Dr Isabel Morales-Muñoz PhD

Dr Isabel Morales-Muñoz

Assistant Professor in Psychology
Institute for Mental Health

Dr Isabel Morales-Muñoz is Assistant Professor in Psychology based at the Institute for Mental Health, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham. Her main area of research is to investigate risk factors for youth mental health, with a special focus on investigating the role of sleep problems in the development of mental health problems. Her current work is mainly focused on secondary data analyses (e.g. birth cohort studies, such as ALSPAC, Millennium cohort), but she has also expertise in using different scientific methods, including clinical assessments, neuropsychological testing and ERP assessments.


BSc in Psychology (University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain, 2007)

MSc in Cognitive Neuropsychology (Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain, 2009)

MSc in Psychopathology and Health (National University of Distance Education, Spain, 2012)

PhD in Neuroscience (Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain, 2014)


Dr Morales-Muñoz was born in Vitoria, Spain. She has a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, from the University of Deusto, Bilbao (Spain). In 2009 she completed her MSc in Cognitive Neuopsychology at the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), and in 2012 her MSc in Psychopathology and Health at the National University of Distance Education (Spain). Her PhD was in the neuropsychological and neurophysiological bases of cognitive disorders in First Episode Psychosis, and was completed in 2014, at the Complutense University of Madrid.

After completing her PhD, she joined the University of Helsinki (Finland) as postdoctoral fellow, and subsequently in 2016, she joined the National Institute for Health and Welfare, in Helsinki, as postdoctoral fellow. In April 2018, she was awarded the Academy of Finland postdoctoral research fellow, to investigate sleep development in early childhood and the links between sleep and neurodevelopmental and mental health problems in children. In June 2022, she joined the School of Psychology as Assistant Professor, after spending 4 years as honorary research fellow at the Institute for Mental Health, at the University of Birmingham.


Dr Morales-Muñoz is interested in supervising MSc and PhD projects. Potential students can contact her at I.Morales-Munoz@bham.ac.uk.


Research interests

  • Sleep and mental health
  • Sleep and neurodevelopmental disorders (ADHD)
  • Sleep development
  • Early life risk factors for youth mental health
  • Birth cohort studies
  • Epidemiology
  • Neuropsychology and psychosis

Dr Morales-Muñoz conducts research investigating risk factors for the development of mental health problems (e.g. psychosis, anxiety, depression) in young people. More specifically, her current line of research focuses on investigating the role of sleep problems in the development of youth mental health problems. To do this, she uses longitudinal birth cohort studies and data science approaches. Further, she aims to investigate the underlying mechanisms of the associations between sleep and mental health problems, such as brain mechanisms or inflammatory markers. The ultimately aim of her research is to design sleep intervention programs to improve youth mental health.

Other activities

Dr Morales-Muñoz is the Co-Chair of the Midlands Sleep Group (MSG): https://www.midlandssleepgroup.org/


Highlight publications

Morales-Munoz, I, Broome, M & Marwaha, S 2020, 'Association of parent-reported sleep problems in early childhood with psychotic and borderline personality disorder symptoms in adolescence', JAMA psychiatry, vol. 77, no. 12, e201875, pp. 1256-1265. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.1875

Morales-Muñoz, I, Upthegrove, R, Lawrence, K, Thayakaran, R, Kooij, S, Gregory, AM & Marwaha, S 2023, 'The role of inflammation in the prospective associations between early childhood sleep problems and ADHD at 10 years: findings from a UK birth cohort study', Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13755

Morales-Munoz, I, Palmer, E, Mallikarjun, P, Marwaha, S & Upthegrove, R 2021, 'Persistent childhood and adolescent anxiety and risk for psychosis: a longitudinal birth cohort study', Biological Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.12.003

Morales-Muñoz, I, Upthegrove, R, Mallikarjun, PK, Broome, MR & Marwaha, S 2021, 'Longitudinal associations between cognitive deficits in childhood and psychopathological symptoms in adolescence and young adulthood', JAMA network open, vol. 4, no. 4, e214724. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.4724

Morales-Munoz, I, Ashdown-Doel, B, Beazley, E, Carr, C, Preece, C & Marwaha, S 2022, 'Maternal postnatal depression and anxiety and the risk for mental health disorders in adolescent offspring: findings from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children cohort', Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, pp. 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1177/00048674221082519

Recent publications


Morales-Muñoz, I, Mallikarjun, PK, Chandan, JS, Thayakaran, R, Upthegrove, R & Marwaha, S 2023, 'Impact of anxiety and depression across childhood and adolescence on adverse outcomes in young adulthood: a UK birth cohort study', British Journal of Psychiatry , pp. 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2023.23

Morales‐muñoz, I, Hett, D, Humpston, C, Mallikarjun, PK & Marwaha, S 2022, 'Anxiety disorders across middle childhood and early adolescence in a UK population‐based cohort', JCPP Advances. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcv2.12089

Qiu, J & Morales-Muñoz, I 2022, 'Associations between Sleep and Mental Health in Adolescents: Results from the UK Millennium Cohort Study', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 19, no. 3, 1868. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031868

Huhdanpää, H, Morales-Muñoz, I, Aronen, ET, Pölkki, P, Saarenpää-Heikkilä, O, Kylliäinen, A & Paavonen, EJ 2021, 'Prenatal and Postnatal Predictive Factors for Children's Inattentive and Hyperactive Symptoms at 5 Years of Age: The Role of Early Family-related Factors', Child psychiatry and human development, vol. 52, no. 5, pp. 783-799. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-020-01057-7

Morales-Muñoz, I, Kantojärvi, K, Uhre, V-M, Saarenpää-Heikkilä, O, Kylliäinen, A, Pölkki, P, Himanen, S-L, Karlsson, L, Karlsson, H, Paavonen, EJ & Paunio, T 2021, 'The Effects of Genetic Background for Diurnal Preference on Sleep Development in Early Childhood', Nature and science of sleep, vol. 13, pp. 219-228. https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S287163

Paavonen, EJ, Morales-Muñoz, I, Pölkki, P, Paunio, T, Porkka-Heiskanen, T, Kylliäinen, A, Partonen, T & Saarenpää-Heikkilä, O 2020, 'Development of sleep-wake rhythms during the first year of age', Journal of Sleep Research, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. e12918. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12918

Paavonen, EJ, Saarenpää-heikkilä, O, Morales-Muñoz, I, Virta, M, Häkälä, N, Pölkki, P, Kylliäinen, A, Karlsson, H, Paunio, T & Karlsson, L 2020, 'Normal sleep development in infants: findings from two large birth cohorts', Sleep Medicine, vol. 69, pp. 145-154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2020.01.009

Morales-Muñoz, I, Lemola, S, Saarenpää-Heikkilä, O, Kylliäinen, A, Pölkki, P, Paunio, T, Broome, MR & Paavonen, EJ 2020, 'Parent-reported early sleep problems and internalising, externalising and dysregulation symptoms in toddlers', BMJ Paediatrics Open, vol. 4, no. 1, e000622, pp. 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjpo-2019-000622

Morales-Muñoz, I, Nolvi, S, Virta, M, Karlsson, H, Paavonen, EJ & Karlsson, L 2020, 'The longitudinal associations between temperament and sleep during the first year of life', Infant Behavior and Development, vol. 61, pp. 101485. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2020.101485

Tuohino, T, Morales-Muñoz, I, Saarenpää-Heikkilä, O, Kiviruusu, O, Paunio, T, Hovi, P, Pietiläinen, KH & Paavonen, EJ 2019, 'Short Sleep Duration and Later Overweight in Infants', The Journal of pediatrics, vol. 212, pp. 13-19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2019.05.041

Huhdanpää, H, Morales-Muñoz, I, Aronen, ET, Pölkki, P, Saarenpää-Heikkilä, O, Paunio, T, Kylliäinen, A & Paavonen, EJ 2019, 'Sleep Difficulties in Infancy Are Associated with Symptoms of Inattention and Hyperactivity at the Age of 5 Years: A Longitudinal Study', Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics , vol. 40, no. 6, pp. 432-440. https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0000000000000684

Morales-Muñoz, I, Partonen, T, Saarenpää-Heikkilä, O, Kylliäinen, A, Pölkki, P, Porkka-Heiskanen, T, Paunio, T & Paavonen, EJ 2019, 'The role of parental circadian preference in the onset of sleep difficulties in early childhood', Sleep Medicine, vol. 54, pp. 223-230. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2018.10.039

Morales-Muñoz, I, Koskinen, S & Partonen, T 2018, 'Differences in sleep functioning between individuals with seasonal affective disorder and major depressive disorder in Finland', Sleep Medicine, vol. 48, pp. 16-22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2018.04.003

Morales-Muñoz, I, Saarenpää-Heikkilä, O, Kylliäinen, A, Pölkki, P, Porkka-Heiskanen, T, Paunio, T & Paavonen, EJ 2018, 'The effects of maternal risk factors during pregnancy on the onset of sleep difficulties in infants at 3 months old', Journal of Sleep Research, vol. 27, no. 5, pp. e12696. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12696

Review article

Morales-Muñoz, I, Durdurak, BB, Bilgin, A, Marwaha, S & Winsper, C 2021, 'Understanding the relationship between sleep problems in early childhood and borderline personality disorder: a narrative review', Nature and science of sleep, vol. 13, pp. 2175-2202. https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S311672

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