Request for Information (RFI): Sleep Disorders Research Plan

Notice Number: NOT-HL-11-107

Key Dates
Release Date: June 9, 2010
Response Date: July 2, 2010

Issued by
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) (
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (
National Institute on Aging (NIA) (
National Cancer Institute (
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) (
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) (
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) (
National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) (
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) (
Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) (
Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) (


The NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (42 USC Sec. 285b-7) calls for the development of a comprehensive plan that identifies priorities with respect to sleep disorders research provides for the coordination of this research, and the revision of the plan as appropriate.  The last plan published in 2003 ( is now undergoing revision. 


Planning Process Overview

Comments submitted in response to this RFI will inform the National Centers on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) and participating NIH Institutes and Centers on the public perspective and need for biomedical sleep disorders research.  A summary of public comments and a preliminary NIH planning document will be presented for discussion at the next meeting of the Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board (SDRAB) on August 27, 2010, NIH, Bethesda, MD, and disseminated for public comment on the NCSDR website (  The plan will be finalized at a second public SDRAB meeting approximately 10 months later.  NCSDR coordinates the revision process with a Trans-NIH Sleep Research Coordinating Committee.

The strategic planning process aims to achieve the following objectives:


Sleep disorders research, for the purposes of this Request for Information, is defined as the basic science of sleep and circadian biology as it applies to all tissues and organs; the function(s) of sleep and circadian biology in development, across all levels of biological organization and across the lifespan;  the basic behavioral and pathophysiological implications of sleep loss and untreated sleep disorders; societal and social science relationships between sleep and health including socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and gender disparities; safety and performance; the role of sleep in psychiatric, alcohol, and substance abuse disorders; sleep in chronic disease conditions; the need for training researchers and health care providers; and the need for training researchers and health care providers; and the need to educate patients, communities, and the general public about sleep and sleep disorders. 

Information Requested

Members of the health and scientific community at large, state and local government officials, patient advocates, public interest organizations, community-based organizations, industry stakeholders, and the general public are invited to respond to any or all of the items listed below.  Comments linking sleep disorder research to public health challenges and the mission of individual NIH Institutes and Centers participating in this RFI are also welcomed. 

  1. Research Challenges — describe key gaps and barriers in the science of sleep and circadian biology.  Gaps and related research opportunities can be at any level of scientific inquiry including knowledge acquisition (basic, discovery, and applied research), knowledge validation (clinical trials and comparative effective research), and knowledge transfer (education and dissemination research), new technology development.  If possible, please elaborate on the specific scientific opportunity, clinical and public health importance, technical feasibility and suitability for NIH investment.  
  2. Potential Solutions — describe what you believe to be the most innovative research approaches to address key research challenges and stimulate sleep and circadian biomedical research.
  3. Trans-disciplinary Research — recent advances in sleep and circadian research can potentially inform other scientific endeavors and policies intended to achieve national health goals and priorities.  Describe scientific advances and opportunities that could be accomplished if the transfer of sleep and circadian knowledge to other domains could be optimized.  Describe how key translational opportunities would be facilitated by trans-disciplinary collaborations among basic scientists, behavioral and social scientists, epidemiologists, clinicians, public heal programs and community groups.

We would also appreciate insights in the following areas:

What are key unresolved scientific issues that must be addressed in order to translate advances in understanding the molecular and physiological basis of sleep and circadian biology research into a better understanding of clinical mechanism of disease risk, and improved approaches for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease?

What research is needed to inform state and local governments, health care institutions, public interest organizations, communities, and other stakeholders about the needs of children and adults for appropriate amounts of sleep and to address public health concerns?

What research questions are of highest priority in relation to improving sleep health in special populations?  These might include minorities, the elderly, children, pregnant women, and individual of low socioeconomic status.

What national or local organizations should be included in the discussion of future sleep and circadian research activities supported by the NIH?  

What issues in sleep and circadian biology research may be integrated into existing or future global health initiatives?


It is not necessary to respond to all of the questions listed above.

Responses will be accepted until July 2, 2010, via email to:

Please mark your responses with this RFI identifier NOT-HL-11-107.  For each suggested high priority area of adherence research, please provide brief background information, define the challenge and outline the potential solution.  Reponses are expected to be no longer than approximately 1,000 words.

Respondents will receive an automated email confirmation acknowledging receipt of their response, but will not receive individualized feedback.

Significance to Public Health

Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is a critical determinant of health and well-being.  Adequate sleep is necessary to maintain resistance to infection, support the metabolism of sugar to prevent diabetes, perform our best on the job or in school, and sustain the vigilance necessary for workplace and driving safety.  Sleep disorders and sleep restriction due to lifestyle choices are associated with fatigue, psychological disturbances, and decrements in performance and vigilance, compromising the safety of oneself and others.  Sleep is also a basic requirement for infant, child, and adolescent health and development and recent evidence points toward long-term trends for decreased sleep during the first two decades.  Further, sleep loss and untreated sleep disorders influence basic patterns of behavior that stress family health and interpersonal relationships.  Sleep timing and duration is coupled to an array of endocrine, metabolic and neurological functions that are critical for the maintenance of individual health and well-being. 

More than 20% of US adults report insufficient sleep or rest at least 15 out of every 30 days.  Sleep disorders including insomnia, circadian phase disorder, and restless legs syndrome are relatively common and present challenges for detection, prevention, therapy, and management.  Sleep disordered breathing (sleep apnea) affects more than 20 million US adults, and if left untreated is associated with a 2-3 fold increased risk of stroke and mortality from all causes. 

Sleep health is also a pervasive challenge for individuals with chronic disabilities and disorders that cause pain and fatigue such as arthritis, kidney disease, HIV, and depression.  In elderly populations, medical and mental health consequences of untreated sleep disorders include sharply increase rates of diminished health-related quality of life, to physical and functional limitations, the ability to remain independent, and an increased risk of death from any cause. 


Responses to this RFI are voluntary and may be anonymous.  Any identifiers (e.g., names, institutions, e-mail addresses, etc) will be removed when responses are compiled.  Only the processed, anonymized results will be shared internally with scientific working groups convened by the NIH, as appropriate. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response.  The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s). 

This Request for Information (RFI) is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, or the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH does not intend to award a grant or contract to pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the NIH’s use of such information.  Respondents not be notified of the NIH evaluation of the information received.  No basis for claims against the NIH shall arise as a result of a response to this request for information or the NIH’s use of such information as either part of our evaluation process or in developing specifications for any subsequent announcement.  Responses will be held confidential. Proprietary information should not be sent.


Interested parties may contact:

Michael Twery, Ph.D.
Director, National Center on Sleep Disorders Research
Division of Lung Diseases, NHLBI
Two Rockledge Centre, Suite 10170
6701 Rockledge Drive
Bethesda, Maryland 20895-7952
Phone: 301-435-0199
FAX: 301-480-3451

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