Request for Information (RFI): Research Challenges and Needs in the Interaction of Sleep and Emotion Regulation to Improve Health and Well-being across Health Conditions
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

December 28, 2021

Response Date:
February 28, 2022

Related Announcements


Issued by

Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

National Cancer Institute (NCI)


The NIH is requesting information to gain feedback, comments, and novel ideas from members of the scientific community to help identify the needs and priorities of research on how the interaction between sleep and emotion regulation influences health and variety of disease processes. This information will be used to plan future activities and initiatives that can enhance the research in this area. Feedback on robust biomedical, behavioral, and neurophysiological mechanistic approaches to improve precise, novel targets for sleep and circadian interventions is requested.


Sleep plays an essential role in health, wellness, and well-being, with implications across multiple conditions and life stages. Sleep quality and sleep needs change across the life span, particularly throughout early or later life, as well as from life transitions and events such as living situations, parenthood or menopause. Chronic conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, dementia, personality or mood disorders, alcohol use disorders, and substance use disorders impact sleep quality, and vice versa. Disrupted sleep amplifies an individual’s emotion reactivity and impairs emotion regulation by increasing arousal and negative affect while also decreasing positive affect, which may impact other physiological processes and diseases. In addition, health determinants that impact an individual’s emotion reactivity such as lifestyle and psychosocial stressors are associated with poor sleep quality, sleep deficiency and circadian misalignment.

Research studies suggest a connection between emotion regulation and physical health. However, the underlying biological and behavioral mechanisms linking sleep and emotion regulation to health and health disturbances and the sequential relationships between sleep disturbances and disrupted emotion regulation are not well known. Emotion regulation may be one of the mediating processes by which disrupted sleep impacts health and a multitude of health conditions. Identifying the mechanisms linking the interactions between sleep and emotion regulation to health and health conditions, may shed the light on how these interactions influence health and health-to-disease transitions across different conditions, responses to environmental influences, and outcomes of medical interventions. Disturbances in both sleep and emotion regulation have been observed across different health and disease states such as cancer. For example, emotion regulation is thought to be both a primary motive in the misuse of alcohol and an important target in the treatment of insomnia associated with alcohol use disorder. In addition, sleep and circadian rhythm disturbance in people living with Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease related dementias have been associated with emotional distress and cognitive decline. The additive effects of poor sleep quality and emotional disturbances as a result of stress from racial discrimination is also linked to cardiovascular dysfunction.

Using new methodological advances, identifying novel targets, and leveraging multi-pronged approaches that incorporate biological, behavioral, environmental and socio-economic factors would help identify mechanisms and enhance our knowledge by which sleep and emotion regulation interact to affect health and health conditions. This can lead to insights into the development of more effective interventions through identification of novel targets and approaches to improve health, social function, and well-being through dynamic processes.

NIH invites input from the scientific community, including but not limited to researchers and trainees across academia, industry, and government; health care providers, healthcare professional organizations and patient advocacy organizations; small businesses and the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry; nongovernmental, scientific and professional organizations, and Federal agencies. Additional stakeholders representing other segments of the American public are invited to submit input.

Organizations are strongly encouraged to submit a single response that reflects the views of their organization and membership as a whole.

Information Requested

We are requesting input on the challenges and research needs that can best be addressed through a concerted and coordinated effort to enhance research and development on how the interaction of sleep disturbances and emotional regulation impact physiological processes implicated in health and health conditions such as but not limited to hormonal changes associated with puberty or menopause, cancer, coronary heart and pulmonary disease, metabolic disorders, substance use and alcohol use disorder, neurological disorders, and mental health disorders. Specifically, respondents are asked to provide input on any of the following:

  • Methods, tools, or other research resources needed to characterize the mechanistic link between sleep and emotion regulation to understand how their interaction affects various organ systems, how it promotes health across the lifespan and how it plays a role in the origins and outcomes of diseases and disorders
  • Novel targets that inform biomedical, behavioral, and psychosocial interventions at the intersection between sleep, affect and emotion regulation for prevention and treatment of various disease conditions to impact health, quality of life, and disease outcomes
  • Examples and mechanistic approaches to study how environmental factors, health disparities, and social determinants of health (see NIMHD framework) affect sleep and emotion regulation across the lifespan and in different health conditions, including methods to ensure study samples are representative of diverse populations
  • Other factors (genetic predispositions, lifestyle habits including diet and exercise behavior, comorbid conditions such as alcohol and substance use, sex, age, social isolation, environmental vulnerabilities) that may impact the interaction between sleep and emotion regulation
  • Any other topics that NIH should consider in furthering research on identifying mechanistic approaches and intervention targets linking sleep and emotion regulation across a broad range of health outcomes

How to Submit a Response

  • All comments must be submitted electronically using the online comment form at NOT-OD-22-053 .
  • Responses must be received by 11:59pm ET on February 28 , 2022, to be considered. You will see an electronic confirmation acknowledging receipt of your response.

Responses are voluntary and may be submitted anonymously. Please do not include any personally identifiable or other information that you do not wish to make public. No proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should be included in your response. NIH will use all information submitted in response to this RFI Notice at its discretion and will not provide comments to any responder’s submission. NIH may use information gathered by this RFI Notice to inform the development of future funding opportunity announcements and/or in any resultant solicitations.

This RFI Notice is for information and planning purpose only and should not be interpreted as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government and/or the NIH. No monetary awards will be made to pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government’s use of such information. No basis for claims against the U.S. Government shall arise as a result of a response to this request for information or from the Government’s use of such information.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Dana Schloesser, Ph.D.
Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)

Dan Xi, Ph.D.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Telephone: 240-276-6143

Shilpy Dixit, Ph.D.
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Telephone: 301-402-9064