Interplay between Sleep and Mental Health

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotheray

Group Members
Ines Wilhelm (group leader)
Yasmine Azza (Postdoc)
Anna Wick (PhD)
Mojgan Ehsanifard (PhD)
Clara Sayk (PhD)   


Research Interest

In this research group we focus on the interplay between sleep and mental health across the life-span by combining different methodological approaches (i.e. behavioural measures, event-related potentials, functional MRI, high-density EEG). Mental disorders are often coincided by sleep alterations. These alterations have long been viewed as mere symptoms of mental disorders but accumulating evidence points toward a functional role of sleep in mental health. Our research aims to increase our understanding about how alterations in the macro- and microstructur of sleep can contribute to the development and maintenance of mental disorders. Hereby, one major focus in this context is the mechanistic role of sleep-related mental processes such as memory consolidation and emotion regulation. We further aim to translate this knowledge into sleep-related interventions. More specifically, we aim to develop novel sleep-related methods that target sleep and sleep-related mental processes to increase psychotherapeutic change and mental health.



  • Prof. Björn Rasch, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Prof. Kerstin Hödlmoser, University of Salzburg, Austria
  • Prof. Dana McMakin, Florida International University, USA
  • Dr. Bigna Bölsterli, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • Prof. Birgit Kleim, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • Dr. Judith Amores, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, USA



  1. Wilhelm I, Beck J, Schreiner T, Rasch B (2020) No effect of targeted memory reactivation during sleep on retention of vocabulary in adolescents. Scientific Reports,
  2. Friedrich M, Wilhelm I, Born J, Friederici A (2017) Memory consolidation during infant sleep parallels stages of lexical development. Current Biology, doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.070
  3. Groch S, Preiss A, McMakin D, Rasch B, Walitza S, Huber R, Wilhelm I (2017): Targeted Reactivation during Sleep Differentially Affects Negative Memories in Socially Anxious and Healthy Children and Adolescents. J Neurosci. 37(9): 2425-2434.
  4. Wilhelm I, Groch S, Preiss A, Walitza S, Huber R (2017) Widespread reduction in sleep spindle activity in socially anxious children and adolescents. J Psychiatric Research, 88: 47-55.
  5. Groch S, Schreiner, T, Rasch B, Huber R, Wilhelm I (2017) Prior knowledge is essential for the beneficial effect of targeted memory reactivation during sleep. Scientific Reports, 7:39763