Faculty Profile

Daniel Aeschbach, PhD

Daniel Aeschbach, PhD
Lecturer on Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Associate Neuroscientist, Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Administrative Title(s)

Director, Sleep & EEG Core, Brigham and Women's Hospital

See publications


Division of Sleep Medicine
221 Longwood Avenue, BLI-438
Boston, MA 02115

Inter-office Mail Address

BWH Division of Sleep Medicine, BLI-438

Phone 617-732-5204

Email daeschbach@hms.harvard.edu

Society Memberships

Sleep Research Society
European Sleep Research Society

Research Unit(s)

Sleep & EEG Core; Division of Sleep Medicine
Circadian Group; Division of Sleep Medicine
Harvard Work Hours, Health, and Safety Group; Harvard Medical School

Research Interests

My research focuses on the physiology of sleep-wake regulation in humans. We are studying the homoestatic and circadian processes that regulate the quality, duration and timing of sleep, as well as the quality of wakefulness.  We are integrating quantitative methods of electroencephalogram (EEG) analysis, analysis of endocrine rhythms, and assessments of waking neurobehavioral performance. 
A major part of our work is aimed at understanding the neurobiological basis of inter-individual differences in sleep duration.  By comparing two extreme phenotypic groups – short sleepers and long sleepers – we are investigating whether inter-individual differences in sleep duration have a neurobiological basis in stable trait disparities in homeostatic and circadian sleep regulatory systems.  One of the long-range goals of this work is to understand what sleep need is, and whether it has to be defined individually due to intrinsic, and ultimately genetic factors.  
In another current project we are investigating whether sleep indeed has an intensity dimension that is reflected in a lawful relationship between non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep depth and recovery of brain waking functions as assessed on the basis of the spectral composition of the waking EEG, cognitive and neurobehavioral performance, and mood.


Clark J. Lee, Esq. (undergraduate  student) 2002-2003
Alex J. Cutler (graduate student) 2004-2005
Suman Baddam, MD (postgraduate student) 2007-2009
Melodee A. Mograss, PhD (postdoctoral fellow) 2008-present

Research Funding

“Neurobiology of individual differences in sleep duration” (Principal Investigator: Daniel Aeschbach, PhD)

NARSAD Young Investigator Award
“Role of non-REM sleep intensity in the restoration of cerebral function and mood” (Principal Investigator: Daniel Aeschbach, PhD)

Air Force Office of Scientific Research
"Optimizing the Assessment of Circadian and Sleep/Wake Regulatory Determinants of Human Performance Through State-Of-Art Analysis of Electroencephalogram, Ocular Activity and Motor Activity" (Co-Principal Investigator: Daniel Aeschbach, PhD)

“Mechanism Underlying the Effects of Blue Light in Humans” (Principal Investigator: Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD)

“Adaptation of Circadian Responses to Light Treatment” (Principal Investigator: Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD)


Harvard University, MCB186 Circadian Biology, Faculty member
Harvard University, NSF Chautauqua Course for College Teachers Circadian Biology, Faculty member
Harvard Medical School, Training Program in Sleep, Circadian, and Respiratory Neurobiology: Introductory Course in Sleep Medicine, Faculty member

Selected Publications

Aeschbach D. Searching for function in deep sleep.
Front Neurosci. 2009; 3:402-403.

Aeschbach D. Slow waves and learning: beyond correlations.
Sleep. 2009 Oct 1;32(10):1253-4. [PMID: 19848353]

Aeschbach D, Lockyer BJ, Dijk DJ, Lockley SW, Nuwayser ES, Nichols LD, Czeisler CA. Use of transdermal melatonin delivery to improve sleep maintenance during daytime.
Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Oct;86(4):378-82. Epub 2009 Jul 15.[PMID: 19606092]

Santhi N, Aeschbach D, Horowitz TS, Czeisler CA. The Impact of Sleep Timing and Bright Light Exposure on Attentional Impairment during Night Work.
J Biol Rhythms. 2008 Aug;23(4): 341-52. [PMID: 18663241]

Aeschbach D, Cutler AJ, Ronda JM. A role for non-rapid-eye-movement sleep homeostasis in perceptual learning.
J Neurosci. 2008 Mar 12;28(11):2766-72. [PMID: 18337406]

Zaidi FH, Hull JT, Peirson SN, Wulff K, Aeschbach D, Gooley JJ, Brainard GC, Gregory-Evans K, Rizzo III JF, Czeisler CA, Foster RG, Moseley MJ, Lockley SW. Short-wavelength light sensitivity of circadian, pupillary, and visual awareness in humans lacking an outer retina.
Current Biology 2007; 17(24), 2122-2128.

Lockley SW, Evans EE, Scheer FA, Brainard GC, Czeisler CA, Aeschbach D.  Short-wavelength sensitivity for the direct effects of light on alertness, vigilance, and the waking electroencephalogram in humans.
Sleep. 2006 Feb 1;29(2):161-8. [PMID: 16494083]

Lockley SW, Cronin JW, Evans EE, Cade BE, Lee CJ, Landrigan CP, Rothschild JM, Katz JT, Lilly CM, Stone PH, Aeschbach D, Czeisler CA; Harvard Work Hours, Health and Safety Group.  Effect of reducing interns' weekly work hours on sleep and attentional failures.
N Engl J Med. 2004 Oct 28;351(18):1829-37. [PMID: 15509816]

Aeschbach D, Sher L, Postolache TT, Matthews JR, Jackson MA, Wehr TA.  A longer biological night in long sleepers than in short sleepers.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Jan;88(1):26-30. [PMID: 12519823]

Wehr TA, Duncan WC Jr, Sher L, Aeschbach D, Schwartz PJ, Turner EH, Postolache TT, Rosenthal NE.  A circadian signal of change of season in patients with seasonal affective disorder.
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001 Dec;58(12):1108-14. [PMID: 11735838]

Wehr TA, Aeschbach D, Duncan WC Jr.  Evidence for a biological dawn and dusk in the human circadian timing system.
J Physiol. 2001 Sep 15;535(Pt 3):937-51. PMID: 11559786 

Aeschbach D, Postolache TT, Sher L, Matthews JR, Jackson MA, Wehr TA.  Evidence from the waking electroencephalogram that short sleepers live under higher homeostatic sleep pressure than long sleepers.
Neuroscience. 2001;102(3):493-502. [PMID: 11226688]

Aeschbach D, Matthews JR, Postolache TT, Jackson MA, Giesen HA, Wehr TA. Two circadian rhythms in the human electroencephalogram during wakefulness.
Am J Physiol. 1999 Dec;277(6 Pt 2):R1771-9. [PMID: 10600925]

Endo T, Roth C, Landolt HP, Werth E, Aeschbach D, Achermann P, Borbely AA. Effect of frequent brief awakenings from nonREM sleep on the nonREM-REM sleep cycle.
Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1998 Apr;52(2):129-30. [PMID: 9628109]

Endo T, Roth C, Landolt HP, Werth E, Aeschbach D, Achermann P, Borbely AA. Selective REM sleep deprivation in humans: effects on sleep and sleep EEG.
Am J Physiol. 1998 Apr;274(4 Pt 2):R1186-94. [PMID: 9575987]

Aeschbach D, Matthews JR, Postolache TT, Jackson MA, Giesen HA, Wehr TA. Dynamics of the human EEG during prolonged wakefulness: evidence for frequency-specific circadian and homeostatic influences.
Neurosci Lett. 1997 Dec 19;239(2-3):121-4. [PMID: 9469671]

Aeschbach D, Dijk DJ, Borbely AA. Dynamics of EEG spindle frequency activity during extended sleep in  humans: relationship to slow-wave activity and time of day.
Brain Res. 1997 Feb 14;748(1-2):131-6. [PMID: 9067453]  

Aeschbach D, Cajochen C, Landolt H, Borbely AA. Homeostatic sleep regulation in habitual short sleepers and long sleepers.
Am J Physiol. 1996 Jan;270(1 Pt 2):R41-53. [PMID: 8769783]

Aeschbach D, Dijk DJ, Trachsel L, Brunner DP, Borbely AA. Dynamics of slow-wave activity and spindle frequency activity in the human sleep EEG: effect of midazolam and zopiclone.
Neuropsychopharmacology. 1994 Dec;11(4):237-44. [PMID: 7857498]

Cajochen C, Pischke J, Aeschbach D, Borbely AA. Heart rate dynamics during human sleep.
Physiol Behav. 1994 Apr;55(4):769-74. [PMID: 8190808]

Aeschbach D, Cajochen C, Tobler I, Dijk DJ, Borbely AA. Sleep in a sitting position: effect of triazolam on sleep stages and EEG power spectra.
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1994 Mar;114(2):209-14. [PMID: 7838909]

Aeschbach D, Borbely AA. All-night dynamics of the human sleep EEG.
J Sleep Res. 1993 Jun;2(2):70-81. [PMID: 10607074]

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