Dr. J. Mathis Group (Neurology)

Group leader

Dr. Johannes Mathis
Department of Neurology, University Hospital Inselspital,
Sleep-Wake Centre

Institution and Address

University of Bern, vonRoll Area, Fabrikstrasse 8

Phone: +41 31 632 30 54

e-mail: johannes.mathis@insel.ch

Homepage: www.schlafmedizin.ch

Main goals

Multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment of patients with narcolepsy and other essential hypersomnias, non-organic hypersomnia, insomnia including restless legs syndrome, parasomnias and sleep-wake rhythm disorders.
Research on causes and consequences of excessive daytime sleepiness, including subjective sleepiness perception, as possible cause of motor vehicle crashes.
Reaction time EEG in the assessment of driving ability in epilepsy

Group members and their position

Dr. sc. nat. Corinne Roth, Somnologist, Sleep-Wake Centre

PD Dr. Arto Nirkko, Senior Physician, Sleep Centre Lucerne

Dr. Wolfgang Schmitt, Senior Physician, Psychiatry

David Schreier, scientific co-worker

Sandra Röthlisberger, Psychologist, Sleep-Wake Centre

Anneke Hertig-Godeschalk, PhD Student

Previous and current research

1. Can sleepy people fall asleep without prior awareness of sleepiness? We have demonstrated, that sleep deprived healthy young subjects can fall asleep without prior awareness of sleepiness in the situation of a maintenance of wakefulness test (Hermann et. al.). However in no trial these severely sleepy persons felt asleep before signalling their sleepiness under the conditions of a driving simulator (Schreier et. al.).

2. The autonomic system is a major player in the pathogenesis of periodic leg movements in sleep (PLMS) (Guggisberg et. al.). We have demonstrated that heart rate variability changes appear seconds before leg jerks in a time sequence with slow waves and EEG acceleration, indicating that PLMS are rather a consequence and not the cause of EEG arousals.

Future projects

1. Are multiple vigilance tests helpful in the differential diagnosis of essential hypersomnias and while differentiating organic from non-organic hypersomnias.
2. What is the pathogenesis of periodic leg movements?
3. What is the value of the reaction time EEG to judge driving ability in epilepsy?
4. Is subjective sleepiness perception impaired in patients with sleep-wake disorders?

Techniques / methods

Maintenance of Wakefulness Test, driving simulator, psychomotor Vigilance Test, Reaction Time EEG, actigraphy.


Polysomnography, EEG, driving simulators

Selected publications

A. G. Guggisberg, Ch. W. Hess, J. Mathis. The significance of the sympathetic nervous system in the pathophysiology of periodic leg movemnts in sleep. Sleep 30: 755-766, 2007
U.S. Herrmann, Ch. W. Hess, A. Guggisberg, C. Roth, M. Gug-ger, J. Mathis, Sleepiness is not always perceived before falling asleep in healthy, sleep deprived subjects. Sleep Medicine 11: 747-751, 2010
H. Krestel, A. Nirkko, A. Von Allmen, Ch. Liechti, J. Wettstein, A. Mosbacher, J. Mathis. Spike-triggered reaction-time EEG as a possible assessment tool for driving ability. Epilepsia 52 (10): 126-9 (2011)
S. Ruch, O. Markes, S.B. Duss, Th. P. Reber, D. Oppliger, Th. Reber, Th. Koenig, J. Mathis, C. Roth, K. Henke, Sleep stage II contributes to the consolidation of episodic memories. Neuropsychologia, 50 (10) 2389-96, 2012

Selected lectures, seminars, colloquia

Neurophysiology educational courses.
Polysomnography and vigilance tests for medical students
Excessive daytime sleepiness and its impact on society: Seniorenuniversität, Bern


Co-Investigator SNF Grant Prof. K. Henke, Dept. of Psychology