In May 2012, Dr Jason Ellis at Northumbria University was awarded £11,550* for his study, A case controlled study exploring the qualitative experience of sleep, the roles of sleep architecture and diurnal patterns of salivary cortisol in M.E./CFS.
The overall aim of this 18-month study is to explore the relationship between daytime fatigue and poor sleep in M.E./CFS. In the first stage, the team will interview people with M.E./CFS to explore their experiences of sleep and identify any common patterns or disturbances.
The second stage will involve monitoring sleep for three nights using wireless sleep equipment in patients’ own homes. Levels of the stress hormone salivary cortisol will also be assessed upon waking and at points throughout the day. This will be the first study of its kind to explore in detail the role of sleep in M.E./CFS.
This will not only help to establish a gold standard for how this assessment should be done, but also increase our knowledge of the role of sleep and help design a larger study, which has the potential to lead to new and improved treatments for M.E./CFS.
*This funding was part of a £61,000 investment in research, announced during M.E. Awareness Week. The charity’s initial October 2011 call for proposals had stated that, thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous private donor, a research fund of £50,000 would be available. However, following independent scientific review, Action for M.E. decided to fund three projects at a total cost of more than £61,000, drawing on funds provided by our Supporting Membership for research purposes.