Scientists at Reykjavik University (RU) to lead a research project receiving a 15-million Euro Horizon 2020 grant

Erna Sif Arnardóttir, lector at Reykjavik University

October 18, 2021

Sleep Revolution, an interdisciplinary international research and development project, has been selected for a 15-million Euro grant from the EU‘s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Health, demographic change and wellbeing.


The project is led by Dr. Erna Sif Arnardóttir, Assistant Professor at Reykjavik University’s Department of Engineering. With almost 40 international collaborating partners from academia and industry, it aims to develop machine learning techniques to better estimate the severity and treatment needs for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), to improve health outcomes and quality of life. With the commitment of the European Sleep Research Society and the Assembly of National Sleep Societies, with its over 8000 members, the project further aims to create new standardised international guidelines for sleep medicine.


About half of the grant amount will be used in Iceland, for example to construct a powerful database consisting of data from sleep measurements of 30 thousand individuals, collected in Iceland and around Europe. For collecting additional data, the team will use smart watches, questionnaires, sleep-measuring devices, and neuropsychological tests. Furthermore, a safe digital platform will be developed for scientists and health professionals to share their findings and recommendations to participants and for participants to share data for research and diagnosis purposes.

Dr. Erna Sif Arnardóttir is the Director of the Reykjavik University Sleep Institute, chairman of the Icelandic Sleep Research Society and a director of the board of the European Sleep Research Society, which is also a participant in the research project:

It is a tremendous honour to get this opportunity to gather this large groups of Europe‘s leading experts and innovators in sleep research into one large research and development project to bring the field into the forefront of digital healthcare. By using interdisciplinary methods and new possibilities in information technology and artificial intelligence we aim to revolutionise how knowledge of obstructive sleep apnia and other sleep-related respiratory obstructions, such as snoring, is gained and used. We will shift the focus in analysis and treatment to the daily lives of people and pave the way for individual and more personal health care.

Dr. Ari Kristinn Jonsson, former President of Reykjavik University says that the grant is yet another confirmation of the quality of research conducted at the University.

The competition in the Horizon 2020 Program is extremely tough and it is an amazing achievement for a young scientist to be selected for a grant in first try, and with a full house of points from the evaluation committee! We are extremely proud and look forward to continue building our sleep research with strong academic and industrial partners in the coming years.

Obstructive sleep apnia (OSA) is associated with various negative health consequences including increased risk of heart disease, hypertension and daytime sleepiness causing road accidents. The economic burden of OSA is rising as almost 1 billion people worldwide are estimated to have OSA. The current diagnostic metric relates poorly to the symptoms and comorbidities of OSA. It merely measures the frequency of breathing cessations without assessing OSA severity in any other physiologically relevant way. Furthermore, the clinical methods for analysing PSG (Polysomnography) signals are outdated, expensive and laborious. Due to this, the majority of OSA patients remain without diagnosis or have an inaccurate diagnosis leading to sub-optimal treatment.


Article from Svefnsetrið