Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Dr Kirstie Anderson

Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer


I work within one of the largest and most research active sleep clinics in the UK. Sleep is of the brain, by the brain and for the brain and when we sleep badly for any reason, it has an immediate impact upon our ability to learn and regulate our mood.


I study the pattern of sleep disturbance in those with mental health problems and in particular bipolar disorder. and acute in-patients in psychiatry wards. We know that many patients have severe sleep and circadian rhythm disturbance even when mood is stable and sleep disorders can trigger or exacerbate mood relapse. The ASCRIBE study has been the UKs largest study of sleep and cognition in patients with Bipolar disorder and hoped us to understand what part poor sleep plays in cognitive disturbance in those with the condition. I am also working with Dr Stuart Watson to look at the sleep patterns of in-patients within the psychiatry wards in Newcastle to try and measure and then improve sleep disturbance.The SleepWell project is working to protect sleep in the some of the most vulnerable patients in the NHS.


Poor sleep is recognised as a risk factor for cognitive impairment in both those with who are normally ageing and also those with neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson's disease or Alzheimers disease. Those who have objectively short sleep were shown to have increased mortality and morbidity when we studied the 85 cohort, ongoing longitudinal assessments of sleep patterns in the ICICLE cohort (PI Professor D Burn) are providing valuable insights into patterns of sleep that predict cognitive decline. Working with Professor Nicola Pavese, we are studying functional imaging to try and predict which patients with REM sleep behaviour disorder are most at risk of future parkinson's disease.


At present the gold standard for measuring sleep is with an in-patients sleep study (video polysomnography) which is time consuming and relatively invasive for patients who have to come into hospital. Advances in signal processing have led to increasingly sophisticated accelerometer devices that cn more reliably pick up patterns of movement during the day and night that characterise both good and bad sleep. We have validated a novel accelerometer against the gold standard of polysomnography and shown high sensitivity for sleep period detection, importantly the same device can be used as a physical activity monitor. Future work will study sleepwalkers, if we can accurately detect sleepwalking episodes using simple home monitoring devices then we can avoid in-patient studies and record people over days and weeks to both detect symptoms and also measure the benefit of therapies. This work is done in collaboration with Professor Mike Trenell in the MOVElab.

We are studying the sleep wake patterns of the Biobank cohort to understand the role of lifestyle factors in poor sleep and cardiometabolic health, 8 hours may be a mythical norm but short and  long sleep predict worse cognition and waist lines.



Stage 3 MBBS students within the SSC modules, long term conditions and FoCP teaching


PhD Educational supervisor

Educational supervisor for core medical trainees within Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals