Clinical Research

Light and ACT-based intervention to reduce stress at work

In this project we investigate if a combination of morning-bright light and ACT-based (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) interventions effectively reduces feelings of stress and burnout at work. We examine if such a change is related to changes in sleep-wake-regulation as for instance measured by rest-activity-profiles. The intervention lasts over 8 weeks and consists of weekly group meetings with the participants as well as bright-light exposure and ACT-based exercises at home or at work.

In this project we work inter-disciplinary and in close collaboration with “Verhaltenstherapie-Ambulanz” of the UPK (Dr. Klaus Bader und Stefanie Urech) and experts in the field of Psychiatry and Sleep and Circadian Medicine (Prof. Undine Lang, Dr. Helen Slawik, Dr. Martin Meyer and Dr. Corrado Garbazza). Together, we pursue the ultimate aim to strengthen resilience against work-related stress by low-threshold interventions.

This project is funded by the Gertrud Thalmann Fonds (“Chronobiological and Acceptance and Commitment Based Training for the Successful Handling of Stress in the Workplace. A Randomised Crossover Clinical Study”).


Dr. Carolin Reichert

Dr. Carolin Reichert

Deputy head, PhD, Psychologist

Chronobiology, sleep-related risk factors and light therapy in perinatal depression: the “LIFE-ON” project

Perinatal depression (PND) refers to a specific subtype of major depressive disorder, with onset during pregnancy (antenatal depression) and up to 12 months after delivery (postpartum depression). With an overall estimated prevalence of 12%, PND is one of the most common complications of childbirth and, when unrecognized or untreated, it has significant negative consequences not only on the health of the mothers, but also on the physical, emotional and cognitive development of their children. No certain risk factors are known to predict PND and no completely safe pharmacologic treatments are available during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Sleep disruption and depression are strongly correlated by a solid mutual causal relationship. Bright Light Therapy is a well-tested and safe treatment, effective in both depression and sleep-wake disorders.

The “LIFE-ON” project is a large cohort study, in which about 450 women are followed-up from early pregnancy until 12 months after delivery. The main study aims are:

  • to systematically characterize risk factors for PND by prospectively assessing sleep (using actigraphy, polysomnography and sleep questionnaires) and blood markers during the perinatal period
  • to explore the relationship between specific genetic polymorphisms and PND
  • to investigate the effectiveness of Bright Light Therapy in preventing and treating PND


The project is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant: 320030_160250/1) and the Italian Ministry of Health and Emilia-Romagna Region (grant: PE-2011-02348727).


Dr. med. Corrado Garbazza

Dr. med. Corrado Garbazza

MD, PhD, Physician-Scientist, ESRS somnologist


The “LIFE-ON” project is an international, multicenter study involving the Centre for Chronobiology of Basel and the following partner centers:

  • Prof. Fabio Cirignotta, Department of Head, Neck and Sensory System, Neurology Unit, Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University of Bologna (Italy)
  • Prof. Alessandro Cicolin, Sleep Medicine Center, Neuroscience Department, AOU Città della Salute e della Scienza – Molinette, University of Turin (Italy)
  • Prof. Mauro Manconi, Sleep and Epilepsy Center, Neurocenter of Southern Switzerland, Lugano (Switzerland)
  • Dr. Armando D’Agostino, Department of Health Sciences, University of Milan (Italy)


  • Garbazza C, Hackethal S, Riccardi S, Cajochen C, Cicolin A, D’Agostino A, Cirignotta F, Manconi M. Polysomnographic features of pregnancy: A systematic review. Sleep Med Rev. 2020 Apr;50:101249. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2019.101249
  • Blume C, Garbazza C, Spitschan M. Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie (Berl). 2019 Sep;23(3):147-156. doi: 10.1007/s11818-019-00215-x.
  • Garbazza C, Manconi M. Management Strategies for Restless Legs Syndrome/Willis-Ekbom Disease during Pregnancy. Sleep Med Clin. 2018 Sep;13(3):335-348. doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2018.05.001.
  • Garbazza C,Benedetti F. Genetic Factors Affecting Seasonality, Mood, and the Circadian Clock. Front. Endocrinol. 9:481. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2018.00481.
  • Baiardi S, Cirignotta F, Cicolin A, Garbazza C, D’Agostino A, Gambini O, Giordano A, Canevini M, Zambrelli E, Marconi AM, Mondini S, Borgwardt S, Cajochen C, Rizzo N, Manconi M. Chronobiology, sleep-related risk factors and light therapy in perinatal depression: the “Life-ON” project. BMC Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 4;16(1):374.

Effects of Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation on sleep and physical activity in pediatric depression

There is growing evidence that deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids is involved in the emergence and maintenance of symptoms of major depressive disorders (MDD) among adult patients. The annual dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids shows a moderate to strong inverse association with the rate of depressive disorders. Accordingly, compared to placebo, supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids has shown superior effects on symptoms of MDD in adult patients. Studies on the deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids among children and adolescents are sparse. One of the key features displayed in depressive disorders is poor sleep, and a dramatic reduction in physical activity. Therefore, it is of great interest to gain further insights into specific sleep-related characteristics in pMDD and to understand the possible influence of omega-3 fatty acids on sleep and physical activity.

Current State

The present project is an add-on project to a multi-centre, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized superiority study investigating omega-3 fatty acids as first-line treatment in pediatric depression (Omega-3-pMDD Study). The add-on project aims to examine possible effects of Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation on subjective and objective sleep characteristics and physical activity in children and adolescents meeting criteria for MDD. Moreover, we aim to gain further insights into the association between pediatric depression, inflammatory markers (e.g. C-reactive protein) and subjective and objective sleep parameters.

Currently, both the Omega-3-pMDD Study and the present add-on project are ongoing. This project is funded by the Gertrud Thalman Fonds and a SNF IICT grant.


PhD student Michael Strumberger


MSc students/interns: Salome Wild, Catrina Pedrett, Laila Rosenthaler


PD Dr. med. Gregor Berger, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Psychiatric Hospital, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Prof. Klaus Schmeck, Research Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychiatric University Hospitals Basel, University of Basel, Switzerland

Prof. Reto Huber, Child Development Center and Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center, University Children’s Hospital Zurich, Switzerland