Sleep: Neurobiology, Medicine, and Society
The objective of this course is to give students the most up-to-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 section of the course is an overview of the neurobiological basis of sleep control. The course provides cellular-level understanding of how sleep deprivation, jet lag, and substances such as alcohol, ,caffeine, and nicotine alter sleep and wakefulness. The second section of the course covers 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 this second section of the class highlights the relevance of sleep for preventive medicine. The societal relevance of sleep will be considered in the final section 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.
Ralph Lydic, Ph.D.