Year 12 Psychology students have been learning about states of consciousness and sleep this term. Our studies have included measuring consciousness and sleep, the stages and patterns of sleep, and the purpose of sleep. Students have attempted to record their own sleep patterns using sleep diaries and discussed habits that can improve their sleep. We have also been learning about devices used by sleep scientists to study sleep patterns.


On Thursday 28 July we were fortunate to have an expert from the Turner Institute at Monash University come to school to run a sleep incursion. Sleep researcher, Rachel Harris, brought polysomnography equipment to school and demonstrated how it is used to track sleep. 


Three of our generous students volunteered to be monitored while they went into the quiet room next door and attempted to fall asleep. Meanwhile, back in the classroom, students observed their brain activity, eye movements, muscle tension, breathing rate and pulse, to assess whether they had reached a sleep state. This was not without its challenges, as falling asleep on demand is quite difficult, and waiting for signs of sleep to appear requires much patience. Nevertheless, all groups were able to observe the indicators of Stage 1 sleep and how these devices operate. 


It was wonderful to see students taking advantage of the opportunity to ask an expert questions about sleep and sleep disorders. They were also able to view and try out bright light therapy lamps and glasses and discuss how these can be used as interventions for circadian phase disorders. Many students reflected that it was really interesting to observe the measurement of live data in operation and understand how these are used to study sleep and diagnose sleep disorders. 

Ms Sarah Bowes

Psychology Teacher