• Professor Sara Arber, University of Surrey (Principal Investigator)

  • Professor Roger Orpwood, University of Bath

  • Professor Debra Skene, University of Surrey

  • Dr Ingrid Eyers, University of Surrey/ Vechta University, Germany

  • Professor Kevin Morgan, University of Loughborough

  • Professor David Armstrong, Kings College London



  • Daniel Barrett, University of Surrey

  • Dr Bruce Carey-Smith, University of Bath

  • Emma Cope, University of Surrey/ St. Peter’s Hospital, Surrey

  • Dr Beverley David, Loughborough University

  • Dr Alex Dregan, University of Surrey/ King’s College London

  • Nina Evans, University of Bath

  • Pamela Gregory, Loughborough University

  • Dr Samantha Hopkins, University of Surrey

  • Dr Rebekah Luff, University of Surrey

  • Dr Robert Meadows, University of Surrey

  • Dr Benita Middleton, University of Surrey

  • Dr Susan Venn, University of Surrey

PhD students

  • Theresa Ellmers, University of Surrey

  • Claire Gascoigne, Loughborough University

  • Katharina Lederle, University of Surrey

  • Lloyd Morgan, University of Surrey

Project partners

  • Healthtalkonline, University of Oxford: Sue Ziebland

  • AgeUK: Dr James Goodwin

  • Nottinghamshire Health Care NHS Trust: Dr Maureen Tomeny

  • Philips lighting: Dr Luc Schlangen

  • Relatives and residents association: Dr Gillian Dalley, Pat Duff OBE

Advisory committee

  • Professor Colin Espie, University of Glasgow

  • Dr Gillian Crosby, Centre for Policy in Ageing

  • Dr Chris Hanning, University of Leicester

  • Professor Mike Nolan, University of Sheffield

  • Dr John Shneerson, Papworth Hospital, Cambridge

  • Professor Christina Victor, Brunel University

  • Dr Luci Wiggs, Oxford Brookes University

  • Professor Bob Woods, University of Wales


Sara Arber

Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender (CRAG)
Sociology Department, Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences
University of Surrey
Guildford GU2 7XH

Tel: +44 1483 689292


The SomnIA interdisciplinary team comprises partners from six disciplines and four institutions:

  • Sociology (Sara Arber/Rebekah Luff/Susan Venn, Surrey)

  • Psychology (Kevin Morgan, Loughborough)

  • Neuroendocrinology (Debra Skene/Benita Middleton, Surrey)

  • Engineering (Roger Orpwood, Bath)

  • Nursing (Ingrid Eyers, Surrey)

  • Medicine (David Armstrong, Kings College London)

Together with consultants in

  • health economics (Heather Gage)

  • medical statistics (Peter Williams)

  • clinical psychology (Maureen Tomeny)

SomnIA worked closely with five project partners:

  • Philips Lighting

  • North Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust

  • Healthtalkonline (University of Oxford)

  • The Relatives and Residents Association

  • AgeUK

These project partners provided detailed advice, access to research settings and products, and assisted in the dissemination of results.

Aims and objectives

Good sleep in later life reduces risk of falls and depression, is essential for maintaining activity and performance levels, and reduces challenging behaviour encountered in dementia sufferers.

SomnIA aimed to characterise and improve the sleep of older people both living in the community and in care homes, and thereby improve quality of life and functioning, and reduce use of sleep medication.

This was achieved through the following four sets of objectives:

  1. Understand the meanings and determinants of poor quality sleep among older people in community and residential settings (WP1, WP2, WP3).

  2. Develop and evaluate Expert Patient supported self-management of older people with sleep problems in general practice (WP4).

  3. Develop effective novel non-pharmacological treatment options for sleep problems. Evaluate ‘blue-enriched’ light in improving sleep of older people in the community and care homes (WP5, WP6), and develop and evaluate sensor-based products for use by frail older people at home and in care homes (WP7).

  4. Develop a module on ‘sleep problems’ for the Healthtalkonline website and a user-friendly information website for older people with sleep problems (WP8).

Policy implications

Key policy and/or practice implications

Key policy and/or practice implications of the research focussed primarily on reducing use of sleeping medication among older people through the development and evaluation of non-pharmacological ways of improving sleep.

These included

  • providing examples of best self-help practice for older people with sleeping problems living in the community

  • recommendations about light exposure and activities for older people

  • recommendations for changing routines in care homes to facilitate improved sleep, including recommendations about daily routine of residents, activities of residents, night-time routines of care staff, and noise levels

  • recommendations for increasing illumination levels in care homes (both natural and artificial), and designing care homes to maximise natural light exposure

  • providing advice to older people and to health care professionals about the importance of sleep and ways of optimising quality sleep, including through the sleep module on the Healthtalkonline website

Product development opportunities

Product development opportunities included:

  • Philips (a non-academic partner) and other Lighting companies were encouraged to design lights specifically tailored to older people (optimising lighting both in terms of intensity and spectral composition).

  • Development of innovative sensor products (eg, automatic lighting relating to an older person’s behaviour and behaviour monitoring) provided manufacturers with an opportunity to manufacture products to facilitate sleep (and minimise night-time disturbance) for older people in care homes and the community.

Key non-academic user groups that were targeted

Key non-academic user groups that were targeted:

  • Older people in care homes, their relatives and friends.

  • Care home proprietors and companies; care home managers and staff.

  • Care home architects and interior designers.

  • Designers of housing for older people.

  • Charities and other organisations representing older people, both living in the community and in care homes.

  • Health care professionals: Primary Care Trusts, nurses, health and social care staff.

  • Educators and trainers of health and social care professionals.

  • Lighting and other equipment manufacturers.