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Publisher's Summary

Sleep is the subject of intense scientific debate among biologists and neuroscientists. Why must we spend about one-third of our lives asleep? What exactly is sleep? Why does a lack of sleep impair our cognitive abilities and leave us vulnerable to a host of medical issues ranging from obesity to reduced resistance to infectious disease?

These 24 engrossing lectures take you to the forefront of the field to reveal what happens in the sleeping brain right down to the cellular and molecular level. You'll investigate what biological changes occur during wakefulness that are reversed during sleep - and why your brain forces you to fall asleep to repay an accumulated sleep deficit, no matter how dangerous the circumstances.

The science of sleep encompasses basic concepts of electricity, neuroanatomy, and neurochemistry, which are responsible for the "architecture of sleep." Professor Heller explains the science behind our circadian rhythms, REM and non-REM sleep, the physiology of dreaming, and more.

Sleep pathologies and disorders are among the most fascinating topics of the course. From disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome to parasomnias such as sleepwalking and night terrors, the most up-to-date findings in the science of sleep are truly riveting.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2013 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2013 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Very good scientific explanations

I found this one hard to listen to. This lecture series is packed with great information about the mechanics of sleep, physiology, neuroscience. The parts about sleep disorders I found particularly interesting. However, I feel that this series may have been better titled. Secrets of Sleep seems a bit misleading to me.

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Not for those looking for actionable advice <br />

Content is not what I expected. This course would be most appreciated by sleep researchers and those who are mainly interested in the mechanics of sleep. Presenter is enthusiastic and well informed. This course is not worth the time for a listener looking for concise and compelling advice to improve sleep hygiene. I returned this book after a trial listen of 4 hours.

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  • DaemonZeiro
  • 2015-06-03

This is what to listen to BEFORE you see a doctor!

(or after) ;)

The very first lecture had me hesitant, it seems a bit fluffy- but the later lectures were deliciously efficient with communicating the many details of sleep and what is actually going on in your brain.

The speaker does an excellent job keeping the listener engaged and interested along with having a voice that has the personality and excitement of a Ph.D talking about his own field/dedication (which he is!). I suddenly started suffering from a sleep disorder after meningitis which was later exacerbated by a major concussion. Medical doctors have a tendency to try to diagnose you as quickly as possible, but not as 'well' as possible. If you go to a doctor with the knowledge you obtain here - your suggestions and ideas will hold substantial weight and you may be able to more accurately relay your symptoms (if you are having sleep issues).

Prof. Heller goes over all the possibilities/sources of sleep pathologies from the level of protein signalling to the macromolecular results. He does an excellent job relaying how sleep is structured and what the different parts of sleep may be doing. He even touches on how to optimize sleep for enhanced learning. Occasionally, I've had to re-listen to lectures that were information-dense or take notes but he explains how/why all the ingredients in common (and less common) sleep aids work. I was inspired to delve deeper, still, because of these lectures- looking up more information on the parts of the brain involved in sleep and memory as well as how sleep differs in those with learning disabilities.

I've researched sleep due to my issues with it and even with my biological background (current phd student in molecular biology- proteomics) I've taken notes and learned plenty of things I didn't know before!

I HIGHLY recommend this audiobook, whether or not you have sleep problems. You may find yourself sleeping better, learning better and coping better in addition to understanding your own body better.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Francois
  • 2014-08-18

Wow! I wish I had this courses when I was 20 years

I have listened to dozens of very interesting audiobooks, but I never had a more engaging experience. This basically comes from from the quality of the narration by professor Heller and by the detailed content regarding the processes in the sleep research.

If I had heard such lectures at 20, I would certainly have had a better sleep hygiene.

This courses reminded me of the enthusiasm that I felt from the best science teachers that I got.

This was my first 'Great Course'. I am really looking for more now.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • D does reviews
  • 2015-11-09

It's not lying about the science part

A great in depth overview of what we know (and all we don't know) about sleep. It becomes quite technical in some later lectures - if you don't have previous knowledge of physiology/biochemistry expect to need to listen to some of the lectures a few times. Still, this is what the Great Courses should be about - college-level lectures on interesting topics.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Douglas
  • 2013-09-07

This Course Appealed To Me...

on several different levels. As a lifelong insomniac, the section on sleep disorders had a very personal draw for me. As someone with a deep interest in neurology and brain science, the physiological and neurological aspects of sleep held a further fascination. As someone who has also studied psychology at length, the psychological and mental health aspects of sleep were of great interest to me as well. As always with the Great Courses, I was not disappointed, but rather found a rich and rewarding experience here. Craig Heller is a knowledgeable and entertaining lecturer and presents this series in a way accessible to the layman but also interesting to someone who has already done considerable research in this area. I have been listening to many of the Great Courses on the mind, the brain, personality and perception of late, and I am impressed with how current and up-to-date they are and how complete they are in presenting theories and ideas in the psychological and neurological realm. I highly recommend other Great Courses in this area to complement Heller's talks on sleep, dreams and sleep disorders. (See my other reviews of same.)

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Ronald
  • 2016-03-03

One of the best lectures I've ever heard

I purchased this lecture series because of sleep issues that I have and the sleep related complaints of my family. while I was initially unsure of what to expect, I was amazed at the in depth knowledge of the professor. this lecture covers the entire spectrum of physiological molecular cellular and psychological aspects of sleep and sleep deprivation. if you are suffering from sleep related issues or know someone who is, this is a mandatory lecture. I could not get any higher recommendation for this lecture.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • N. Barnes
  • 2013-09-30

Fascinating science delivered in compelling manner

Professor Heller does a fabulous job with this series of 24 lectures, all of which I found very engaging and easy to understand. There are one or two lectures that get deep into the neurology of sleep, but he clearly has experience teaching college students and knows how to make material understandable. He also is very passionate about his research and the possibilities of improving quality of life through better sleep science and popular information about sleep, and as a fellow professor I appreciate that energy. If you are at all interested in sleep science, or you or your loved ones have any issues with sleep, this is a must!

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Pieter
  • 2014-01-30

Excellent content, excellent narration

What did you love best about Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders?

The narrator did a superb job. Pace, tone, rapport, comfort with technical terms, etc. This guy knows his stuff and has the gift of being an enjoyable narrator!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders?

The explanations about how sleep and memory and learning are linked, and what experiments they do to pinpoint and deduce where, when, and how this works. I've learnt a great deal.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listen to audiobooks in my car on my commute to and from work. Each leg is about 40 minutes. I was always a bit disappointed when I arrived at my destination, because I wish could listen just a bit longer!Having said that, listening through the entire thing in one go would be too much. One has to sleep, no. :-)

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • E. A. Newton
  • 2013-09-22

Great information, *very* technical

What did you like best about Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders? What did you like least?

I've loved learning about sleep from the time I understood that my father and I were night owls and my sister and mother were morning birds... and why do my oldest son and I have night terrors (even as an adult I have them) and my other son doesn't... I was always wondering what made us so different!

This is a great book that introduces some concepts I didn't know about (even after all of my reading over the years) but the professor gets into some very technical information on neurochemistry.

Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

of course! I've got many of them already...

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

yes, the professor was very good - I'd definitely recommend *not* listening to this on 1.5 ;)

Was Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders worth the listening time?

yes

Any additional comments?

This course left me wanting to ask the professor questions - I'll be sending him an email.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Jayne
  • 2018-03-27

great science of sleep but misleading on dreams

Any additional comments?

This is a solid review of the research on sleep but the title is misleading and the author/lecturer is wrong in his understanding of dreams. I've been doing scientific dream research for 40 years so I know something of what I speak. First despite the title of the lecture, there is very little on dreams. The authors basic understanding of dream is they are hard to remember thus there is nothing to gain. He is simply wrong. For some people, or some times, in some cultures that is true but not always. Furthermore, he repeated stance that sleepers will confuse waking reality with dream reality can happen but RARELY. The reason is the language of dreams is symbolic and metaphoric. Thus there is little chance of confusion. He totally ignores that well known fact. The ultimate irony is he end every lecture with "sweet dreams" while dismissing them. It's really too bad as otherwise this is just excellent.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Venom
  • 2016-05-29

Fascinating Information

While in school to become a Sleep Technologist, I previously learned about much of this information. The author discussed many studies & experiments that were fascinating & also new to me. I learned a lot from this book. I couldn't wait read each chapter!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful