Which sleep apnea patients have problems with alertness and attention?


This study will investigate which clinical tests can be used as novel brain biomarkers of neurobehavioural dysfunction in patients which sleep apnea, who are at an elevated risk of sleepiness-related performance deficits. We will expose participants to a 28-hour Extended Wakefulness Challenge to evaluate their sensitivity to sleep loss and explore which biomarkers predict performance impairment. We will use simulated driving and other performance tasks as the gold standard assessment of neurobehavioural dysfunction. The study will take place at the Australian Centre of Chronobiology, Endocrinology and Sleep Services (ACCESS) laboratory, a state of the art facility with a 5 bedroom purpose-built, controlled environment for human sleep, circadian and neurobehavioural experimentation located at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.


Professor Ron Grunstein

Research Location

Camperdown - Woolcock Institute of Medical Research

Program Type



Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the most common sleep disorders affecting up to 10% of the middle-aged population and is associated with poor health outcomes, increased risk of motor vehicle crashes and workplace accidents. However, not all patients with OSA display daytime sleepiness or performance impairment. This makes it difficult for doctors as there are currently no means by which to clinically identify which individual sleep apnoea patient may be at risk of performance impairment due to sleepiness. This may sometimes lead to inappropriate treatment or driving restrictions in OSA patients with no or minimal risk of performance impairment, while potentially missing the patients who are at risk. This research would improve the identification, clinical care and treatment of patients with OSA, who are more vulnerable to sleepiness and thus may be at increased risk of performance failure (e.g. motor vehicle crash).

Additional Information

 Part of this three year NHMRC funded project would be suitable for an honours or masters student with an interest in neurophysiology and sleep research. For more information about this project opportunity please contact Dr Andrew Vakulin on 02 9114 0443

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memory, motor vehicle accidents, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, sleep deprivation, neurobehavioral function, vigilance, driving performance

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1172

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