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.

Alexandra Lahtinen

Alexandra Lahtinen, M.Sc 2003, Transmed program, UH 2015-2017, Doctoral Programme in Integrative Life Science (ILS)

Alexandra Lahtinen is studying DNA methylation changes associated with insufficient sleep and shift-work disorder. The ultimate goal of her study is to identify biomarkers for risk assessment and early prevention of the long-term risks for insufficient sleep.

Kaisu Paulanto

Kaisu Paulanto, Neuropsychologist, Psych.Lic.

Resilience has emerged as a psychological concept that is related to, for example, depression and healthy lifestyles. The relationship between work ability, cognition, personality disorders and resilience is less explored. The aim of Kaisu Paulanto's study is to evaluate the relationship between the short version of the Resilience Scale (RS-14), cognitive performance and work ability in psychiatric patients. The research data has been collected as part of the clinical psychiatric assessment in the HYKS psychiatry.

Johanna Liuhanen

Johanna Liuhanen, MA (Psychology) 2005, Integrative Life Science Doctoral Program, UH

The main focus of the research by Johanna Liuhanen is to study the genetic background of psychosis in the genetically isolated population of Finns. She is especially interested in studying the interaction between cumulative genetic risk and environmental risk factors during early development on psychotic disorders and their endophenotypes.

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, MA (psychology) 2011, specialization in occupational health, 2016

The research of Sanna Selinheimo is focused on self-perceived, but medically unexplained symptoms' mechanisms. Her research uses an interdisciplinary approach that combines and integrates the epidemiological follow-up data together with data from clinical randomized control trial .


Sonja Sulkava

Sonja Sulkava, D.Med.Sc. specialising in medical genetics

The research of Sonja Sulkava is focused on genetic background for sensitivity to job-related stress and Alzheimer's disease.

Riikka Vierimaa

Riikka Vierimaa, MD 2005, Doctoral programme of clinical research (UH)

Good sleep is important to human health. Different internal and external factors can interfere with sleep. If sleeping problems prolonge they start to disturb daily performance and functioning. Many neuropsychological processes that are important for the functioning of the brain occur during sleep. Disturbances in quality, duration and structure of sleep are associated with most psychiatric disorders and are an independent risk factor for depression. Systematic evaluation of sleep by structured symptom questionnaire and objective measurements should be part of clinical work in psychiatric outpatient clinics.

One of the main purpose of this study is to provide subjective and objective sleep assessment tools that are easy to use in clinical and military medicine. This can help the assessment of the conscripts fitness for service and can also affect the safety of the military service. Early detection of sleep disturbances and self-care instructions may prevent impaired functional ability, need for medical treatment and reduce the development of psychiatric symptoms. This research provides the basis for a approach that takes into account the quantitative and qualitative features of sleep as a risk factor for mental disorders as well as predictors of work and functional ability.

Antti-Jussi Ämmälä

Antti-Jussi Ämmälä, MD 2002, Integrated Life Sciences Doctoral Program, UH

Focus of research of Antti-Jussi Ämmälä, MD (UEF 2002) is to study the effect of subjective and objective sleep difficulties on DNA methylation in adolescents. Additionally, following Barker´s hypothesis, he studies how prenatal conditions effect on intrauterine development of a child. He is keen to explore the effect of prenatal maternal stress, weight, sleep quality and attachment style on telomere length and methylation of a newborn. In this context he also uses gene- environment interaction analysis to find out how these factors contribute to later development of child.

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.