Current and Recent Projects

We have a number of ongoing and upcoming research projects! Through our work with a variety of methodologies and populations, all of our research centers around the critical role of sleep in promoting and maintaining public health.


Current Projects

Executive Functions and Social-Cognitive Predictors of Behavioral Sleep Restriction

The purpose of this study is to examine the construct of behavioral sleep restriction, which occurs when individuals deny themselves the opportunity to achieve optimal sleep.  A number of neuro- and social-cognitive processes likely contribute to this behavior, which results in insufficient sleep and increased health risk.  This project will recruit 200 healthy, young adults to complete a neurocognitive task battery designed to estimate executive function (i.e., inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, working memory) and provide information about their perceived norms, behavioral control, and attitudes toward sleep.  Behavioral sleep restriction will be measured with a combination of actigraphy and self-report for one week.  We anticipate the completion of data collection in summer 2019.

Behavioral influence on sleep improvement efforts

This work is supported by funds from the National Science Foundation and the NDSU Department of Psychology.  The aim of this ongoing protocol is to systematically evaluate and refine a range of behavioral recommendations for sleep improvement (i.e., sleep hygiene recommendations).  Our protocol includes a 2 week baseline assessment period during which we monitor daily sleep characteristics (using actigraphy) as well as daily behavioral and environmental influences on sleep.  Baseline participants with objectively verified poor sleep are then recruited to participate in one of several behavior change protocols to directly test the impact of specific changes on sleep.  At present, this protocol examines caffeine use, napping, and sleep schedule regularity.

Recently Completed Projects

The role of visual attention in successful sleep health promotion

This work was supported by the NIH-funded Center for Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience (P30 GM114748).The purpose of the study was to understand how visual and cognitive processes (e.g., attention) through the use of sleep hygiene education materials relate to actual behavior change. Our protocol included a week-long baseline assessment period during which we monitored daily sleep characteristics using actigraphy as well as daily behavioral and environmental influences on sleep. Baseline participants with objectively verified poor sleep (n=60) were then recruited to participate in a behavior change protocol to directly test the impact of various behavior changes on sleep.

The interplay of sleep and energy homeostasis in adults enrolled in a weight management program

This project was supported by funds from the Sanford Health-NDSU Seed Grant Program (PI: Irish). This project collected a broad range of behavioral and psychosocial data from approximately 200 adults enrolled in a weight management program. Specifically, we aimed to evaluate the bidirectional influence between sleep and energy homeostasis (calorie expenditure and consumption) through a week of objective sleep and exercise monitoring and daily dietary recall. The study included a broad range of self-report assessments providing a rich dataset for the examination of interpersonal, psychological, behavioral, and health-related factors in the context of sleep and weight loss behaviors.


Additional projects and collaborations are always in the pipeline! In particular, future research will focus on the impact of sleep on disordered eating behaviors and obesity and the role of affect and executive function in mediating the relationship between sleep and health,  Please contact us for more information about what we’re up to.

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