Early Sleep Interventions to Improve Outcomes in Children with Neurodisability

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

The multidisciplinary Kids Sleep Research Team at Child Health Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine, UQ is seeking a motivated PhD scholar to join them in tackling sleep to improve outcomes in children with neurodisability. The Team are commencing a large multisite three-phased prospective cohort study involving Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. This project is suited to an individual who wishes to pursue a clinical research career and has an interest in paediatric sleep medicine.


Sleep disruption is very common in children with neurodisability and has a profound effect on the quality of life for the entire family. Sleep represents a modifiable factor for this vulnerable group of children, which improved has the potential to improve overall health and well-being. There is a paucity of large- scale trials evaluating sleep in children with neurodisability and as a result clinical practice is based on expert opinion and extrapolation of management strategies used in neurotypical children. 

Project Goals

The overall objective of this research program is to improve sleep in children with neurodisability to improve outcomes. This program of research will inform different aspects of diagnosis and management of sleep problems in children with neurodisability with the long-term goal of developing a national policy for the management of sleep in children with neurodisability. 

Phases of Research Program

There are three phases to this  reseach program as outlined below. The successful applicant would have a primary role in phase 3. 

Phase (1) A large cross-sectional survey study examining the current prevalence and management of sleep problems in Australian children with neurodisability. This study includes a community and hospital recruitment arm. The successful applicant would have a peripheral role in this study in order to understand the evolvement of the research program. 

Phase (2) A prospective cohort study evaluating a novel sleep mat, the Sonomat, for diagnosis of sleep breathing problems in children with neurodisability. This component of the research program is already underway, and the successful applicant would not be expected to be involved in this study. 

Phase (3) A randomised controlled trial to evaluate a novel behavioural sleep intervention for management of insomnia in children with neurodisability. This project will include developing the behavioural sleep intervention, informed by existing literature, local resources, a modified delphi study and novel technology. Both the content and the mode of delivery will be evaluated, comparing to current standard clinical practice.  

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Dr Jasneek Chawla

Faculty of Medicine

Email: j.chawla@uq.edu.au

Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of paediatric sleep medicine would be of benefit to someone working on this project but is not essential as this could be developed through the research program. An interest in and previous experience of children with developmental disorders would be desirable but is not essential.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of paediatric medicine or a related allied health speciality and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of psychology is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2023. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

This scholarship is open to Australian citizens, permanent residents and International students who are currently in Australia at the time of application and commencement.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process