Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory

Investigating the relationship between sleep and depression

Most people with depressive and bipolar illnesses experience poor sleep – too little, too much, or sleep that is not restful or restorative. Sleep disturbances can also bring about new episodes of these illnesses.

The University of Michigan Depression Center’s Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory is a world-class research facility that studies sleep and biological rhythms regulation from childhood through adulthood by measuring brain activity using a technology called electroencephalography, or EEG. The Sleep Lab’s goal is to discover and create more effective interventions that do not require medication so that people with depressive illnesses can improve their quality of life.

The Sleep Lab is equipped with comfortable, private bedrooms and shower facilities, a full kitchen, and a restful environment conducive to sleeping away from home. The lab includes two unique state-of-the-art chronophysiology labs to study the effects of light, sleep, and biological rhythms.

About the Lab

The Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory is comprised of two separate laboratories: a conventional sleep laboratory and a state-of-the-art chronophysiology laboratory to study sleep and biological rhythms. The laboratories are housed within the Depression Center of the beautiful Rachel Upjohn Building. The building and the laboratories are secure after hours, with electronic card access to staff and faculty.

The primary Sleep Lab has six private bedrooms, a shared bathroom with shower, and a central control room.

In order to create a comfortable homelike environment, each bedroom has a twin bed with a high quality pillow top mattress, down-filled pillows and comforter (non-down alternatives are available for those with allergies), as well as an armoire for clothing and other belongings. All linens are 100 % cotton with a high thread count and professionally laundered. Each bedroom is temperature controlled, electromagnetically shielded and equipped with a fiber optic cable for data transmission and a call button to alert staff of any needs during the night.

The control room is equipped with 10 computers for data collection and processing, and has a folding acoustic partition which can split the sleep lab into two 3-bedroom labs. During the night, the control room is staffed by one or more research technicians who ensure the quality of data collection and comfort of research participants.

The chronophysiology laboratory is comprised of a control room and two suites. The control room has a kitchenette, intercoms for communicating with research participants in the suites, and computers for controlling the lights and for collecting and processing data. Each private suite has a bedroom, living room, and bathroom with shower. The bedrooms have double beds, bedside tables and clothing armoires. High-quality mattresses and bed linens have been chosen for each suite. The living rooms are set up with a queen size sofa bed, coffee table, armchair, etc. Each suite is electromagnetically shielded, sound proof, isolated from building vibrations, and temperature controlled with separate controls for both its living room and bedroom. Both of the living rooms and the bedrooms are equipped with fiber optic cables for data transmission, and the bedroom has a call button to alert staff of any needs during the night.

The living room has an advanced computer controlled light system which can recreate the brightness, color, and timing of sunlight (or artificial light) from any location on the earth, on any day of the year. This system makes it possible to create days that are longer or shorter than 24 hours, or 24 hours days that are synchronized with any time zone. It also holds great potential for exploring the use of bright light for treating depression and sleep disorders.

The Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory also has a kitchen, family interview room, and a workshop for repairing equipment.

The Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory uses portable battery-powered sleep EEG data acquisition systems that are capable of recording data in the laboratory or at remote sites such as the inpatient facilities at the University of Michigan Hospital.


Join a Study

We need volunteers to be involved in our research examining the relationship between depressive disorders and sleep. We have a strong interest in the biological risk factors for depression and how a major depressive disorder can affect the sleep of both children and adults. Insomnia and biological rhythm problems are also a focus of our clinical service and research program.

Participate in research at the Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory. Most of our studies require a minimum of two overnight sleep studies.

General Eligibility Requirements for Research Participation

  • Generally medically healthy
  • Ability to participate in psychiatric evaluation (approximately 1-2 hours)
  • Ability to spend 1-4 consecutive nights in the Sleep Lab (varies with study)

Call the Mental Health Research line at (734) 232-0255, or visit to learn more about these and other opportunities to participate in sleep research.


Helpful Links

Sleep Lab Faculty

Todd Arnedt, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Co-Director, Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory