Current Projects

AISH is recognised around the world as a leading centre for clinical and basic research, with special emphasis on sleep breathing disorders and insomnia.

Our projects are funded by the Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council, Flinders University, Industry and Foundation Daw Park.


Current NHMRC funded research programs


National Centre for Sleep Health Services Research - Positioning Primary Care at the Centre of Sleep Health Management

This major new five year, $2.5 million National Health and Medical Research Council grant project will draw in new and old techniques to more efficiently manage sleep health problems in primary care which are increasing health care costs around the world.

Led by Flinders University, the National Centre for Sleep Health Services Research aims to position primary care systems at the centre of sleep health management.  The project will bring together expertise from the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, primary health specialists and health services researchers to redesign, test and reorganise health care practices to better manage sleep problems both in Australia and internationally.

CRE Overview

Quest to put sleep disorders to rest


A new clinical tool to assess fitness-to-drive in obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) affects 1 in 4 middle aged adults. OSA results in impaired neurobehavioral function, excessive sleepiness, and more than  2-fold increased  motor  vehicle  crash risk and workplace accidents. 

There is an urgent need for new, simple and cost effective clinical tools that can be used routinely in all patients to assist clinicians and policy makers to assess alertness failure and accident risk in OSA. Clinicians cannot rely on patient self-report or standard sleep study metrics to assess accident risk and it is simply impractical to send every driver or transport worker with OSA for a day-long MWT assessment. This project provides a unique and much needed opportunity to change the approach to driving risk assessment in OSA.


Wind Farm Noise Study

Project title: "Establishing the physiological and sleep disruption characteristics of wind farm versus traffic noise disturbances in sleep"

The expansion of wind farm facilities in Australia has been associated with widespread community complaints regarding noise, sleep disturbance and adverse health effects. This 5-year collaborative study is testing how much windfarm noise disturbs sleep compared to traffic noise, a better understood noise known to disturb sleep according to noise levels.  More information about this study is available at

A study on wind farm noise, being conducted at Flinders University in Adelaide, is setting out to find out just how the noise from wind turbines affects people's health.


Health impacts of sleep apnea in Australian men- a longitudinal population study

A 3 Year project  (Lead Institution: University of Adelaide). Participating Institution (Flinders University).   Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is very common, seen in 60-70% of men over 40 years old. OSA is linked to a number of serious conditions, e.g.heart disease and diabetes. However, we don't know which men are at risk of long term complications from OSA.  Our aim is to follow-up men from a community sample of 1000 men who had sleep studies in 2010 to help identify who is at risk of poor health from OSA.


Surgery of the upper airway trial for patients with moderate-severe Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

This is a multi-centre, randomized controlled trial of airway surgery for moderate-severe symptomatic OSA to establish for the first time whether or not upper airway surgery is clinically effective, safe and cost effective for those who have failed medical management.

Upper airway reconstructive surgery for OSA is widely used and reported in observational studies but there are few rigorous randomized clinical trials to provide and validate these observational studies. The clinical effectiveness, post-operative complications and incremental cost effectiveness are uncertain.

The posterior tongue is a major site of upper airway collapse and minimally invasive and safe surgery to that region could be a very effective surgical approach to OSA management. A very exciting new option for a surgical approach to reducing the volume of the tongue is coblation channelling of the tongue. Combined with modified uvulopalatopharyngoplasty and tonsillectomy where indicated, these surgical procedures are designed to minimize morbidity while addressing two common sites of sleep apnea obstruction, the palate and the tongue base. We have pilot data to suggest these surgical procedures are very effective and safe.

Investigators include: A/Professor Nick Antic, Professor A. Simon Carney, Professor Doug McEvoy, A/Professor Peter Catcheside, Dr Ching Li Chai-Coetzer, Professor Edward Weaver, Professor Peter Cistulli, A/Professor Stuart MacKay, Dr Charmaine Woods, Dr Eng Ooi, Dr Michael Chia, Dr Aeneas Yeo, Dr Andrew Jones, Mr John-Charles Hodge, Professor Julie Ratcliffe, Dr Stephen Quinn, Dr Guy Rees, Dr Billingsley Kaambwa, Dr Terry Sands.



Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Alertness Safety and Productivity

The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health and Flinders University are an integral part of a national Federal Government funded CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity. The CRC aims to develop a range of innovative strategies to reduce fatigue and sleepiness and related injuries, enhance workplace performance and improve sleep related health and quality of life. The CRC includes an extensive education and training program to support PhD students and postdoctoral research fellows involved in the seven-year CRC program.


Current other research projects


Unravelling the mechanisms of stabilised breathing in deep sleep

Breathing becomes much more stable in deep sleep, even in most patients with OSA, but the mechanisms underlying this effect are unknown. In a series of studies AISH is investigating factors that may help explain this effect; such as changes in arousal "threshold" and responses to arousal, and breathing effort and upper airway muscle control. Through a better understanding of these mechanisms AISH hopes to design and test new treatments for stabilising breathing throughout sleep.

A new device for stabilising respiratory control during sleep

AISH has developed a prototype device for preventing low carbon dioxide levels and low breathing conditions following periods of increased breathing such as occurs with brief arousal and some abnormal patterns of breathing. This study will examine the effect of this device in OSA.


Sleep disorders as a potential phenotype of fatigue in stroke patients

This project will profile the prevalence of sleep disorders in stroke patients and examine their contribution to post stroke fatigue (PSF), a major post stroke complaint 50% of patients. We hypothesize that sleep disorders, particularly obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), along with insomnia, will be highly prevalent and contribute to feelings of fatigue in those with stroke.

40-45 consecutive stroke patients will be invited to participate in this study. Initially participants will be complete a sleep, fatigue, and general health questionnaire. Their daily activity and sleep behaviour will be recorded for one week. Participants will then be asked to undergo a diagnostic polysomnography (PSG) test. The questionnaires will subjectively identify sleep disorders, whilst the PSG will objectively identify sleep disorders.

This study will identify the prevalence of sleep disorders in stroke patients and how they contribute to PSF. The results will highlight the potential importance of treating sleep disorders in this population and will guide the future treatment intervention trials and clinical practice in stroke.  Please contact AISH if you are interested in this study and like more information.


Breathe MND-1 Study

Respiratory muscle weakness occurs commonly in patients with Motor Neurone Disease, and can develop at any stage of the disease.  This weakness may result in shortness of breath, difficulty lying flat, unrefreshing sleep, morning headache, impaired quality of life and sleepiness.

We are hoping to better understand the nature of abnormal breathing patterns in MND patients so that we can best tailor treatments to improve patients’ breathing, sleep and quality of life.    As part of our study, we are testing the usefulness of a new ‘smart’ form of mask ventilation and comparing it with one that is currently used.