Sleep and Circadian Medicine

The close reciprocal relationship between sleep and mental disorders is clearly recognised today. Our findings, which have implications for early intervention, have suggested that puberty is the critical period for the development of insomnia symptoms and emergence of sex differences. In addition, our group has identified that sleep loss and deprivation are very common in Hong Kong children and adolescents, and are closely related to an array of mental and physical health conditions. These findings have subsequently been translated into a sleep education programme and delayed school starttime intervention. The team is active in investigating the circadian disruptions underlying sleep disorders, mood disorders and neurodegeneration, and testing the efficacy of chronotherapeutics as a treatment modality. We have demonstrated that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) is highly predictive of future synucleinopathy neurodegeneration, the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. Our current projects in sleep and neurodegeneration include a longitudinal cohort study of typical RBD with in-depth measures of clinical, biochemical and sleep biomarkers, along with a family cohort and microbiota study. In addition, the close relationship among depression, RBD and neurodegeneration has been investigated by our team at which 1 in 9 subjects with depression at the psychiatric clinic have harboured RBD features with predisposition to synucleinopathy neurodegeneration, including their family members. Our long-term goal is to facilitate the search for biomarkers that predict the onset of neurodegeneration and to develop strategies for its prevention.

We have also established the Li Chiu Kong Family Sleep Assessment Unit (LCKF-SAU) at Shatin Hospital, which provides both clinical service for local patients with sleep disorders and professional training to clinicians and technicians in sleep medicine from all over the world. The LCKF-SAU is actively involved in epidemiological, translational and clinical studies in sleep disorders, as well as circadian rhythm disorders in various medical and mental disorders.