Torbjörn Åkerstedt's research group

Sleep and fatigue

One focus for my research is the meaning of sleep quality and disturbed sleep, as well as the link between the two and performance, health and mortality. The  influence of age, gender and stress are also important questions.

Another focus is the effedts of shift work (irregular workhours) on health, performance and mortality.

Research projects

  1. The importance of self-reported sleep duration and sleep quality for survival and diseases like dementia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes II, cancer, and others. Also, the influence of age, retirement, occupation, gender and other factors is investigated. Closely related is also identifying optimal sleep duration (with respect to mortality) and which factors influences the association. Is mortality increased with both short and long sleep? Which role has weekend compensatory sleep for mortality? Are women more sensitive to short sleep in terms of mortality? Är äldre mindre sårbara?
  2. The physiological criteria of good sleep (or bad). Here we measure polysomnography (PSG), that is, registration of EEG, EOG (eye movements), and EMG to determine the basoc characteristics of sleep (sleep stages, sleep efficiency, awakenings, sleep latency, sleep duration, etc). The main questions concern which PSG variables that can be linked to reported poor sleep (or good), differences between men and women, differences between age groups, patients under CBT treatment for insomnia. Some of the results are quite unexpected.
  3. Fatigue and sleepiness. Research questions concern: How dangerous is sleepiness on the road? How does fatigue and sleepiness change with age? How fatigue inducing are aircrew schedules? Can one predict sleepiness from knowledge of work schedules? Which factors drive fatigue/sleepiness (sleep, stress, physical work, mental work, long work hours, disease)? What does the sleepy or fatigued brain look like, which structures change their activity?. Which schedule characteristics of shift work constitute the major problems from the view of the worker? How does night work influence mortality? Does occupation influence such a putative link?


Many projects are carried out in collaboration with others, for example University of Uppsala (Prof Eva Lindberg), Stockholm Universitet (Dr Johanna Schwarz, Prof Hui-Xin Wang, Prof Göran Kecklund), Karolinska institutet (Prof Viktor Kaldo, Doc Susanna Jernelöw, Dr Anna-Karin Hedström, Doc Ylva Trolle-Lageros), Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (Prof Mikael Sallinen), University of Milan/Bicocca Italy (Prof Rino Bellocco), Siesta Inc Vienna Austria (Dr Georg Gruber), the Dutch Institute for Aviation Research – NLR- Amsterdam the Netherlands (Dr Henk van Dijk), German Institute for Aviation and Space Research – DLR – Köln Germany (Dr Daniel Aeschbach)


Selected publications

Akerstedt T, Lekander M, Nilsonne G, et al. Gray Matter Volume Correlates of Sleepiness: A Voxel-Based Morphometry Study in Younger and Older Adults. Nat Sci Sleep. 2020;12:289-298.

Akerstedt T, Mittendorfer-Rutz E, Rahman S. Sleep disturbance and work-related mental strain: A national prospective cohort study of the prediction of subsequent long-term sickness absence, disability pension and mortality. Scand J Public Health. 2020:1403494820911813.

Akerstedt T, Narusyte J, Svedberg P. Night work, mortality, and the link to occupational group and sex. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2020.

Garefelt J, Platts LG, Hyde M, Magnusson Hanson LL, Westerlund H, Akerstedt T. Reciprocal relations between work stress and insomnia symptoms: A prospective study. J Sleep Res. 2020;29(2):e12949.

Ghilotti F, Bellocco R, Trolle Lagerros Y, et al. Relationship between sleep characteristics and markers of inflammation in Swedish women from the general population. J Sleep Res. 2020:e13093.

Hedstrom AK, Hossjer O, Trolle Lagerros Y, Akerstedt T. Short- and long-term mortality following hypnotic use. J Sleep Res. 2020:e13061.

Lasselin J, Karshikoff B, Axelsson J, et al. Fatigue and sleepiness responses to experimental inflammation and exploratory analysis of the effect of baseline inflammation in healthy humans. Brain Behav Immun. 2020;83:309-314.

Sallinen M, Pylkkonen M, Puttonen S, Sihvola M, Akerstedt T. Are long-haul truck drivers unusually alert? A comparison with long-haul airline pilots. Accid Anal Prev. 2020;137:105442.

Sevilla-Cermeno L, Isomura K, Larsson H, et al. Insomnia in obsessive-compulsive disorder: A Swedish population-based cohort study. J Affect Disord. 2020;266:413-416.

Tettamanti G, Auvinen A, Akerstedt T, et al. Long-term effect of mobile phone use on sleep quality: Results from the cohort study of mobile phone use and health (COSMOS). Environ Int. 2020:105687.

Ahlstrom C, Solis-Marcos I, Nilsson E, Akerstedt T. The impact of driver sleepiness on fixation-related brain potentials. J Sleep Res. 2019:e12962.

Akerstedt T. Shift Work - Sleepiness and Sleep in Transport. Sleep Med Clin. 2019;14(4):413-421.

Akerstedt T, Discacciati A, Habel H, Westerlund H. Psychosocial work demands and physical workload decrease with ageing in blue-collar and white-collar workers: a prospective study based on the SLOSH cohort. BMJ Open. 2019;9(9):e030918.

Akerstedt T, Ghilotti F, Grotta A, et al. Sleep duration and mortality - Does weekend sleep matter? J Sleep Res. 2019;28(1):e12712.

Akerstedt T, Schwarz J, Gruber G, Theorell-Haglow J, Lindberg E. Short sleep-poor sleep? A polysomnographic study in a large population-based sample of women. J Sleep Res. 2019;28(4):e12812.

Andreasson A, Karshikoff B, Lidberg L, et al. The effect of a transient immune activation on subjective health perception in two placebo controlled randomised experiments. PLoS One. 2019;14(3):e0212313.

Andreasson A, Schiller H, Akerstedt T, Berntson E, Kecklund G, Lekander M. Brief report: Contemplate your symptoms and re-evaluate your health. A study on working adults. J Health Psychol. 2019;24(11):1562-1567.

Gerhardsson A, Akerstedt T, Axelsson J, Fischer H, Lekander M, Schwarz J. Effect of sleep deprivation on emotional working memory. J Sleep Res. 2019;28(1):e12744.

Gerhardsson A, Fischer H, Lekander M, et al. Positivity Effect and Working Memory Performance Remains Intact in Older Adults After Sleep Deprivation. Front Psychol. 2019;10:605.

Hedstrom AK, Bellocco R, Ye W, Trolle Lagerros Y, Akerstedt T. Association Between Insomnia And Mortality Is Only Evident Among Long Sleepers. Nat Sci Sleep. 2019;11:333-342.

Lindsater E, Axelsson E, Salomonsson S, et al. Cost-Effectiveness of Therapist-Guided Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Stress-Related Disorders: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Med Internet Res. 2019;21(9):e14675.

Lowden A, Nagai R, Akerstedt T, Hansson Mild K, Hillert L. Effects of evening exposure to electromagnetic fields emitted by 3G mobile phones on health and night sleep EEG architecture. J Sleep Res. 2019;28(4):e12813.

Qvist N, Bergstrom I, Akerstedt T, Persson J, Konradsen H, Forss A. From being restrained to recapturing vitality: non-western immigrant women's experiences of undergoing vitamin D treatment after childbirth. Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2019;14(1):1632111.

Schwarz J, Axelsson J, Gerhardsson A, et al. Mood impairment is stronger in young than in older adults after sleep deprivation. J Sleep Res. 2019;28(4):e12801.

Tamm S, Nilsonne G, Schwarz J, et al. Sleep restriction caused impaired emotional regulation without detectable brain activation changes-a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. R Soc Open Sci. 2019;6(3):181704.

Group members

Johanna Schwarz

Affiliated to research

Göran Kecklund

Affiliated to research

Paolo d'Onofrio

Xiao Tan


Hui Xin Wang

Affiliated to research