World Sleep 2023 Keynote Speakers

Keynote presentations will take place from Monday, October 23 through Wednesday, October 25, 2023. All content will be presented live and in person with select content available after the congress through World Sleep On Demand.

Learn more about our invited keynote speakers and the speaking schedule below. Find the complete scientific program and schedule online.

Monday, October 23

Raffaele Ferri, MD
Scientific Director, IRCCS Oasi Maria SS

Measuring and analyzing movements in sleep


This keynote lecture will focus on the continuously developing field of the quantitative measurement and analysis of movements during sleep. The last decades have been characterized by a significant effort towards the establishment of quantitative rules for the detection and scoring of different types of muscle activities during sleep including, but not exclusively, limb movements and periodic leg movements during sleep, REM sleep atonia, and the recently defined “large muscle group movements” characterizing Restless Sleep Disorder.

These more quantitative approaches based on measurable parameters allow an easier and more reliable automatic detection of movements during sleep, making this process faster and cost-effective, and offer the possibility to better classify and identify different subtypes of motor events, within each category, possibly pointing at different neurophysiopathological mechanisms, which also seem to be associated with different effects on sleep and other physiological functions.

Michael Chee, MBBS
Professor, Director
Centre for Sleep and Cognitiion
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
National University of Singapore

Consumer sleep tech and sleep transformation


Sleep is a multidimensional construct that significantly influences health, wellbeing, and performance. Sleep regularity and timing exhibit greater variance today than in previous generations largely because of technology-fueled changes in lifestyles. However, they are difficult to characterize at scale with traditional methods. Consumer health monitoring devices passively and continuously collect data about the nature, timing and variability of activities that influence personal sleep, mood, performance and vice versa. Alongside, the widespread adoption of health wearables by persons at different stations in life and across the globe, can significantly increase cross-cultural understanding about inter-individual differences in real-world sleep patterns. Integrating such knowledge with data on salient outcome markers, could democratize the formulation of sleep advice currently dominated by North American and Western European perspectives. Early adopters were drawn by tech gadgetry, new sensors, and features but increasingly, people are asking: ‘how does the data help?’. This opens doors for sleep experts to work with data scientists to craft analyses that result in actionable recommendations. In turn, these could improve health, wellbeing, and performance. The presentation will cover contemporary implementations of sleep tech, use-case illustrations, as well future possibilities.

Dalva Poyares, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Psychobiology
Federal University of São Paulo
Neurologist, Sleep Institute

Sleep and aging crosstalk in health and disease


This presentation will explore polysomnographic sleep patterns with aging and sleep disorders in the elderly. Insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea are prevalent sleep disorders among older adults and lead to consequences on health and well-being. Associated factors including body composition, sarcopenia and metabolic status will also be discussed.

Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Health
Director, Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program
Penn State Sleep Research & Treatment Center
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Penn State University College of Medicine
United States

Sleep in adolescence: Epidemiology and burden of insomnia, short sleep, and beyond


Adolescence is a period of maturational brain changes resulting in synaptic pruning and myelination. These developmental changes are reflected in the sleeping brain, as the circadian phase delays, spindle density increases and slow wave activity and sleep depth decline with puberty. Thus, adolescence is also a critical developmental stage for the chronicity and new-onset of sleep disorders. Compared to pediatric sleep apnea, childhood-onset insomnia symptoms are highly persistent through adolescence, a natural course determined by social and biobehavioral factors. In addition, adolescents who report insomnia symptoms and sleep objectively short have been shown to be at a greater risk of worsening into an insomnia disorder later in young adulthood. This keynote address will show how the sleeping brain and maturing circadian clock can be studied in epidemiological samples with developmental designs and help uncover the burden of specific sleep phenotypes, including insomnia, short sleep and beyond.

Jan Born, PhD
Director of the Department of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology
University of Tübingen

The memory function of sleep: Implications for aging and dementia


Whereas memories are optimally encoded and retrieved when the brain is awake, the consolidation and formation of long-term memory requires an offline mode of processing as optimally established only during sleep. Based on evidence from behavioral and neurobiological studies in humans and rodents, I will consider the formation of long-term memory during sleep as an “active systems consolidation” process in which  the repeated neuronal replay of representations originating from the hippocampus during slow-wave sleep (SWS) leads to a gradual transformation and integration of representations into extrahippocampal, mainly neocortical networks. I will highlight three features of this process: (i) Hippocampal replay that, by capturing episodic memory aspects, drives consolidation of both hippocampus-dependent and non-hippocampus-dependent memory; (ii) brain oscillations hallmarking SWS and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, respectively, which provide mechanisms to regulate both information flow across distant brain networks and local synaptic plasticity; and (iii) qualitative transformations of memories during sleep-dependent systems consolidation resulting in abstract schema-like knowledge representations. Finally, based on the concept of active systems consolidation during sleep, I will describe how specific alterations of sleep contribute to memory impairments in healthy aging and in patients with Alzheimer dementia.

Stanley Liu, MD, DDS
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (on leave)
Stanford University School of Medicine
United States

Sleep surgery as restoring missed milestones in airway growth and development


The etiology of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is complex, and selecting effective surgical treatment continues to be challenging. Contemporary imaging and endoscopic modalities combined with polysomnogram interpretation have improved treatment outcome. However, it remains that decisions for surgery tend to be based on identifying anatomic OSA risk factors OSA based on a snapshot in time.
If the diagnostic thinking shifts from seeing the anatomic risk factors as they are, to how they have become the way they are, the potential for positive impact of surgery greatly expands. Through the presentation of a contemporary algorithm founded on a continuum of care with sleep medicine, the latest of precision surgery will be highlighted. And, in applying a developmental mindset to surgical decision-making to restore missed developmental milestones, we can achieve more with less surgery.

Tuesday, October 24

Claudia Trenkwalder, MD
Department of Neurosurgery
University Medical Center Göttingen

REM sleep behavior disorder


Idiopathic or isolated REM sleep behavior disorder (iRBD) is defined by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD-3, Sleep 2014). REM episodes are clinically characterized by vocalizations, jerky movements, even bed falls or violations of the patient. Bedpartners report the syndrome, as patients may not be aware of it. As questionnaires are not sufficiently valid for diagnosis, video-synchronized PSG is currently still the gold standard for diagnosis and includes a pathologically increased muscle tone of the chin (REM without atonia, RWA) (Frauscher et al Sleep 2012) during the REM episodes. Currently, iRBD is the most specific prodromal feature of α-synuclein pathology, which may manifest even a decade before motor symptoms of Parkinson disease, multiple system atrophy or dementia with Lewy Bodies occur. Recent data report an overall conversion rate from iRBD to an overt neurodegenerative syndrome of 6.3% per year, with 73.5% converting after 12-year follow-up (Postuma et al 2020).

The prevalence of RBD in de novo PD patients is about 25% (Mollenhauer et al 2013), with an increase up to 52% in the same cohort after 6 years (Zimansky et al 2021). RBD is now established as a diagnostic marker for DLB and occurs up to 80% in patients with MSA. The early diagnosis of RBD combined with other non-motor features such as hyposmia, constipation, depression and cognitive decline characterizes the prodromal phase of a neurodegenerative syndrome, most likely an alpha-synucleinopathy with increasing research on imaging, CSF and tissue biomarkers. Unfortunately none of these non-motor parameters and RBD can be shown in each single PD patient. There are still cases who do not convert within years into a neurodegenerative disease, and ethical considerations should be taken in centers who diagnose patients with iRBD.

The early diagnosis of iRBD, however, provides an unprecedented opportunity to directly observe prodromal neurodegenerative states, for early intervention with neuroprotective therapy, if available in the future.

Fan Jiang, MD, PhD
Sleep Center, National Children’s Medical Center
Shanghai Children’s Medical Center
Shanghai Center for Brain Science and Brain-Inspired Technology
Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine

Sleep and the developing brain


Early childhood marks an important period when normative transition of sleep-wake pattern occurs, characterized by decreasing daytime sleep and nighttime sleep consolidation. Meanwhile, baby’s newly developing brain is highly plastic and responsive to change of environment and experience. Cutting-edge studies have revealed the critical role of sleep in cognitive, language and socio-emotional development in early childhood. In addition to neuropsychological assessment, the rapid development of noninvasive brain function measure techniques permits careful exploration the association between sleep and early brain development. The keynote will elucidate the relevant evidence and innovative research projects on sleep and developing brain, and prioritize promoting sleep health as a scaling-up strategy to drive optimum early childhood development.

Michael Irwin, MD
Professor-in-Residence, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles
United States

Insomnia, inflammation, and depression prevention


Dr. Irwin will examine the role of insomnia on inflammation, affective mechanisms of emotion perception and reward sensitivity, and depression risk. He will evaluate the role of sleep and its homeostatic regulation of the immune system, with a focus on effects of sleep loss to activate systemic, cellular, transcriptional markers of inflammation. Further, he will examine how sleep disturbance and inflammation interact and act in concert to impair emotion perception and sensitivity to reward, which mechanistically contribute to depression. Using randomized experimental models of inflammatory challenge, he will identify the role that inflammation has in causally inducing depressed mood and anhedonia, and the ability of insomnia and inflammation to act together as “two hits” to magnify deficits affective and reward mechanisms which exaggerate increases in depressed mood. Moreover, in randomized clinical trials, he will identify the efficiency of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) and mindfulness interventions to treat insomnia disorder, reverse markers of inflammation, and reduce depression. Finally, he will describe the ability of insomnia treatment to prevent depression. In an innovative selective prevention trial, he will examine the efficacy of CBT-I to prevent incident and recurrent major depressive disorder in a 3 year follow-up of non-depressed older adults with insomnia, and the potential for inflammatory mechanisms to moderate the benefit of this targeted prevention strategy to reduce the public health burden of depression, even in vulnerable populations who are difficult to reach due to stigma of depression.

Federica Provini, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Science
University of Bologna

Jerky movements in sleep: Unusual variants or a new movement disorder?


Some sleep-related movements are well known and well classified, but new motor manifestations appearing only or preferentially during sleep are not thoroughly characterized yet. This lecture will focus on jerky movements during sleep, including intensified hypnic jerks, propriospinal myoclonus, nocturnal facio-mandibular myoclonus, neck myoclonus and excessive fragmentary myoclonus.  Clinical relevance and polygraphic features will be discussed proving clear cut-offs to discern between unusual isolated phenomenon and true diseases. 

Silke Ryan, MD, PhD
Clinical Professor
School of Medicine, University College Dublin
Consultant in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine
St. Vincent’s University Hospital

Novel insights of the role of sleep disordered breathing on cardiovascular and metabolic function


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) represents a global public health burden conveying a significant risk for the development and control of numerous cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the treatment of choice for the majority of patients but its benefit on cardiometabolic diseases is limited. Thus, a greater understanding of the mechanisms by which OSA leads to such comorbidities might identify novel therapeutic approaches. The pathophysiology of cardiometabolic complications remains incompletely understood. Intermittent hypoxia (IH), a hallmark feature of OSA, plays likely a key role and experimental studies using animal and cell culture studies suggest that IH mediates adverse disease processes through activation of multiple mechanistic pathways such as sympathetic excitation, inflammation and oxidative stress. This presentation will summarize our current state of knowledge in this field and highlight potential therapeutic avenues.

Wednesday, October 25

Kenneth Wright, PhD
Professor of Distinction, Department of Integrative Physiology
University of Colorado Boulder
United States

Microbiome and sleep

Summary forthcoming

Chandra Jackson, PhD
Stadtman Investigator
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institutes of Health
United States

Climate change and sleep health: A call to action to address impending exacerbation of inequities


Grounded in the socioecological model of health, this keynote address will describe how innovative research approaches such as the integration of data across the translational science spectrum can advance investigations related to climate change and sleep health inequities. Illustrative examples and a call to action for developed and developing countries will be offered.

Laura Lewis, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Center for Systems Neuroscience
Boston University
United States

Fast imaging of neural, hemodynamic, and cerebrospinal fluid dynamics in the sleeping brain


When we fall asleep, most aspects of brain function and physiology are rapidly transformed. Understanding the neural basis of sleep requires imaging methods that can capture multiple aspects of brain physiology at fast timescales. We used new methods for fast imaging in the human brain to investigate the neural origins and consequences of sleep. We found that accelerated methods for fMRI can enable imaging subsecond neural dynamics throughout the human brain. We applied these methods to investigate the neural dynamics that occur at state transitions, and identified temporal sequences within thalamocortical networks that precede the moment of awakening from sleep. In addition, we developed a method to image cerebrospinal fluid flow, and discovered large waves of fluid flow that appear in the sleeping human brain. Together, these studies highlight the new biological information that can be extracted from fast fMRI data, and use this approach to discover neurophysiological dynamics unique to the sleeping brain.