the mechanisms that prevent the brain to pass from wakefulness to recuperative sleep. Through the use of a web platform, the Netherlands Sleep Registry, he will access information voluntarily provided by patients on their quality of sleep through an online questionnaire. He will originally combine this information with data collected through psychological and neuroimaging techniques, such as electrophysiology and functional magnetic resonance imaging, never been used before to understand anatomical and functional causes of sleep disturbance.

Tagliazucchi’s findings will be useful to characterize different profiles of sleepers and how likely they are to develop correlative disorders such as depression. His results could provide a strong basis to design both specific pharmacological treatments and recommendations on behaviors that can have a positive impact on sleep quality, ultimately leading to avoiding impulsive and risky behaviors that prevent from a healthy lifestyle. Finally, by providing a better understanding of causes and consequences of inadequate sleep, his results could help optimally implement and evaluate sleep-improving interventions, useful for a wide range of actors, from policy makers, health organizations and healthcare providers, to private companies.

Scientific title : The Neurophysiology And Epidemiology Underlying Health Risks In Populations Suffering From Sleep Disturbances
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Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience





ORCID Open Researcher and Contributor ID, a unique and persistent identifier to researchers