Sleep & Health is led by Professor Tiina Paunio, University of Helsinki and National Institute for Health and Welfare.

It comprises postdoctoral, doctoral and graduate students. We collaborate actively with researchers from other universities and research institutes from Finland and other countries, including Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Universities of Oulu and Turku, Karolinska Institutet, University of Tartu, University of Cambridge, Broad Institute, and Northwestern University.

Tiina Paunio

Tiina Paunio, MD (1993), PhD (1995), Specialist in Psychiatry (2007), Professor of Psychiatry (UH) (lt 2010-, permanent 2014-) and Research Professor (THL) (2014-)

Professor Paunio has a special interest in genetic background for psychiatric disorders and sleep-related disturbances, interaction of the genetic risk with environment, and development of individualized research-based tools to ameliorate sleep- and stress-related disturbances.  

She is Vice Dean of Education at Faculty of Medicine, UH; Vice President (Clinical) and Chair of the Education Committee and Somnologist examination of European Sleep Research Society, and Deputy Editor for Journal of Sleep Research. She also chairs the steering committee for psychotherapy education, UH. She is responsible for postgraduate studies on Psychiatry, UH.

Katri Kantojärvi

Katri Kantojärvi, PhD 2013

Katri Kantojärvi is a postdoctoral researcher with a focus on genetic background of sleep and psychiatric traits. She is studying how genes influence in cognitive, social and emotional development and sleep. In her thesis she explored genetics of autism spectrum disorders and she continues that topic with studying how genetic risk for autism spectrum disorders influences in sleep and socioemotional behavior in early childhood.

Johanna Liuhanen

Johanna Liuhanen, MA (Psychology) 2005, BSc (Molecular Biosciences) 2020, Integrative Life Science Doctoral Program, UH

Johanna Liuhanen studies the phenotypic effects that genetic risk factors to psychiatric disorders have on healthy children and adults. The main focus of the research is on early development and sleep.

Johanna Pietikäinen

Johanna Pietikäinen, MD 2010, the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Research

The focus of Johanna Pietikäinen's study is to examine the prevalence of insomnia, depression and anxiety symptoms concerning mothers and fathers during pregnancy and after birth and to examine the effect of these symptoms to a child´s social and emotional wellbeing in large Finnish CHILD-SLEEP and FINNBRAIN birth cohorts. Also, the contribution of perceived stress, family atmosphere and adverse life events to depressive symptoms and child’s development is examined. Insomnia, depressive and anxiety symptoms are examined by repeating questionnaires throughout pregnancy and child’s first two years, furthermore child’s sosioemotional development in CHILD-SLEEP cohort is evaluated by questionnaire at the age of 24 months.

Nils Sandman

Nils Sandman, M.Sc. (Cognitive Science)

The research interests of Nils Sandman include sleep and dreaming, evolutionary perspectives on human behavior and philosophy of science and consciousness.


Sanna Selinheimo

Sanna Selinheimo, PhD (psych.) 2021, specialization in occupational health, 2016 and specialising in health psychology.

The research of Sanna Selinheimo is focused on persistent physical symptoms' mechanisms and psychotherapy research. Her research uses an interdisciplinary approach and combines and integrates the epidemiological and clinical randomized control trial data.


Sonja Sulkava

Sonja Sulkava, PhD, MD specialising in clinical genetics.

The current research of Sonja Sulkava is focused on risk factors of dementia and Parkinson's disease using longitudinal analyses in large Finnish data sets. Her special interest is the connection of sleep and stress-related traits with the neurogenerative diseases. Also the genetic aspects are considered in her research.

In her thesis she studied genetic background for sensitivity to job-related stress and its connection to Alzheimer's disease.

Antti-Jussi Ämmälä

Antti-Jussi Ämmälä, MD 2002,PhD 2022

Focus of research of Antti-Jussi Ämmälä, MD (UEF 2002),PhD(UH 2022) is to study the effect of subjective and objective sleep difficulties and sleep deprivation on DNA methylation and telomere lengths in various contexts such as experimental settings, clinical samples and in population. His thesis involved both case control samples and population cohorts of pregnant women, newborns, adolescent and adults. In thesis, he studied the effect of stress and sleep problems into newborn telomere length as well as the effect of early life adverse life experience into telomere length in adulthood. In adolescents, the effect of sleep and depression to DNA methylation was studied. He is continuing these themes in subsequent work.

Tuula Tanskanen

Tuula Tanskanen, PhD student, RN, MHC (Nurse Practitioner, Sleep Medicine)

Sleep and circadian rhythm disruption is common in schizophrenia. Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is an evidence-based treatment for insomnia. There is evidence that CBT-I can also be used to treat a patient with a major psychiatric disorders, but RCT studies have little published. The focus of Tuula Tanskanen's RCT study is to determine can CBT-I improve sleep, quality of life and well-being in patients in schizophrenia.


Katinka Tuisku

Katinka Tuisku, MD, PhD, Docent in Psychiatry, Special Competence in Sleep medicine

Sleep medicine crosses many specialties of Medicine. The role of psychiatry in Sleep medicine is central, because it covers psychological, behavioral, functional, epigenetic, psychiatric and psychopharmacological mechanisms related to sleep, wake, alertness and circadian rhythm.  The psychological mechanisms are intertwined with physiological processes not just in so called “non-organic” sleep disorders, but also in sleep disorders classified as “organic”, forming the basis for health behavior and coping with illness and stressors.

A new outpatient clinic for Sleep disorders has been launched 2019 in Helsinki University Hospital, department of Psychiatry (HUS). Nationwide clinical consultations, differential diagnostics and targeted interventions for complex sleep disorders are the main tasks of the Outpatient clinic for Sleep disorders, besides education, developing clinical practices and participating scientific studies.

Paavo Laitinen

Paavo Laitinen, M.Sc. (Exercise Physiology) 2019, JYU

Paavo Laitinen is a neuroscience master’s student with a research interest in how sleep, physical activity and stress affect each other. The main focus is to study the relationship between the quality of sleep and exercise.

Aino Isotalo

Aino Isotalo, MD 2016, Doctoral programme in Clinical Research 

Aino Isotalo is studying the correlation of genome-wide significant risk SNPs and polygenic risk scores with mood disorders and their clinical course in a prospective five-year follow-up of three Finnish clinical cohorts. The long term follow-up data contains detailed and comprehensive phenotype and clinical course variables, such as the quantity of mood episodes and the presence of psychotic symptoms and suicidal ideation. The primary hypothesis is that the risk SNPs and polygenic risk scores will be correlated with bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder and will predict a more recurrent, symptomatic and co-morbid clinical course.

Mikko Heimola

Mikko Heimola, PhD, special psychologist in neuropsychology

Mikko Heimola’s current research focuses on the relationship between sleep, circadian rhythm, and the ability to function.