John Axelsson's research group

In the rapid development of the modern 24-hour society we increase our demands for continuous services of information, health care, safety, transportation and industry production. Shift workers, parents with young children that also work fulltime, gaming adolescents and evening personalities are examples of individuals where a good 8-hour night sleep is often only a dream.

Sleep, cognition and health

John Axelssons groups research aim to increase the knowledge and awareness of how sleep in the modern life affects our biology, cognition and health. A main focus is to investigate how disturbed sleep affects us both acutely and chronically with respect to immune function, metabolism, subjective health and the risk for developing metabolic disorders. Another research area includes how disturbed sleep affects cognitive processes and how we interact with our peers. One of the groups PhD-students, Bianka, is heading projects of how the immune system affects brain activity, subjective health and pain regulation.

John Axelssons groups research is strongly interdisciplinary which is also reflected by our methodology, with methods ranging from the photographing of sleep deprived individuals to injections with (dead) bacteria to investigate brain activity with brain imaging techniques when someone is acutely sick. John Axelssons group aims to answer questions such as: How does the brain work when we get sick? Can more sleep speed up recovery when we are sick? Does beauty sleep exist? The group think it is important to translate fundamental insights into applications to improve sleep, daytime functioning and health. The group has a portfolio of projects well suited for students within the medical and behavioural sciences.

Present research questions

  • How does insufficient sleep affect cognitive functioning and social interactions?
  • How does cognitive functions return to normal in the awakening brain?
  • How does sleep affect the susceptibility and recovery from acute infections?
  • How does disease avoidance work, and what are the mechanisms?


Selected publications

Sleepiness as motivation: a potential mechanism for how sleep deprivation affects behavior.

Axelsson J, Ingre M, Kecklund G, et al.

Sleep. 2020 Jun 15;43(6):zsz291

Sleep during naturally occurring respiratory infections: A pilot study.

Lasselin J, Ingre M, Regenbogen C, et al.

Brain Behav Immun. 2019 Jul;79:236-243. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2019.02.006

Identification of acutely sick people and facial cues of sickness.

Axelsson J, Sundelin T, Olsson MJ, et al.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 2018 Jan 10;285(1870):20172430

Circadian Entrainment to the Natural Light-Dark Cycle Across Seasons and the Weekend

Stothard ER, McHill AW, Depner CM, et al,

Current Biology. 2017 Feb 20;27(4):508-513

Health consequences of shift work and insufficient sleep.
Kecklund G, Axelsson J
BMJ 2016 Nov;355():i5210

Beauty sleep: experimental study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people.
Axelsson J, Sundelin T, Ingre M, Van Someren E, Olsson A, Lekander M
BMJ 2010 Dec;341():c6614

Group members

Content reviewer: