A Guide To Sleep and Clinical Trials

What is Sleep?

Although everyone needs to sleep to maintain their health, the question “what is sleep?” has proven surprisingly difficult. During the state of sleep, the brain exhibits profound changes.

It is now believed the function of sleep is to clear metabolic waste products from the pathways of the brain. This helps explain why healthy sleep must be sufficient in both duration and depth.

A Guide to Sleep and Clinical Trials

What Conditions Are Associated With Sleep?

The most common health condition associated with sleep is insomnia. Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Sleep disturbances can be physiological in nature (for example, Restless Legs Syndrome) or psychological (for example, nightmares.)

Experts have estimated that about 25% of Americans develop some degree of insomnia in any given year. In 75% of cases, it passes without long-term damage to sleep habits.

Other common sleep disorders include:

  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea, “pauses” in breathing often caused by soft tissue blockage in the airway
  • Sleep hypoventilation, trouble breathing in sleep caused by respiratory muscle weakness
  • Restless Legs Syndrome, which causes discomfort only alleviated by moving the legs
  • Bruxism, the grinding of the teeth during sleep, which can damage the teeth and jaw

Sleep medicine experts also recognize several less common sleep disorders. These include things like narcolepsy, nightmares and night terrors, and Rapid Eye Movement Behavior Disorder.

Maintaining Sleep Health

Many chronic sleep conditions arise with no known cause. However, maintaining good sleep hygiene can help. Sleep hygiene refers to the whole collection of habits that affect sleep health.

In general, it is a good idea to develop a consistent bedtime and routine for “going to bed.” Discontinue the use of phones and other “screens” an hour before bed, since the blue light of these devices inhibits the brain’s natural response to reduced lighting at night.

Remember, many factors can contribute to sleep health issues:

  • Certain medications, such as those used for high blood pressure and asthma
  • Chronic pain disorders and other conditions that cause persistent discomfort
  • Stress in your personal or work life and conditions like anxiety or depression

Each individual has a slight variance in sleep need. Likewise, the duration of sleep needed does change depending on life stage. However, it is important to know everyone needs about eight hours of nightly sleep to maintain mental and physical health.

Medical Research on Sleep

With the answers to key questions on “why do we sleep?” coming into view, sleep researchers are continuing to pursue clinical sleep studies looking for new sleep disorder treatments.

Sleep clinical care has undergone revolutionary changes in recent years thanks to imaging technology that precisely pinpoints sleep-related changes in the human brain at any age.

Current Clinical Trials on Sleep

This list includes all clinical trials on sleep recognized by ClinicalTrials.gov. To add sleep clinical trials to our list, contact us.

Why Are More Clinical Trials on Sleep Necessary?

There may be no single “cure for insomnia”, but clinical trials on sleep help doctors develop effective sleep disorder treatment protocols for the various situations where sleep is disturbed.

Ongoing sleep research continues to redefine what we know about each of these conditions. Insomnia treatments are just one of the new sleep clinical resources coming from this effort.


The majority of American adults experience sleep disturbances at some point in life. With that in mind, clinical trials on sleep truly affect everyone. Unfortunately, sleep disorders are under-diagnosed – and those who suffer often do not pursue treatment. Participating in clinical studies on sleep is one way to help ensure you, and others, will rest better.