Shanthakumar Wilson Rajaratnam



Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Shantha is Deputy Head of the School of Psychological Sciences, and Deputy Director of the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health. He is also the Director of Engagement and Translation for the Turner Instutute.

His primary research interest is in the field of sleep and circadian medicine.

Sleep is increasingly recognised as the third pillar of good health, along side diet and exercise. Poor sleep quality and sleep deficiency are linked to a number of serious health problems, including depression and cardiovascular disease, as well as impaired alertness and neurocognitive functioning, reduced productivity and increased accident risk.

Shantha's research program aims to investigate the role of the internal biological clock in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, and how disruption of the clock leads to sleep disorders and other physiological consequences (for example, in shift workers). His group is developing novel treatment approaches for sleep disorders that are caused by biological clock disruption. These include light and melatonin treatments. The group is also investigating the contribution of sleep disturbances and fatigue to mood disorders and impaired cognition in clinical populations.

Sleep loss and impaired alertness adversely affect occupational safety, health and productivity, and also road safety. About 20 percent of serious car crash injuries are associated with driver sleepiness. Shantha's research is examining innovative technologies to monitor alertness in occupational and transportations settings, and is developing and testing intervention strategies aimed at reducing the burden associated with impaired alertness in these contexts.

Community service

2011-2014 President, Australasian Sleep Association

2020-present Chair, Sleep Health Foundation

2016-2020 Board Member, Sleep Health Foundation

2013-2020 Program Leader, Alertness CRC

2007-present Chair, Monash Sleep Network

Research interests

  • Circadian regulation of sleep and wakefulness
  • Role of the circadian clock in regulating mood and cognitive function
  • Effects of melatonin and melatonin agonists on sleep and circadian rhythms
  • Effects of light on the human circadian system
  • Consequences of sleep and circadian disruption in clinical and occupational contexts
  • Development and evaluation of interventions for sleep and circadian disruption in transport and occupational settings
  • Legal issues relating to sleep loss and sleepiness


Monash teaching commitment

2011-2014 Director of Undergraduate Programs, School of Psychology and Psychiatry

Education/Academic qualification


Award Date: 29 Mar 2000


Award Date: 11 Mar 1998

Psychology, BSc(Hons), MONASH UNIVERSITY

Award Date: 20 Apr 1994

External positions

Associate Neuroscientist, Brigham and Women's Hospital

1 Jul 2004 → …

Lecturer in Medicine (academic, part-time), Harvard Medical School

1 Jul 2004 → …

Research area keywords

  • Circadian rhythms
  • Insomnia
  • Light
  • Melatonin
  • Shift work
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Loss
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sleepiness-related crashes
  • Fatigue
  • Mood Disorders
  • Depression
  • Cognitive Function


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