Sleep Health

    Several projects with the aim to improve sleep in both adults and children are currently underway:

    Melatonin for initial insomnia in stimulant-treated paediatric ADHD (Funded by NHMRC)

    MyNap project contact: 


    Melatonin for insomnia in Parkinson's Disease (Funded by Wesley Medical Research)

    Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive, degenerative neurological condition affecting a dopamine system of the brain, resulting in movement disorders.  It is Australia’s second commonest neurological disease and is growing in numbers at a rate of 17% per year over the last six years. Approximately two thirds of patients with Parkinson’s disease experience one or more sleep-related non-motor symptoms, with insomnia being the most common reported in 37% of patients. The neurodegenerative process in the brainstem, disturbances of circadian rhythm, the effect of symptoms of Parkinson's Disease on sleep, and concomitant sleep disorders contribute to sleep disturbances.

    Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland which regulates the sleep-wake cycle, temperature regulation, reproductive rhythm, and immune function. Melatonin regulates the circadian rhythm by promoting the desire to sleep at night. Studies in other populations indicate that melatonin can increase sleep efficiency, decrease night-time activity, and shorten sleep latency, and may be particularly effective to help promote sleep onset.

    Sleep disorders often cause major discomfort in Parkinson’s Disease and impact on the health and quality of life of sufferers and their families. Despite the recognised impact of sleep disturbance in PD, there have been few studies in this area.

    Melatonin is used to help sleep, but this scientific study will determine whether there is a true effect in individual patients with Parkinson’s disease. By recording individual symptoms in a sleep diary and using a watch to record sleep patterns, we will be able to identify individual responders and non-responders to melatonin.

    This will have positive impacts on health and quality of life for both patients and their family members (especially carers).

    Participating in the study

    To be eligible for this study people must be:

    • Aged over 30 years
    • Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease by a neurologist
    • Experiencing sleep difficulties, particularly getting to sleep.

    If already on melatonin you can still join the study.

    Please click on the links below to download more detailed information about our study.

    Three good reasons for taking part in this study

    1. You will find out if melatonin helps you by improving your ability to get to sleep, and your sleep duration and quality.
    2. At the end of your time on the study, a detailed and individual report about whether the melatonin worked for you will be given to your doctor to discuss with you.
    3. You will help others by assisting us to determine if melatonin should be included in treatment plans for people with Parkinson’s Disease who are having trouble sleeping

    Parkinsons project contact:

    Other sleep health projects include:

    • Randomised double blind placebo controlled phase III trial of oral melatoning for the prevention of delirium in hospitalised advanced cancer patients

    • How much improvement in sleep time is enough? A survey of parent, clinicians and consumers

    • Actigraph validation study

    Other projects

    • Single Patient Multiple Cross-Over Trials To Determine The Efficacy Of Pilocarpine 5mg Orally Dissolving Tablets In Relieving Dry Mouth In Patients Experiencing Xerostomia
    • A series of N-of-1 trials to assess therapeutic interchangeability of two Enalapril formulations in the treatment of hypertension, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    • A pilot series of n-of-1 randomised controlled trials to compare Pregabalin and Gabapentin for persistent neuropathic pain

    Completed projects

    • Using n-of-1 trials to determine the effectiveness of paracetamol in advanced cancer patients on opioids. (Funded by the NHMRC)
    • Using single patient trials to determine the effectiveness of psycho-stimulants in end stage fatigue in cancer patients. (Funded by the NHMRC)
    • N-of-1 trials of stimulants compared to placebo for traumatic brain injury in children. (Funded by Motor Accident Insurance Commission)