Past 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.

Sleep Apnoea cardioVascular Endpoints Study (SAVE)

SAVE is a multi-centre, randomised, controlled trial to determine the effects of nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in preventing cardiovascular (CV) disease in high risk patients with moderate-severe obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Overlap between insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea (COMISA Study)

Insomnia and OSA occur together much more than expected for 2 separate conditions overlapping purely by chance. OSA could worsen insomnia by making the transition into established sleep much more difficult than normal, and insomnia could worsen OSA by promoting more light sleep where OSA events occur particularly frequently.

In addition, patients with insomnia and OSA may find normal treatments more difficult to tolerate than most OSA patients. Flinders University and AISH are investigating potential links between OSA and insomnia and methods for improving treatments.

New supine-avoidance therapy for posture dependent obstructive sleep apnoea (SUPA-OSA Trial) or snoring (SUPA-Snorer Study)

Many heavy snorers could be effectively treated by simply avoiding sleeping on their back. Classic supine-discomfort based treatments are remarkably effective, but most patients cease treatment within a few months due to the inherent discomfort of this approach.

AISH helped to develop and test a simple vibration alarm device to monitor and record sleep posture and discourage supine sleep (BuzzPOD), without discomfort and with minimal sleep disturbance to the bed partner. We have already shown the device accurately and reliably records body position almost completely abolishes supine sleep and appears to be highly effective in treating supine OSA. However, long-term acceptance and use of this therapy in OSA patients, and effectiveness in snorers remain to be established. Two separate projects are investigating treatment effectiveness and outcomes in in patients with supine-mainly OSA (SUPA-OSA study) and supine-mainly snoring (SUPA-Snorer study).

To find out if you are eligible for the SUPA-Snorer study, select aishresearch and complete the online screening questionnaire. Recruitment for the SUPA-OSA study has been finalised.

To be eligible for the SUPA-Snorer study you would need to;

  • Ideally have had a sleep study (that we can check) or discussed your sleep problems with your GP to rule out OSA.
  • Regularly sleep on your back and have problem snoring mainly on your back.

If you are a student interested in Honours or PhD opportunities within this project please visit the Prospective Students page for more information.


Limited versus Full Testing for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (LIFT-OSA)

This is a national study funded by the Australasian Sleep Trials Network which will involve patients from seven sleep centres throughout Australia.

Patients suspected of having OSA usually undergo a full sleep study in a laboratory to confirm the diagnosis, which involves monitoring of sleep stages, breathing patterns, oxygen levels, heart rate and leg movements. Simplified sleep recording devices have been developed with fewer channels which record only breathing patterns and/or oxygen levels overnight, without recording of sleep stages. This study will assess whether patients who receive treatment from a sleep specialist on the basis of a simplified sleep study recording will do as well, in terms of improvement in symptoms, as patients who have had a full sleep study.


Sleep disordered breathing in patients with Sjögren's syndrome

Sjögren's syndrome is an auto-immune disorder characterised by dry mouth, eyes and airways, and marked sleepiness and fatigue. AISH has previously found that OSA is common in patients with Sjögren's syndrome, suggesting that dry airways may help explain OSA and sleepiness in these patients. A current study is examining the effect of a surface tension lowering agent (surfactant) on OSA severity in Sjögren's syndrome patients with OSA.

Biological and Behavioural Rhythms of Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder

Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD) makes it difficult to get to sleep and wake up at normal times causing loss of sleep. It impacts health, mood, daytime activity, social obligations, and occupational needs. DSPD is highly prevalent in the adolescent and young adult population and can impair the start to adult life.

Past theories of its cause based simply on a delay of circadian rhythms in DSPD and treatments based on these theories have not been supported by experimental evidence or clinical treatment success. We intend to use an innovative laboratory method to comprehensively study, for the first time world wide, the circadian rhythm causes of DSPD. The results will allow the development of effective treatments for this disabling sleep disorder. Initial results suggest that DSPD have rhythm cycle lengths (time taken to complete one cycle) that are abnormally long (over 25 hours) thus leading to an abnormally strong tendency to delay with respect to the 24-hour world. This suggests that aggressive and persistent treatments (morning bright light and evening melatonin) will be necessary to treat this condition. Supported by an ARC grant (2012-4). For more information visit Professor Leon Lack's web page, School of Psychology, Flinders Univerity of South Australia. Volunteers interested in participating in this project please contact Dr Nicole Lovato.

Randomised controlled trial of melatonin for Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD)

Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD) is a primary sleep disorder affecting 7-16% adolescents and young adults. Symptoms include markedly delayed sleep onset and inability to wake up for activities such as schooling and work with poor health outcomes in particular depression, impaired academic and social functioning.

We aim to conduct the pivotal study to test the efficacy of melatonin (0.5 mg) for DSPD. We predict that, compared to placebo, melatonin treatment will result in: (1) earlier sleep onset time; (2) improved sleep efficiency; and (3) reduced sleep-related daytime impairments. As secondary aims, we will examine the role of the Per3 gene in treatment response and assess clinician-rated change in severity of illness. These latter findings will inform pharmacogenetic approaches to the treatment of Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. The study will establish a standardised treatment protocol for DSPD. We will also establish a diagnostic test for DSPD and identify whether polymorphisms in the circadian gene Per3 influence treatment response. Supported by an NHMRC grant (2012-4). For more information visit Professor Leon Lack's web page, School of Psychology, Flinders Univerity of South Australia. Volunteers interested in participating in this project please contact Dr. Helen Wright.