Center for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine at Fr – Freiburg University Medical Center

Center for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine at Fr - Freiburg University Medical Center

Psychiatry & Psychotherapy

Center for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine at Fr

Contact: Dieter  
Position: Section Head/ Full Professor
Address: Hauptstr. 5, 79100
City: Freiburg
Country: Germany
Contact Email: Contact laboratory
RESEARCH DOMAIN: Clinical, Basic Human
KEYWORDS: Pharmacology Human, Learning, Memory, Cognition, Pharmacology of Sleep, Sleep and Psychiatry-Personality Disorders, Epidemiology of Sleep, Sleep and Body Functions (Cardio-Respiratory, Thermoregulation/Metabolism, Endocrine), Behavioural Sleep Disorders, Neurological Sleep Disorders


Laboratory Description:

Freiburg University (FU) in 2007 qualified as “University of Excellence” in a competitive award by the German Ministry of Education and Research. The Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (DPP) is part of the Medical Faculty of FU (UKLFR). DPP has been accredited nationally (DIN ISO) and internationally (UEMS) on a European level with respect to clinical care and its research. DPP employs more than 70 academics and hosts several research groups covering a wide range of topics from molecular biology, neuroimaging, clinical psychology, neuropsychology to psychotherapy and sleep research. Furthermore, it is the main local provider for inpatient psychiatric care (120 beds).

Prof. Riemann ( was appointed Full Professor of Clinical Psychophysiology at DPP in 1993 and since then leads the Centre for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (CSRSM) and also the Section for Clinical Psychology & Psychophysiology/Sleep Medicine. He is an active member of the Steering committee of DPP and of FU Institute for Training in Behavioural Therapy (FAVT) and besides his tenure in the Medical Faculty is co-opted in the Psychological Faculty. Prof. Riemann is member of numerous scientific societies (German Society for Psychology, German Society for Psychiatry & Psychotherapy, German Sleep Society-GSS, European Sleep Research Society-ESRS, American Sleep Society – SRS, World Association of Sleep Medicine – WASM, World Federation of Sleep Research Societies – WFSRS, etc.). He served as a member of the executive board of the GSS and was head of the Insomnia Work group of this society for more than 10 years. From 2004 – 2008 he was a member of the Scientific Committee of the ESRS. In 2008 he was elected Treasurer of the ESRS. From 2000–2002 and from 2007 – 2009 he was a member of the steering committee of the GSS to establish German guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. He participated as a member in the work group Insomnia of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD-2) from 2003-2004. In 2007 he was appointed a member of the work group Sleep Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association for DSM-V. This engagement will last till 2013. Prof. Riemann has served as an ad-hoc reviewer for more than 30 international peer-reviewed scientific journals and for research funding agencies like DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft = German Research Council), Swiss National Foundation, Austrian National Bank, the Academy of Finland and a Belgium Funding agency. His research work in the last 20 years was funded by DFG, the BMBF (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung = German Ministry for Education and Research), intramural funds from DPP and the Medical Faculty Freiburg, the GSS and support from pharmaceutical companies. Two ongoing studies are supported financially by EU. (

Main research expertise of the Center is in the fields of psychiatric sleep research and insomnia research. The work group has studied polysomnographic sleep patterns in depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, alcohol and nicotine dependence, obsessive-compulsive disorders, borderline personality disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Work on insomnia encompasses epidemiological and diagnostic studies, neuroendocrine and neuroimmunological work as well as approaches investigating learning/memory and neuroimaging in insomnia. In the last 20 years, the center has published more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Besides, more than 10 books mainly dealing with Cognitive-Behavioural Treatment of insomnia (CBT-I) have been published. At present, insomnia is the main focus of research activities of the Center. Past, present and ongoing work aims at describing the neurobiological and psychological basis of the disorder utilizing both well established and newly introduced methods in a multidimensional approach. These research activities are well integrated in day-to-day clinical work with insomniac patients, who are offered the full spectrum of treatment possibilities ranging from pharmacological interventions to evidence-based cognitive-behavioural treatment.

The group of Prof. Riemann has longstanding expertise in training in the field of sleep research and sleep medicine. Prof. Riemann has given more than 500 presentations at national and international meetings. These include many courses (1-2 days) on CBT-I. Prof. Riemann is regularly invited by Teaching Institutes for Behavioural Therapy to give seminars on CBT-I in Freiburg, Mannheim, Münster, Zürich (Switzerland), Salzburg (Austria), Brixen (Italy) and at various locations (Prag, Bertinoro, Barcelona, Glasgow) by the ESRS. At FU, Prof. Riemann lectures both in the Medical and the Psychological Faculty. He regularly holds an interdisciplinary weekly seminar on sleep research and sleep medicine. Furthermore, he coordinates the general research seminar of DPP. In his work group, 3 weekly meetings are coordinated by him: a) a research meeting coordinating logistic aspects of patient recruitment and studies; b) a patient-focussed meeting discussing clinical aspects of diagnoses and treatment and c) a research meeting discussing ongoing studies, new ideas, grant proposals and manuscripts. Prof. Riemann has mentored more than 100 master’s thesis and medical and psychological dissertations at FU in the last fifteen years in the field of sleep research. Within the field of psychiatry, 6 colleagues have successfully completed their qualification for Professorship (“Habilitation”) in the sleep research group. Besides his teaching activities in Freiburg, Prof. Riemann was appointed Adjunct professor of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester, NY from 2006 – 2008. The group has hosted guest researchers from Columbia, Poland, US, Chile, the UK and Italy over the last years.

Additionally, many psychologists and psychiatrists from Germany have stayed at the CSRSM because the GSS has accredited this centre as a training centre for psychiatric and neurological sleep medicine. It has been also accredited a training centre for sleep medicine by the local chamber of physicians. Prof. Riemann, besides his qualification as a board certified psychotherapist, is also an accredited supervisor for cognitive-behavioural therapy. Due to the interdisciplinarity of the group encompassing basic and clinical psychologists, colleagues from biology, physics, neurology and psychiatry, and with its excellent contacts to other departments in the Medical and Psychological Faculties it can guarantee a high quality of training in scientific skills. These include statistics and data analyses, project planning and execution, patient recruitment according to highest ethical principles, diagnostic standards, electro- and neurophysiological methods (polysomnography, spectral analysis of sleep EEG data), experimental- and neuropsychology, neuroendocrinological and -immunological techniques as well as neuroimaging methods. The group has an excellent track record and can therefore guarantee a high standard of training in these fields.

Additional Descriptors, Keywords:

insomnia, depression, REM sleep, antidepressants, hypnotics, CBT-I, spectral analysis, sleep deprivation, sleep restriction, neuronal plasticity, ADHD, borderline personality disorders, hyperarousal

KEY Publications of the Laboratory:

Berger. M., Riemann, D., Höchli, D., Spiegel, R.: The cholinergic REM sleep induction test with RS 86: State or trait marker of depression? Archives of General Psychiatry, 46, 421 428, 1989.

Riemann, D., Berger, M.: EEG sleep in depression and in remission and the cholinergic REM induction test with RS 86. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2, 145 152, 1989.

Lauer, C., Riemann, D., Wiegand, M., Berger, M.: From early to late adulthood: Changes in EEG sleep of depressed patients and healthy volunteers. Biological Psychiatry, 29, 979 993, 1991.

Riemann, D., Wiegand, M., Berger, M.: Are there predictors for sleep deprivation response in depressed patients. Biological Psychiatry, 29, 707 710, 1991.

Wiegand, M., Riemann, D., Schreiber, W., Lauer, C., Berger, M.: Effect of morning and afternoon naps on mood after total sleep deprivation in patients with major depression. Biological Psychiatry, 33, 467 476, 1993.

Schramm, E., Hohagen, F., Grasshoff, U., Riemann, D., Hajak, G., Weiss, H.G., Berger, M.: Test retest reliability and validity of a structured interview for sleep disorders according to DSM III R (SIS D). American Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 867 872, 1993

Hohagen, F., Rink, K., Schramm, E., Riemann, D., Weyerer, S., Berger, M.: Prevalence and treatment of insomnia in general practice a longitudinal study. European Archives of Psych-iatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 242, 329 336, 1993.

Riemann, D., Gann, H., Müller, W.E., Aldenhoff, J.B.: The influence of galanthamine hydrobromide on sleep in healthy subjects. Psychiatry Research, 51, 253-267, 1994.

Riemann, D., Hohagen, F., Bahro, M., Berger, M.: Sleep in depression: The influence of age, gender and diagnostic subtype on baseline sleep and the cholinergic REM induction test with RS 86. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 243, 279-290, 1994.

Riemann, D., Hohagen, F., Gann, H., Olbrich, R., Wark, H.J., Bohus, M., Löw, H., Müller, W.E., Berger, M.: The REM sleep response to cholinergic stimulation: Indicator of muscarinic supersensitivity in schizophrenia? Journal of Psychiatric Research, 28, 195-210, 1994.

Riemann, D., Lis, S., Fritsch-Montero, R., Krieger, S., Meier, S., Hohagen, F., Berger, M.: The effect of tetrahydroaminoacridine on sleep in healthy subjects. Biological Psychiatry, 39, 796-802, 1996.

Berger, M., Vollmann, J., Hohagen, F., König, A., Lohner, H., Voderholzer, U., Riemann, D.: Sleep deprivation combined with consecutive sleep-phase advance as a fast-acting therapy in depression: An open pilot trial in medicated and unmedicated patients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 870-872, 1997.

Lieb, K., Reincke, M., Riemann, D., Voderholzer, U.: Sleep deprivation and growth-hormone secretion. The Lancet, 356, 2096-2097, 2000.

Riemann, D., Berger, M., Voderholzer, U.: Sleep and depression – results from psychobio-logical studies: an overview. Biological Psychology, 57, 67-103, 2001.

Riemann, D., Voderholzer, U., Cohrs, S., Rodenbeck, A., Hajak, G., Rüther, E., Wiegand, M.H., Laakmann, G., Baghai, T., Fischer, W., Hoffmann, M., Hohagen, F., Mayer, G., Berger, M.: Trimipramine in primary insomnia: Results of a polysomnographic double-blind con-trolled study. Pharmacopsychiatry, 35, 165-174, 2002.

Gann, H., Feige, B., Hohagen, F., van Calker, D., Geiss, D., Riemann, D.: Sleep and the cholinergic rapid eye movement sleep induction test in patients with primary alcohol depen- dence. Biological Psychiatry, 50, 383-390, 2001.

Riemann, D., Voderholzer, U.: Primary insomnia: a risk factor to develop depression? Journal of Affective Disorders, 76, 247-251, 2003.

Voderholzer, U., Hohagen, F., Klein, T., Jungnickel, J., Kirschbaum, C., Berger, M., Riemann, D.: Impact of sleep deprivation and subsequent recovery sleep on cortisol in unmedicated depressed patients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 1404-1410, 2004.

Riemann, D., Voderholzer, U., Spiegelhalder, K., Hornyak, M., Buysse, D.J., Nissen, C., Hennig, J., Perlis, M., Tebartz van Elst, L., Feige, B.: Chronic insomnia and MRI-measured hippocampal volumes: A pilot study. Sleep, 30, 955-958, 2007.

Hornyak, M., Rupp, A., Riemann, D., Feige, B., Berger, M., Voderholzer, U.: Low-dose hydrocortisone in the evening modulates symptom severity in restless legs syndrome. Neuro-logy, 70, 1620-1622, 2008.

Riemann, D., Perlis, M.: The treatments of insomnia: A review of benzodiazepine receptor agonists and psychological and behavioural therapies. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 13, 205-214, 2009.

Van Someren, E., Pollmächer, T., Leger, D., Espie, C., Bassetti, C., Riemann, D.: The European Insomnia Network. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 3, 436, 2009.

Riemann, D., Spiegelhalder, K., Feige, B., Voderholzer, U., Berger, M., Perlis, M., Nissen, C.: The hyperarousal model of insomnia: A review of the concept and its evidence. Sleep Medi-cine Reviews, 14, 19-31, 2010.

Spiegelhalder, K., Kyle, S.D., Feige, B., Prem, M., Nissen, C., Espie, C.A., Riemann, D.: The impact of sleep-related attentional bias on polysomnographically measured sleep in primary insomnia. Sleep, 33, 107-112, 2010.

Riemann, D., Spiegelhalder, K., Espie, C., Pollmächer, T., Léger, D., Bassetti, C., van Someren, E.: Chronic insomnia: Clinical and research challenges – An Agenda. Pharmacopsychiatry, 44, 1-14, 2011.


  • Title:  Name:  Michael Perlis Position: Full Professor Institution: University of Pennsylvania/ Philadelphia Email: 
  • Title:  Name:  Eus van Someren Position: Department Head Institution: University of Amsterdam Email: 
  • Title:  Name:  Colin Espie Position: Department Head Institution: University of Glasgow Email: 
  • Title:  Name:  Charles Reynolds Position: Department Head Institution: University of Pittsburgh Email: 
  • Title:  Name:  Thomas Pollmächer Position: Department Head Institution: Center for Mental Health Ingolstadt Email: 
  • Title:  Name:  Caterina Lombardo Position: Full Professor Institution: University of Rome Email: 
  • Title:  Name:  Hans Stassen Position: Department Head Institution: University of Zürich Email: