Sleep: Neurobiology, Medicine, and Society

University of Michigan

Students who have successfully completed this course in-person have described it as a survey class on sleep that is team taught by experts.

The objective of this course is to give students the most up-to-the-date information on the biological, personal, and societal relevance of sleep. Personal relevance is emphasized by the fact that the single best predictor of daytime performance is the quality of the previous night's sleep. The brain actively generates sleep, and the first third of the course will overview the neurobiological basis of sleep cycle control. The course provides a cellular-level understanding of how sleep deprivation, jet lag, and substances such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine alter sleep and wakefulness. The second third of the course will cover sleep-dependent changes in physiology and sleep disorders medicine. Particular emphasis will be placed on disorders of excessive sleepiness, insomnia, and sleep-dependent changes in autonomic control. Chronic sleep deprivation impairs immune function and may promote obesity. Deaths due to all causes are most frequent between 4:00 and 6:00 A.M., and the second portion of the class will highlight the relevance of sleep for preventive medicine. The societal relevance of sleep will be considered in the final portion of the class. In an increasingly complex and technologically oriented society, operator-error by one individual can have a disastrous negative impact on public health and safety. Fatigue-related performance decrements are known to have contributed as causal factors to nuclear power plant failures, transportation disasters, and medical errors.


Section I – Neurobiology
Unit 01 - Course Overview - Ralph Lydic, Ph.D.
Unit 02 - Neurobiology of Sleep and Wakefulness - Helen Baghdoyan, Ph.D.
Unit 03 - Mathematical Modeling of Sleep-Wake Regulation - Victoria Booth, Ph.D.
Unit 04 - Molecular Biology and Genetics of Sleep - Chiara Cirelli, M.D., Ph.D.

Section II – Medicine
Unit 05 - Overview of Sleep Medicine - Ronald Chervin, M.D.
Unit 06 - Disordered Sleep and Breathing Alters Cardiovascular Health - Helena Schotland, M.D.
Unit 07 - Sleep and Psychiatric Disorders - Eric Nofzinger, M.D.
Unit 08 - Insomnia: Causes and Consequences - Christopher Drake, Ph.D.
Unit 09 - Treatments for Insomnia - J. Todd Arnedt, Ph.D.
Unit 10 - Sleep and Anesthesia - George Mashour, M.D.

Section III – Society
Unit 11 - Circadian Rhythms, Sleep, and Health - Theresa Lee, Ph.D.
Unit 12 - Daytime Sleepiness and Sleep Need - Thomas Roth, Ph.D.

Recommended Background

The topic of sleep is an ideal vehicle for teaching neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, pharmacology, physiology, and cognitive neuroscience. Based on more than 10 years of experience with the traditional classroom setting, students who do well in the course are up to date on basic biology, chemistry, and neuroscience.

Suggested Readings

Please see Course Syllabus

Course Format

Video format will include lecturer presentations illustrated by still or video images. Each lecture will begin with a list of key learning points. The class content is divided into three sections, which are comprised of a total of twelve units. Units 2-12 conclude with a quiz. The material in the sleep neurobiology section of the class demonstrates that sleep is not a passive process but is actively generated by the brain. The material emphasizes the excitement of efforts in neuroscience to understand the brain regions and neurotransmitters that regulate states of sleep and wakefulness and circadian rhythms. The course then builds on the neurobiology section by focusing on sleep disorders medicine. Particular emphasis will be placed on common sleep disorders such as sleep-disordered breathing, the relationship between sleep and mental health, and sleep and learning. The final lectures focus on sleep need, insomnia, the genetics of sleep, and how progress in our understanding that sleep is a fundamental biological need has significant social and legal implications.


Q: In what language will the course be presented?
A: English

Q: Will the University of Michigan document completion of this class?
A: Students who complete the class and the quizzes will receive a statement of accomplishment.

Q: Will there be an opportunity to interact with the Professors?
A: The course directors will manage a blog to address questions common to each topic

Q: What is the potential gain any student can expect from mastering the content in this class?
A: Available data are absolutely clear that sleep, diet, and exercise are three modifiable factors that contribute to the divide between health and disease. Thus, the content of this course is personally as well as professionally relevant.
  • 5 October 2015, 9 weeks
  • 5 October 2015, 9 weeks
  • 1 June 2015, 9 weeks
  • 6 April 2015, 9 weeks
  • Details to be announced
Course properties:
  • Free:
  • Paid:
  • Certificate:
  • MOOC:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Email-course:
  • Language: English Gb


No reviews yet. Want to be the first?

Register to leave a review

Included in selections:
More on this topic:
Sleep Sleep: Neurobiology, Medicine, and Society
The objective of this course is to give students the most up-to-date information...
More from 'Medicine & Health':
4178fda1-e8c7-476c-81e8-8a6b453a6a76-569208c21635.small Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster
Learn the principles guiding humanitarian response to modern emergencies, and...
7f84da35-2770-43de-886a-c41bcc8f4567-4d2e6c15cc96.small Forensic Engineering: Learning from Failures
Don't let good failures go to waste! Identify the causes of failure and use...
3c05fb77-83cf-4be6-a982-d0fc0cbd31ea-dd80f754b9a5.small Nutrition, Exercise and Sports
Learn about Nutrition, Exercise and Sports and understand how nutrition can...
C822f4c8-45eb-4523-a0a4-f2ef889895f4-227871e30afd.small Essential Competencies for Nurse Preceptors
A learning program that focuses primarily on the preceptor-preceptee relationship...
Ef8093bb-7431-4f54-b2b9-34732a6a615d-ace5f03fb917.small General Overview of Cannabis and the Industry’s Outlook and Professions
An in-depth view of cannabis and its potential uses. This course will provide...
More from 'Coursera':
Success-from-the-start-2 First Year Teaching (Secondary Grades) - Success from the Start
Success with your students starts on Day 1. Learn from NTC's 25 years developing...
New-york-city-78181 Understanding 9/11: Why Did al Qai’da Attack America?
This course will explore the forces that led to the 9/11 attacks and the policies...
Small-icon.hover Aboriginal Worldviews and Education
This course will explore indigenous ways of knowing and how this knowledge can...
Ac-logo Analytic Combinatorics
Analytic Combinatorics teaches a calculus that enables precise quantitative...
Talk_bubble_fin2 Accountable Talk®: Conversation that Works
Designed for teachers and learners in every setting - in school and out, in...

© 2013-2019