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Dr Catherine M Hill BM, MSc, PhD, MRCP, FRCPCH, ES

Associate Professor of Child Health, Honorary Consultant Paediatrician in Sleep Medicine

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Dr Catherine M Hill is an Associate Professor of Child Health within Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Her primary research interest is the effects of sleep related hypoxia in children. Her work has embraced several vulnerable populations including children with developmental disorders and those living at high altitude. She set up and leads the 2 bedded paediatric polysomnography sleep research laboratory within the Southampton NIHR Wellcome Trust clinical research facility.

All clinical patients undergoing sleep studies are invited to participate in research donating their biosignals to a research databank. Researchers interested to access this data are welcome to contact Dr Hill.

A number of parallel work streams are driven by her clinical work including the study of a rare sleep related movement disorder (rhythmic movement disorder) and the use of novel technologies for sleep assessment ‘beyond polysomnography’ including domiciliary cardiorespiratory studies, videosomnography and 3D video.

She leads a multi-disciplinary regional sleep disorder service within Southampton Children’s hospital

As part of her work she also leads a programme of training courses for sleep professionals attracting participants from across the UK and internationally. (www. and is regularly invited to teach and train in her field.

Dr Hill has promoted her work and the importance of sleep in children through media events including documentaries (BBC 1: One show; ITV documentary My child won’t sleep and ‘This Morning’; Channel 4 ‘Extreme Parenting Series 1’: BBC South today; BBC Panorama: Sleepless Britain; BBC Trust me I’m a Doctor.); radio appearances (including local BBC radio phone in shows) and articles in the national press.


BM – University of Southampton – 1987
MSc (dist) – University of Warwick – 2006
PhD – University of Southampton - 2018

MRCP - 1992

European Expert Somnologist – European Sleep Research Society 2015

Appointments held

1990-Clinical Research Fellow Cystic Fibrosis – Southampton University

1993- 1996 Wessex regional General Paediatric Core Training

1996-1998 – Neurology and Community Child Health training

1998 – 2014– Senior Lecturer in Community Child Health and Hon.Consultant Paediatrician Solent NHS Trust

2014 – Associate Professor of Child Health and Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Sleep Medicine Southampton Children’s Hospital

Affiliated appointments

External research associate, Department of Psychology University of Western Australia

Honorary Senior Lecturer, Institute of Education University College London

Research interests

Sleep physiology and neurocognition in childhood.

Early laboratory work in typically developing children with sleep disordered breathing demonstrated an association between altered cerebral blood flow velocity and measures of executive function. (British Sleep Society– new investigator award 2005). Disruptions in neurocognitive processes in this condition may relate to intermittent hypoxia, disruption of the continuity of the sleep process or a combination of both. Further exploration of these dimensions of executive function and sleep quality in larger populations of typically developing children by Simone Holley as part of a PhD thesis found an association between total time asleep and both executive function and behavioural measures. This work was the foundation for studies in vulnerable populations.

Sleep related hypoxia at altitude

Dr Hill led a comparative study of Andean children exposed to chronic hypoxia living at high altitude and lowland controls. (‘Development and Sleep at Altitude ‘DeSat’ study with co-PI Professor Romola Bucks UWA, Perth). This large field study of over 240 participants exploited a wide range of physiological measures including polysomnography within a mobile sleep laboratory, transcranial Doppler cerebral blood flow measures and psychological testing. Testing across a range of ages this study aimed to further understanding of the interplay between sleep quality, hypoxia and neurocognition from a developmental perspective. Further detailed exploration of the physiological signals from these data include the study of heart-rate variability at altitude and respiratory event related EEG change.

Sleep disordered breathing in children with developmental disabilities

Children with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy have a high prevalence of sleep disorders and may be particularly vulnerable to negative neurocognitive effects due to their limited cognitive reserve. Dr Hill has supervised a series of studies quantifying sleep disruption in such groups including population based studies of sleep problems and nocturnal sleep disordered breathing in children with Down syndrome (Best free paper prize. BACCH 2007), cerebral palsy, William’s syndrome and Autistic spectrum disorder. A doctoral thesis co-supervised with Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith (Birkbeck College, University College London) and Dr Dagmara Dimitriou (nee Annaz) (Institute of Education, University College London) focused on the novel study of sleep related memory consolidation in children with William’s syndrome and Down syndrome. She was subsequently lead investigator on a multi-centre study of over 200 young children with Down syndrome quantifying sleep disordered breathing and assessing approaches to screening for sleep apnoea in these children.

She is currently evaluating potential novel outcome measures for a treatment trial of obstructive sleep apnoea in Down syndrome including serum and urinary inflammatory markers and optical coherence tomography.

Sleep related rhythmic movement disorder

This rare and neglected disorder of sleep is a particular clinical interest. Recent work has included a published integrative review of the condition and an epidemiological study of prevalence of the disorder in pre-school children. Current work affiliated to Professor Peter Achermann at the Zurich sleep laboratory and Professor Robert Reiner’s group in ETH Zurich is piloting the use of vestibular stimulation in this population using the Somnomat rocking bed as well as studying the use of 3D video to quantify movements.

Beyond the sleep laboratory:  new approaches to monitoring sleep and its disorders in children

Dr Hill has undertaken detailed studies (both in the sleep lab and using home based respiratory monitoring) of children with severe motor impairment and Down syndrome. Through both this work and her field laboratory work at altitude she has developed her experience in home based sleep and respiratory monitoring technologies. She is currently studying novel applications of home 2D and 3D videosomnography to study sleep disorders in the home setting.

Previous work: Dr Hill’s earlier clinical work in adoption as a Hampshire Adoption Medical advisor and as Chair of the Health Group Advisory Committee of the British Association of Adoption and Fostering 2005-2010 led to an interest in the developmental consequences of early life trauma and neglect in childhood. As well as publishing many practice-based journal articles, chapters and original research studies in this field, she has presented evidence to the Department of Children Schools and Families Parliamentary Select Committee about the health of children in Public Care



Clinical and Experimental Sciences

Affiliate Department(s)

Respiratory and allergy Research group

Research project(s)

Application of Data Fusion techniques in identification of sub-clinical Polysomnographic events in children with Sleep Disordered Breathing

In collaboration with the Welcome Trust Children hospital in Southampton and the School of Medicine at Southampton University, we aim to study the effects of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) ins children and develop/improve methods for automatic detection of such abnormality.

Post-graduate student supervision
Current PhD

  • Rabya Mughal: Sleep, cognition and behaviour in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder co-supervised with Dr Dagmara Dimitriou. Institute of Education, UCL. Examined May 2020 -minor corrections
  • Samantha Hornsey: Management of children’s sleep disorders in primary care- starting September 2018

Past PhD

  • Simone Holley: Sleep quality as a mediator of neurocognitive function in children Graduated 2009
  • Anna Ashworth:  Sleep and memory consolidation in children with developmental disabilities co-supervised with Dr Dagmara Dimitriou. Institute of Education, UCL. Graduate 2013
  • Data fusion techniques to detect EEG arousal in paediatric sleep apnoea. Shayan Motamedi. Jointly with Professor Martyn Hill and Dr Mohammed Moshrefi-Torbati, Mechanical Engineering. Graduate 2014

Past clinical and educational psychology doctoral theses


  • Rachel Britchford, Sleep and ADHD
  • Amy Savage. Novelty responses in infants with congenital heart disease


  • James Wood, Investigation into the relationship between sleep quality and daytime school performance
  • Elizabeth Smith. Social stories to manage bedtime resistance in young school aged children


  • Sharon McKenzie: An exploration of the physiological arousal in young adolescent girls who report elevated anxiety and show school refusal behaviour
  • Katie Longstreet. Evaluation of a School-Based Sleep Education Programme for Adolescents

Past MMedSc thesis supervision

  • Rachel Parker: Respiratory function in children with cerebral palsy using sleep systems. 1st class honours 2007
  • Emily Gogo: Population based prevalence of rhythmic movement disorder. 1st class honours 2016
  • Lorna Glabraith: Home videosomnography to assess behavioural insomnia in child brain tumour survivors. 1st class honours 2018.

Current Faculty responsibilities

  • Chair of the Faculty of Medicine Ethics Committee (2013-2020)
  • Member of the Southampton Research Biorepository strategic oversight committee (since 2014)
  • Member of the Southampton Research Biorepository access committee  (since 2015)
  • Health professional representative Governance board of University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service

National responsibilities

  • SPARKS medical charity – grant review committee 2010-14
  • British Paediatric Sleep Association research lead from March 2017
  • Chief Medical Officer expert working group: 24 hours sleep and movement behaviour guidelines for under 5s (January 2018-present)
  • Clinical advisor to Kleine Levin Syndrome support UK

International responsibilities

  • Chair of Organising Committee of the 3rd International Paediatric Sleep Association Congress 2012
  • Member of the Pediatric Sleep Council – an international expert advisory website since 2017
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Personal tutor to undergraduate medical students

BM5 and BM4 programme

Dr Hill delivers lectures to Year 2 students about ethics and research governance

Year 3 study in depth

 Since 2000 I have supervised over 25 BMedSc and Year 3 student projects

  • 6 have been awarded the Cow and Gate prize for the best paediatric project
  • 3 have been awarded RCPCH student prizes
  • 1 was awarded a Wellcome Trust studentship
  • 1 was awarded the Southampton Neuroscience Group undergraduate prize 2016

The majority of students achieve authorship of a peer reviewed publication and/or conference presentation. Please contact Dr Hill if you are interested in undertaking a research study in a paediatric sleep related topic.

Dr Catherine M Hill
Faculty of Medicine, Room AB215, Mailpoint 801, South Academic Block, University Hospital Southampton, Tremona Road, Southampton, SO16 6YD

Room Number: SGH/CG78/MP803

Telephone:(023) 8120 6091

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