Age-related changes of the circadian system and sleep; genetics of sleep and circadian rhythm disorders
We are interested in how aging alters the circadian clock system of mammals and its relationship to circadian rhythm and sleep disorders in humans. Our laboratory performs basic research with animals, as well as clinical research with humans.
Our basic science studies involve an examination of the neurochemical events which underlie aging of the circadian clock. A variety of pharmacological approaches are used to restore the responsiveness of the circadian system to light. In the clinical setting, we are quantifying exposure to synchronizing agents for the circadian clock in elderly patients to determine whether exposure to scheduled bright light and structured activity cycles will lead to an improvement in performance, mood, daytime alertness, and sleep.
It is hoped that the combined basic science and clinical approach will lead to important information which can be used to improve nocturnal sleep, daytime performance, and overall quality of life in older adults.