ISSR leads the development of a Priority Research Agenda for Sleep in Society

26 Feb 2020

Sleep is an important health and social issue. It strongly predicts a number of life-long development outcomes (including new learning and mental health), work-related outcomes (including stress, absenteeism, occupational safety, and performance) and many important social outcomes (including loneliness and isolation, social support and engagement, family and interpersonal relationships). 

Despite its importance, there is currently no clear ‘go to’ authority on the intersection between sleep security and social science. Our experts are establishing, for the first time, a research agenda for sleep and society, which is a critical step towards addressing the significant social and economic burden of sleep insecurity across the life course.

“Many of us do not yet know how vital sleep is throughout our lives, that’s why these messages need to be distributed far and wide.” – Ms Laetitia Coles

A group of researchers at ISSR, led by Dr Sally Staton and Professor Simon Smith, facilitated a two day workshop in late 2019, Sleep and Society: Continuity and Chaos across the Life Course, focused on the interplay of sleep and social functioning, which bought together established and emerging leaders in sleep and social science across Australian and New Zealand to address this new societal challenge. This national workshop was funded by the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, in collaboration with the Life Course Centre and ISSR.

The workshop was framed around four themes linked to sleep and the life course stages of children; adolescents and young adults; adults; and older adults. Through a series of “individual to group consensus” activities participants identified a total 25 key priorities that were subsequently grouped in to six key domains with priority research areas and associated research questions relevant to each. 

Our social world shapes our thoughts and beliefs. So maybe we need to reframe the social stories we tell about sleep. One of the biggest takeaways from today is that we need and want to be making changes in public policy.” – Dr Jessica Paterson

six key domains
The six key domains for informing policy sleep security and social science

To read more about the workshop, domains and their associated priority areas and key research questions you can access the report here (PDF, 5.6 MB).

Building on the this priority research agenda, late in 2019, ISSR led the inaugural Asleep @ UQ symposium which brought together research leaders involved in the rapidly developing fields of sleep, circadian rhythms, and chronobiology from across UQ.  This symposium showcased the breadth of activity across UQ Faculties and Institutes and consolidated a UQ-wide commitment to work towards new research networks and collaborations, in particular the development of the proposed UQ Sleep Laboratory (see profile on Professor Simon Smith for further information).

If you’re interested in collaborating with ISSR on any aspect of this research agenda please contact