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Managing Sleep to Enhance Mental Wellbeing in Parkinson’s Disease (Ref: RDFC22/HLS/PSY/SANTHI )

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr Nayantara Santhi  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Sleep serves a functional role in cognitive wellbeing across our lifespan. It is a sensitive indicator and predictor of mental problems in healthy and pathological aging. Sleep disturbances such as frequent awakenings, abnormal timing and poor sleep quality are common in older adults. They are amongst the earliest symptoms to appear in conditions like Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and one of the most common non-motor symptoms impacting the patients’ mental wellbeing. A hypothesis is that sleep disruption is central to PD onset and disease progression in turn drives further sleep disruption. Improving sleep could break this self-perpetuating cycle and thereby reduce the burden of mental decline. 

Slow oscillations in electrical brain activity during sleep (known as slow-wave-sleep; SWS) are restorative and functionally critical for waking activities and wellbeing. SWS in particular, has been shown to benefit performance in declarative tasks such as word-pair associate learning. Whether modifying neural parameters of sleep, such as EEG, is as beneficial for People with Parkinson’s (PwP) is an open question and the central on in this research. Specifically, the project will explore ways of achieving this in sleep in a natural environment. Therefore, the use of wearable technologies and non-pharmacological approaches, such as acoustic stimulation, will be the focus of this PhD.

The project will be supervised by Drs Nayantara Santhi and Annette Hand. The project will be based at Northumbria University. It is a collaboration between faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Northumbria University and SOMNOmedics GmbH (Germany). 

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

·      Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

·      Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

·      Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see


Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDFC22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 11th July 2022

Interviews: approx 25th July

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our doctoral students. We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme. We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers. 

Informal enquiries to Dr Nayantara Santhi ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

The studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2022/23 this is £16,062 per year) and full tuition fees. Only Home candidates may apply, due to funding constraints.
Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• have settled status, or
• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


Santhi N*, Lazar AS*, McCabe PJ, Lo JC, Groeger JA, & Dijk D-J (2016). Sex differences in the circadian regulation of sleep and waking cognition in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci (PNAS) 113(19): E2730-9
Shochat T, Santhi N, Herer P, Dijk DJ, Skeldon AC (2021). Sleepiness is a signal to go to bed: data and model simulations. Sleep. PMID: 33991415.
Shochat, T.,* Santhi, N.,* Herer, P., Flavell, S.A., Skeldon, A.C., Dijk, D-j (2019). Sleep Timing in Late Autumn and Late Spring Associates With Light Exposure Rather Than Sun Time in College Students. Front. Neurosci., doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.00882. [*Equal contribution]
Hand A, (2018) Understanding the care needs and profile of people living at home with moderate to advanced stage Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology July 2018, doi.org/10.1177/0891988718788680
K. Ray Chaudhuri, Annette Hand, Fallon Obam & Jonathan Belsey (2022) Cost-effectiveness analysis of the Parkinson’s KinetiGraph and clinical assessment in the management of Parkinson's Disease, Journal of Medical Economics, DOI: 10.1080/13696998.2022.2080437
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