History of Sleep Research (SLEE5002)


Aims: To understand the milestones that shaped our understanding of the nature of sleep; to understand the development of the concepts of sleep stages, chronobiology and the concept that sleep is not a steady state cycle, but changes through the night; to appreciate importance of polysomnography and the all-night sleep study. Content: Development of Sleep Research: The importance of sleep has been recognized throughout history. However, until recent times sleep was thought to be the intermediate state between wakefulness and death. This section elucidates the observations that have lead to the modern concept of an active dynamic condition we call sleep - from the observation of biological cycles, through the discovery of REM sleep, to the all-night sleep study. Introduction to Methods in Sleep Research: Sleep research involves the use of specific equipment and techniques. The early reports of sleep were confined to case histories and, later, short-term samples of biophysical recording were made. However, it was not until the early 1950s that researchers began to undertake all-night recordings and so polysomnography was born. Polysomnography and the meaning of the biophysical measurements made during full sleep studies will be introduced. In addition, the concepts of sleep stages and the normal changes of cardiorespiratory control and EEG will be introduced.

Further unit of study information


~3 hours online lectures over 1 semester plus directed reading and independent study


1xonline quiz (50%), 1xexam (50%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.