Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders

Course No. 1942
Professor H. Craig Heller, Ph.D.
Stanford University
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Course No. 1942
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Course Overview

For many of us, sleep is one of life’s greatest pleasures. For others, sleep represents a nightly struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, rest comfortably, and even remain safe until morning. But what is sleep exactly, and why must we do it every night?

Despite the fact that we spend about one-third of our lives in slumber, scientists still aren’t completely certain. Finding the function of sleep is one of the biggest—and most intriguing—challenges facing biologists today.

What is clear: Sleep is as essential to life as food and water. It impacts virtually every aspect of our lives, from our mood to the functioning of our organs, and it contributes to learning and memory, better performance at work, and a more healthy and productive wakeful life overall.

A lack of sleep impairs your cognitive abilities, exacerbates or leads to psychological problems, and leaves you vulnerable to a long list of chronic medical issues. And the consequences of too little sleep extend beyond the personal. From causing auto accidents to factoring into major disasters such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill, sleep deprivation imposes a heavy toll on society.

Clearly, there’s tremendous value in studying sleep that goes far beyond mere fascination. Educating yourself on the subject may, without exaggeration, save your life or the life of someone you love. The frightening reality is that dire consequences can develop after only a few days of inadequate sleep.

Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders is your opportunity to access groundbreaking research on the complex and enigmatic phenomenon of sleep, straight from a scientist at the forefront of the field. In these 24 engrossing lectures, award-winning Stanford University professor and researcher H. Craig Heller reveals how far neuroscientists and biologists have come on their quest to pinpoint the principal functions of sleep—which remain a matter of intense debate.

Understand Why Sleep Debts Must Be Paid

Early on in this course, you’ll learn that your brain forces you to fall asleep to repay an accumulated sleep deficit—no matter how dangerous the circumstances. You’ll also learn the myriad ways sleep loss is associated with increased risk for serious health problems such as

  • obesity,
  • diabetes,
  • depression, and
  • reduced resistance to infectious disease.

Backed by compelling scientific evidence, Professor Heller illuminates what happens in the sleeping brain all the way down to the cellular and molecular level. You’ll investigate what biological changes may be produced by wakefulness and reversed during sleep, in addition to

  • the catastrophic ways our circadian clocks can fail;
  • coping mechanisms for jet lag, shift work, and insomnia;
  • disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome;
  • parasomnias such as sleepwalking, night terrors, and sleep-related eating disorder; and
  • how proper “sleep hygiene” can help you improve your own quality of sleep.

You’ll also examine the critical role sleep plays in our capacity to form memories, and you’ll encounter astounding animal research that ranges from studies of aquatic mammals that sleep with half of their brains at a time to the deep sleep of hibernation in squirrels and bears.

Discover the Architecture of Sleep

Widespread interest in sleep goes back to ancient times, yet the study of sleep is relatively new. In fact, the first insights into the physiology of sleep didn’t occur until 1929, when the electroencephalograph was developed to monitor patterns of electrical activity in the brain.

As Professor Heller explains, these EEG recordings allowed scientists to identify REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM states that are the defining features of sleep. You’ll explore both REM and non-REM sleep in depth, including how they cycle throughout the night.

  • Non-REM sleep EEG recordings show a high-amplitude, slow-wave pattern indicating that large populations of neurons are firing in synchrony.
  • REM sleep, frequently called “dreaming sleep,” creates a low-amplitude, fast pattern similar to a waking EEG.

Then, using basic concepts of electricity, you’ll look at the cellular and molecular mechanisms of falling asleep, the many discrete brain structures involved in the control of sleep and wakefulness, and the homeostatic regulation that matches sleep intensity to need.

You’ll trace how your all-important circadian rhythms emerge shortly after birth but continue to change over the course of your lifetime, and you’ll get an introduction to the neuroanatomy and neurochemistry of sleep, including how medications and other factors influence sleep.

Secrets of Sleep Science also features a thought-provoking lecture on the physiology of what may be the least-understood aspect of sleep: dreaming. Taking into consideration the Freudian and Jungian theories on the topic as well as the latest research, you’ll sift through

  • the possible functions of dreams;
  • the notion that dreams hold meaning;
  • anecdotal evidence suggesting dreams inspire creativity;
  • why you only sometimes remember your dreams; and
  • why dream amnesia may be crucial to maintaining mental health.

Why Sleep Goes Awry

From sleepy sickness to the rare fatal familial insomnia, sleep pathologies and disorders are among the most fascinating—and often heartbreaking—topics you’ll cover in Secrets of Sleep Science. You may find the information on identifying and treating sleep apnea of particular value, as you or your partner may snore and repeatedly struggle to breathe during sleep without even realizing it.

Professor Heller also offers simple behavioral methods to conquer bouts of insomnia and outlines possible treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, which frequently involves incessant, extreme nightmares that feel all too real.

In the latter half of the course, you’ll get the opportunity to learn about the professor’s own research, which suggests a promising link between sleep-related systems and the cognitive impairment associated with Down syndrome.

A Remarkable Learning Experience

Professor Heller’s first-hand experiments, astute analysis, and obvious passion for the study of sleep make him the ideal guide for this riveting subject. Not only does he elucidate the most up-to-date findings and ideas this field has to offer, but, as a researcher and veteran educator, he possesses the experience and authority to offer his own expert interpretations.

Both seasoned students of biology and those with a casual appreciation for science will find Secrets of Sleep Science filled with astonishing insights. If you’ve ever wondered why we say “sleep like a baby”; why adolescents find it so hard to get up for school; or why your grandfather dozes in his chair during the day but complains of being unable to sleep at night; this is the course for you.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Sweet Sleep—Essential for a Healthy Life
    Professor Heller introduces you to the many consequences of short or disrupted sleep, along with accounts of medical mistakes and large-scale disasters likely to have occurred due to sleep deprivation. Contemplate our “National Sleep Deficit” and learn the professor’s hypothesis for the purpose of sleep, which science has yet to fully explain. x
  • 2
    What Is Sleep?
    Given the long-standing interest in sleep, why is the science of sleep so relatively new? As you identify the defining features of sleep as a foundation for later lectures, you explore the tools researchers use to study sleep patterns and what experiments have taught us about the key characteristics of REM and non-REM sleep, including dreams. x
  • 3
    Sleep across the Night
    Examine hypnograms that show how the various stages of REM and non-REM sleep cycle throughout the night. Then, find out how the REM and non-REM sleep states relate, how they change throughout the sleep phase, and why the brain may create changes in sleep intensity to help you “pay back” a sleep deficit. x
  • 4
    Sleep across the Lifespan
    Is there a biological basis for the sleep changes that commonly occur over a person’s lifespan? Learn how your brain’s circadian rhythms regulate sleep, then compare the sleep patterns of precocial and altricial species. Discover the disorders that can impair the restorative quality of sleep and problems associated with sleeping too much. x
  • 5
    Who in the World Sleeps?
    There are thousands of animal species in the world. Do they all have the same need to sleep as we do? Learn the three basic characteristics of sleep that can generally be applied to animals, then investigate the sleep patterns of various species, including migratory birds, arthropods, monotremes, and marine mammals that are able to sleep on only one side of their brains at a time. x
  • 6
    The Timing of Sleep
    In the first of two lectures on understanding the clock in your brain and how it controls virtually every aspect of physiology and behavior, you’ll learn the essential characteristics of circadian rhythms and how working against your clock can result in health and performance problems. Investigate phase advances and delays related to jet lag and shift work. x
  • 7
    The Wheels of the Circadian Clock
    As you turn to the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the characteristics of circadian rhythms, the professor offers a basic lesson in molecular genetics before discussing “clock genes” and how they can constitute a negative feedback system with a delay in the feedback loop. x
  • 8
    The Deep Sleep of Hibernators
    Hibernation is an adaptation that enables some warm-blooded animals to turn down their thermostats for spans of hours to months in an effort to conserve energy. In the first of two lectures that explore the neural systems that control sleep and wakefulness, investigate the evolutionary explanations for and mechanisms of hibernation in squirrels and bears, as well as daily torpor in birds. x
  • 9
    The Neuroanatomy and Neurochemistry of Sleep
    Many discrete structures in the brain are involved in the control of sleep and wakefulness. Delve into neuroanatomy and neurochemistry, which are necessary to understand how and why we sleep, and how medications and other factors influence sleep. Grasp the significance of discoveries by Giuseppe Moruzzi, Constantin von Economo, and others through an in-depth examination of sleep pathologies. x
  • 10
    The Neurophysiology of Sleep
    Go a step further in discovering the cellular function of non-REM sleep by identifying the cellular changes produced by wakefulness and reversed during sleep, and investigating the processes underlying the generation of slow-wave activity on the EEG. Learn about the fundamental principles of electrical circuits as you explore how a neuron functions like a tiny battery. x
  • 11
    Sleep Disorders—Narcolepsy
    Narcolepsy is an incurable neurological disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, disrupted nighttime sleep, bizarre hallucinations at sleep onset, and cataplexy. Analyze research exploring the possibility of a genetic component to this disorder in humans and canines, and learn what medications and other treatments are available to manage it. x
  • 12
    The Strange World of Dreams
    What are dreams and what do they mean? Examine Freudian-Jungian psychoanalytic theory and methods relating to the unconscious as well as scientific hypotheses for the occurrence of dreams. Consider the therapeutic potential of “lucid dreaming” for treating nightmares in post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers and the possibility that dreaming may enhance our ability to be creative. x
  • 13
    Functions of Sleep—Fueling the Brain
    In the first of several lectures that explore hypotheses on the function of sleep, focus on the idea that sleep is for the restoration of brain energy reserves that are depleted during periods of wakefulness. Analyze the relationship between sleep and glycogen metabolism, as well as the molecule adenosine. x
  • 14
    The Timing and Function of REM Sleep
    Why do non-REM and REM cycle, with non-REM always first? Why is non-REM sleep deeper early in the night? Delve into the fundamental relationship between non-REM and REM and question the common assumption that the need for sleep builds during wakefulness. Extend your analysis into a hypothesis about the basic function of REM sleep. x
  • 15
    Sleep and Learning—Procedural Memory
    In studying the interactions between sleep and the stages of procedural memory—including encoding, consolidation, stabilization, reactivation, and reconsolidation—you’ll focus on experiments that seek to identify which type of sleep contributes to the consolidation of procedural memories and whether this effect can be exploited to maximize learning. x
  • 16
    Sleep and Declarative Memory
    Turn now to declarative memory and the ways that sleep impacts our capacity to form and integrate conscious memories and improves our ability to use the facts we remember. Explore hypotheses about memory consolidation, reactivation, and reconsolidation by analyzing a working model of two-step memory processes involving the hippocampus and cortex. x
  • 17
    Sleep and Memory in Animals
    For both humans and animals, sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation and therefore, learning. Focus on evidence that sleep promotes structural changes in the nervous system, then move on to the neurophysiological processes of memory consolidation. Conclude by looking at factors that can disrupt the sleep-related functions required for learning and memory. x
  • 18
    Sleep and Learning Disability
    Using your understanding of how sleep is critically involved in learning and memory, explore whether an underlying cause for learning disabilities may be related to sleep systems or mechanisms, and whether they offer a route to a therapy. Consider the potential for improving learning and memory in individuals with Down syndrome, specifically. x
  • 19
    When You Cannot Sleep—Insomnia
    Move on from lectures exploring how we “sleep to learn” to the first of several lectures concerned with “learning to sleep.” Differentiate between primary and secondary insomnias as you identify some of the major causes of sleep disruption, and confront the consequences suffered by those who delay sleep—both intentionally and unintentionally. x
  • 20
    Sleep Apnea
    Sleep apnea is a major cause of insomnia, yet it’s often misdiagnosed. First, touch on central sleep apnea in infants and sudden infant death syndrome, then delve into the causes, signs, consequences, and treatments associated with obstructive sleep apnea—the most common form of the disorder in adults. x
  • 21
    Behavior during Sleep—Parasomnias
    Make sense of various types of parasomnias—undesirable behaviors or phenomena that occur predominantly or exclusively during sleep—including sleep walking, sleep-related eating disorder, night terrors, periodic limb movement, sleep paralysis, and sexsomnia. Then, consider how the legal principle of mens rea applies to sleepwalkers who have allegedly committed heinous crimes. x
  • 22
    Sleep and the Rest of the Body
    Return to a question posed in the lecture on sleep in the animal kingdom: Why take the brain off-line during sleep if the function of sleep is not for the brain? Look at experiments studying the effects of sleep loss on rats as you investigate sleep’s role in a range of physiological processes. Then, see how shortened sleep contributes to obesity and immune system failure in humans. x
  • 23
    Improving Sleep
    How can you improve your quality of sleep? Start by delving into the efficacy and potential dangers of various pharmaceutical solutions to the problem of insomnia, including herbal remedies such as kava-kava and chamomile tea; barbiturates; benzodiazepines; caffeine; and amphetamines. Then, look at the nonpharmaceutical approaches of good sleep hygiene and cognitive behavioral therapy. x
  • 24
    Sleep in the Future and the Future of Sleep
    Will we ever fully comprehend the function of sleep? See how sleep and treatment for sleep problems might change in years to come, and consider how continuing progress in understanding sleep’s role in learning and memory processes may enhance education and hold therapeutic potential for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. x

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Your professor

H. Craig Heller

About Your Professor

H. Craig Heller, Ph.D.
Stanford University
Dr. H. Craig Heller is the Lorry I. Lokey/Business Wire Professor of Biological Sciences and Human Biology at Stanford University. He earned his Ph.D. in Biology from Yale University. Over the past three to four decades, virtually all biology undergraduates at Stanford have learned physiology from Professor Heller. In recognition of his outstanding performance, he received the Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in...
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Reviews

Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 59.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous Course for EVERYONE!!! This is an excellent overview of the many aspects of sleep, including dreams, memory, apnea, and all health aspects. It is very easy to listen to, even though some of it is very medical. Dr Heller really knows the topic, but is very humble in presenting work of others in this area. Since we all sleep about 1/3 of our lives, this is good for all of us and essentially to anyone who has sleep issues, which is a huge part of the population.
Date published: 2017-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding course!! Dr. Heller takes a complex subject, walks you through the scientific research of sleep and then ties it all together for how it effects you. While I was not necessarily looking for a molecular-biology basis at first, it became apparent that it was necessary so I could understand why and how sleep effects not only the brain but every one of our other systems - immune, digestive for weight, etc. While some folks may not be looking for such detail, it is absolutely necessary and Dr. Heller explains in lay terms how it all comes together. This is a powerful course.
Date published: 2017-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sleep and Sleeping A fascinating and intriguing course well taught and presented. the visuals, videos and animations were excellent. Recommended.
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Why People Need Sleep Prof Heller notes: “An animal is most vulnerable to predators when it is asleep. Why would evolution favor taking the brain offline…unless it were absolutely necessary?” Good question and why you need to consider this offering. Sleep literature is usually either too simplistic or narrowly focused to be of any use. Heller is different. He first describes sleep staging in updated essays covering sleep definitions, patterns across a normal night, and then across the lifespan. I loved his comments on teenage surliness secondary to a biological delayed sleep time…I’m now on board for starting HS at 9 am.! There are lots on the effects of sleep as we age. There are sections on animal sleep. You’ll find out why blind people need dark glasses to avoid losing circadian entrainment. Hibernators: who would expected how unique squirrels are? The sections on sleep disorders and dreams are very interesting. Sleep quality is discussed. The functions of REM and non-REM sleep vs various memory functions and the role neuronal regrowth are extremely well presented. There is a very hopeful “currently in research” therapy [as of 2013] for improving learning in Down’s. Insomnia, sleep apnea, and improving sleep sections are better than average. The parasomnia and sleep deprivation sections are very good. There are several chapters on neuroanatomy & neurochemistry that would be difficult without a medical/pharmacology background. Sections on fueling the brain are manageable, but sections describing “transcription/translation negative feedback mechanisms with delayed feedback loops” may be a bit much for some. COMMENTS: Heller makes a major point of cellular/intercellular biochemistry and signaling, but completely misses the 3-body problem: i.e., just having cellular mechanisms is insufficient for a cell to work. The difficulty is that there are no Newtonian solutions to 3 bodies moving dynamically [“Impossible: Physics Beyond the Edge”, Schumacher, Kenyon College] and this applies to biochemistry. Heller thus leaves the impression that we understand more than we do because he leaves out the fact that we don’t understand how any of this could work in 3D, real-time. It’s not just genes, boys and girls; there is an infinitely more complex organization at work. In fact, a recent book [“Chemical Theory beyond the Born-Oppenheimer Paradigm”, Feb 2015] describes the need for a revolutionary look at dynamic chemistry.
Date published: 2016-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just what the Dr Ordered A bit technical so I had to go over a couple of the videos more than once but the video laid down an excellent foundation to understand the subject. Quite please.
Date published: 2016-10-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Could not get through it I have completed over 50 courses from the great courses, and this was only the second one I could not complete. Why? It's just too technical, relying on very advanced concepts in chemistry and biology. Unless one is an advanced science student, you won't get anything from this course. The first few lectures are informative, but then the professor starts using terms that are barely explained, not trying in the least to make them understandable to an ordinary adult learner. Possibly if I had seen this in video, with diagrams on the board, it would be a little easier, but listening in the car, I was completely lost. My wife and I could not take it any more, none of it made any sense, and it was just not enjoyable.
Date published: 2016-06-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Should Have Been Twelve Lectures The instructor's presentation was very good, but most of the time was spent on scientific studies. I would have been much happier, if he had summarized the studies or at least limited them. In one of the latter lectures, he mentioned that students might have to listen to some lectures more than once and possibly do some outside reading. That is not the purpose of my listening to these courses. I want to understand most of what I hear, if not all. I listen, for the most part, while driving or doing exercises. Consequently, the course is not what I was expecting.
Date published: 2016-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb An excellent course. I felt that the level of neurochemistry and neuroscience were appropriate to the subject matter.
Date published: 2016-02-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting course There was a lot of information in this course. The professor sometimes went into a lot of detail and there were a few sections that I needed to replay to fully understand. Overall, it was interesting and it gave me new perspective on sleep.
Date published: 2015-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heavy on the Science but Some Practical Advice The title of this course is Secrets of Sleep Science, and the professor means it. The course is heavy on science, with anatomy, chemistry, and physics discussed in detail. This will make the course inappropriate for many people. (Can you imagine a discussion of REM sleep in armadillos? That's in here.) The professor also talks about hibernation, a peculiar form of sleep. , and about circadian rhythm and its importance to sleep. On the other hand, there is much generally useful stuff, such as advice on coping with jet lag and shift work. I found his discussion of narcolepsy of special interest, as my neighbor has it. There are some amusing nuggets, such as the suggestion to Google Rube Goldberg; everyone of my generation knows his story, but today's generation probably has never heard of him. I also enjoyed his "relax your ears" advice when discussing how to fall asleep. The bibliography runs 11 pages, a thorough compilation. Indeed, the course book is wonderfully thorough, worth hanging on to. In sum, a choice course for scientists but with sections that can profit anyone.
Date published: 2015-07-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not for Everyone, But Very In-depth For those purchasing this course, expecting it to be a "how to sleep better" course, the course will not match your expectations. While this is an element of the course (with the 23rd of 24 lectures being devoted to this topic), the majority of the course is a very technical explanation of the neurology of sleep, better suited for the student interested in the workings of the brain, the function of brain chemicals, and the similarities and difference in biology between humans and animals when it comes to sleep. That's not to suggest that the material isn't interesting, quite the contrary. But as some other reviews point out, the exploration of these topics go beyond what most persons viewing this course think they are getting or are looking for. Having said that, Dr. Craig Heller is extremely knowledgeable on the subject of sleep science. He approaches the topic in a very methodical fashion, on a quest for what may be the holy grail for sleep scientists: what is the purpose of sleep, and why is it so essential for human beings? Along the way he addresses some very interesting subjects including the relationship between sleep and memory, circadian rhythms, REM sleep, sleep disorders and behaviour during sleep (or parasomnias). I found the latter subject very interesting, as well as the lecture on dreams. There is an especially interesting lecture about how studies in the science of sleep have led to advancements in the understanding of Down Syndrome. The difficulty with this course is that it is geared towards the student with a background or aptitude for a deeper understanding of the workings of the human brain. I had difficulty in grasping or retaining these explanations of the workings of the various components of the brain, especially when these complicated concepts were revisited in subsequent lectures. Despite this, on the whole, I found this to be a very interesting course, even if I felt like one of the less-gifted students in the class. Another caveat is that there is a lot of discussion in this course about experiments on animals. If you are disturbed by hearing about animal testing, I would not recommend this course. While I feel I have acquired much more new knowledge from this course, I would not recommend it for everyone, especially not for the student without much interest in the workings of the brain or the student seeking simple answers on the subject of sleep..
Date published: 2015-04-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Excruciating Detail Perhaps I have not gotten far enough into the course, but for now I can say that I did not want so much minute detail, that is down to the cellular level, on the brains of small mammals. Perhaps it is background for what is to follow, but I fear I will never finish the course.
Date published: 2015-03-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Science great. Useable or practical no. Very disappointed. Lab results are not useful in helping with sleep. 23 of the 24 tapes were useless and a repeat of basically same sleep studies on laboratory animals. Nothing to help with sleep.
Date published: 2015-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Improve Your Sleep: Science and Medicine I learned a lot from this course. For several decades I had severe insomnia that is now mostly under control. This course is the Science of sleep, not the philosophy, metaphysical, spiritual, deep psychological, mythological, etc of sleep. It's viewpoint is that of the American Medical Association (AMA)...which is OK as long as you understand where this course is directed. If you want the non-science of sleep, there are CDs at other websites such as the "Yoga of Sleep". The course deals a lot with the findings of animal research with many of the experiments being torture of the animals. For instance, they completely deprive rats of sleep until they die which takes 16-21 days. Not mentioned in this course, but the same is done to cats and dogs in the name of science, which I think is cruel. I know. I have been tormented by insomnia in the past. The professor is compassionate towards humans in research and those with sleep disorders but is insensitive to the plight of the research animals. A more advanced society would find a way to learn about sleep without having to torture. The professor does a very good job of presenting the information. The course is well organized and interesting. If you have a sleep problem, you can learn about possible reasons why you have it and ways of treating it. It covers ideas for helping shift workers and jet lag. It explains about sleep medicine and sleep studies done at a doctor's office to diagnose people's problems. It covers ways of treating sleep apnea. It is biased in some areas such as saying herbal medicines are not helpful for sleep. I use herbs for sleeping and know they can help. But this is an AMA-based course and that is their official position. There's plenty on the internet and in books about how herbs can help sleep. I agree with the professor that our society does not put enough attention on helping people to sleep properly. We are almost obsessed with nutrition, but little attention is given to sleep. Every child and adult should have knowledge about basic sleep functions such as deep sleep and REM and how to have the best sleep possible. This course will help you do that.
Date published: 2015-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very interesting--should be read by those who have shift workers in their business. interesting that mistakes are made in the nursing / medical settings & are not the fault of the person-everyone should be made to work all nite shifts to understand just how hard it is & a differential should be paid.
Date published: 2015-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Course might put you to sleep but in a GOOD way. Dr. Heller presents sleep science from the ground up with varying degrees of complexity but always with useful explanations so even the lay-person can understand the concepts and benefit from Heller's vast knowledge and experience. I knew considerably less about the subject than I ever thought and after taking the course, I'm by no means an expert, but I have a much greater understanding of the value of sleep to the mind and body and the physiology involved, and the ethical and moral issues with the scientific approach to learning more about sleep deficits and long term effects. Sleep is SO MUCH MORE than just nodding off at the end of the day. Dr. Heller crams several years of university study into just 24 lectures. This is a course that I will watch again and I highly recommend it to all minds that wish to know more about themselves. Well done Dr. Heller.
Date published: 2015-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Everyone should listen to at least the first few This is an excellent course and Heller is impressive in both knowledge and the imparting of that knowledge. Some of the lectures are very technical and hard to slog through but just listen and absorb because the course as a whole is very much worth the time. I think sleep is one of the most underrated health issues.
Date published: 2015-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth the effort to learn how to sleep I bought this course with the intent to learn: 1. what normal sleep was supposed to be like, 2. assorted causes for really bad sleep, and 3. to find some possible solutions to get myself back to "normal". I have been tired for a long time. From reading other reviews, I was concerned at the level of the content, but read one review that convinced me to buy it anyway, for which I am grateful. The first few lectures are quite straight forward (answered my question #1 and part of #2 already). Don't get bogged down trying to memorize the big words; just get the concepts. The professor explains the meanings clearly. The guidebook may seem a bit daunting, like a textbook, but it is a good supplement for seeing those definitions or charts again. A good quality dictionary would also help. The material does get heavier in lecture 5 and some memory of high school biology experiments and terms comes in handy, but the concepts are still clearly explained and you should have no problem understanding the outcome of the experiments that were mentioned, even if you can't picture the experiment itself. I haven't completed the course yet (I usually take a long time to do that) but felt it was important to tell you the content and presentation are excellent so far, and I believe that not having a degree in biology (or applied microbiology, as I do) should not be a reason to avoid the course. I don't know all of the bio terms either, and I am still finding the answers that I need.
Date published: 2014-12-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Fantastic instructor, material not practical First, I would like to say that this instructor is outstanding. I have listened to or watched numerous Great Courses and all were good, but this instructor was the best. However, for anyone not involved in sleep research, this course was far too deep for most. I have a degree in molecular biology so could follow along somewhat, but those not specifically trained in these areas would be lost quickly. I had hoped to learn about more practical and useful information. I do not recommend this course to the layman.
Date published: 2014-12-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Too Advanced. This class is far too advanced. It probably would be a fine course for someone who majored in microbiology. The professor made little effort get beyond the technical jargon and explain the science to the listener. Try lecture 9 for example and see if you can retain anything from it. I stopped watching this after lecture 12 and this is only the second great course out of 25 that I failed to complete.
Date published: 2014-11-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Way too technical for interested person Way too technical in covering what I wanted out of the course. I wanted to understand sleep disorders and solutions - not the highly technical reason why the brain works the way it does. The technical stuff did not add anything to his discussion in the last few chapter on solutions. This course would be good for a college or technical student who was just getting into sleep disorders BUT NOT for the average consumer. I suggest you rethink the title, the audience and the content. Best wishes, ED
Date published: 2014-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great coverage of sleep science I'm a psychology doctoral student and have been using The Great Courses as a resource to bolster my learning. I found this to be an excellent class on the subject of sleep science - it added so much to my understanding (beyond the single chapter coverage in my textbooks). The professor has tremendous experience and credibility. He does get a bit heavy into details and research at times, so take that into consideration (some like that, others dont). Enjoy!
Date published: 2014-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Content and Excellent Presentation Professor Heller was clear, friendly, and very informative. As someone with more than one sleep disorder, the Prof. gave me greater and useful insight into my challenges and sleep in general. I am very happy with my purchase, and I thank Professor Heller for his genuinely helpful course.
Date published: 2014-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course One of the best courses. Thanks Dr. Heller I learned a lot from your lecture.
Date published: 2014-02-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great but comlicated presentation This course is one of the most scientific courses presented .As a scientist myself, I learned a lot from it ;but I have to recognize that I needed to go through many of them at least 4- 5 timestaking notes. It is surely not suitable for any non scientistist or anybody without any knowledge of biology or medecine. Thank you to give us a such outstanding lectures
Date published: 2014-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worthwhile and comprehensive This was a thorough and rigorous exploration of sleep science I appreciated the citations as well as the occasional speculation. It was just what I was hoping for when I ordered it. I listened while traveling, and plan to listen again at home where I can take notes!
Date published: 2013-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good but could be improved This is a science-based course (as it needs to be), and although the professor strives to make the science simple and intelligible, it will be a stretch for those without at least basic science training. There's lots of information here and the presentations would be enhanced by more illustrations and more complete summaries of the key aspects of the anatomy, physiology and chemistry of sleep. The accompanying text falls far short of the lectures in this respect.
Date published: 2013-10-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent This course is valuable for physicians and nurse practitioners. The content is excellent as is the presentation..
Date published: 2013-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Knowledge of Sleep Science is Fundamental I am an avid Teaching Company customer, but do not write many reviews. However, I was compelled to write a review on this course, given the many somewhat uninformed reviews I have read. Yes, Professor Heller is very detailed, but sleep is a complex domain and he has performed an admirable job in presenting the fundamentals with reasonable clarity. Professor Heller summarizes the importance of neurotransmitters in both circadian rhythms and actual sleep. He tries to elucidate the many brain areas important to sleep. He highlights the importance of light in regulating sleep. There are many other important areas covered. Given, the importance of sleep and its restoration of brain energy reserves, I believe it pays to better understand the fundamentals. I also believe the course has already helped me sleep better, which in the past has been a challenge. Overall, this is a critically important course being offered by the Teaching Company, but it is not an easy course you can casually watch. It will demand serous attention and a few play backs for the material to be absorbed. In addition, having some knowledge of biology and genetics might be helpful. I almost did not purchase the course, as a result of reading several of the poor reviews, but I am glad my instincts guided me otherwise.
Date published: 2013-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC COURSE I am new to The Great Courses and have listened to the several that I have purchased. This course on sleep is most compelling, totally interesting and it provided me the information I need for my own sleep disorders. Professor Heller did a stellar job presenting most aspects of sleep in this modern age. I would ask Professor Heller to present an additional course on sleep that showed us how to read a sleep study. I would like to know more about the stages of sleep and some of the other pathologies that show up in these studies. I am asking for this because I have several including no delta sleep what so ever, alpha intrusions, leg movements, snoring, waking up because of pain and sleep apnea. I cannot take pain medications because they act as stimulants. As a result, while my perception that I get a good, sound sleep, I am exhausted during the day. I score high on the daytime sleepiness scale. Also, I have been diagnosed with narcolepsy. While this course is most interesting, because of my sleep problems, I have fallen asleep often while listening and have had to start many lectures over. Another thing. I found the lecture on learning disabilities featuring Downs Syndrome to be lacking. I would like to hear about disabilities that more people have and how they are influenced by sleep.
Date published: 2013-05-19
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