Online module

Understanding sleep

20 mins

1 week

Cost free

Certificate of Completion

Improve your understanding about the importance of sleep, the brain and sleep and the problems that can arise with poor or disrupted sleep.

Suitable for people working in:

Residential Care

This module is part of the course:

Sleep matters

Understanding sleep

Understanding sleep

Sleep matters

Understanding sleep is the first of three modules in the course, Sleep matters. This course has been designed to highlight some of the issues older people have with their sleep and what nurses and care workers can do to optimise sleep for those living in aged care. Completing this course will help you better manage situations where a person is having trouble with their sleep and gain an understanding of the association between sleep and dementia.

Module description

This module introduces you to sleep in the context of older people and specifically, people living with dementia. We unpack what happens in the brain during sleep, factors influencing sleep and the effects of poor or disrupted sleep.

In this video module you’ll learn about why sleep is so important to our health and wellbeing, see an animation of the glymphatic system and hear from six sleep experts about the factors influencing sleep: depression; physical activity and diet; sleep apnoea; medications; light and circadian rhythm; and mental and social engagement.

Learning Outcomes

To be able to understand:

  • the importance and role of sleep, and what happens when we sleep (glymphatic system)
  • how sleep patterns change with age
  • the effects of disrupted sleep.

To be able to describe factors influencing sleep:

  • depression
  • physical activity and diet
  • sleep apnoea
  • medications
  • light & circadian rhythms
  • mental & social engagement.

Continuing Professional Education

A completion certificate for CPD credit is awarded upon completion of this course.


This Dementia Training Australia resource has been developed in association with the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney.

Content leaders:

  • Professor Sharon Naismith, NHMRC Dementia Leadership Fellow and Leonard P Ullman Chair in Psychology, Brain & Mind Centre and Charles Perkins Centre Chief Investigator, Centre of Research Excellence to Optimise Sleep in Brain Ageing and Neurodegeneration, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney.
  • Associate Professor Christopher Gordon, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, CIRUS Centre for Sleep and Chronobiology, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.
  • Dr Shantel Duffy, NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow, ESSAM Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Nutritionist, Brain & Mind Centre and Charles Perkins Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney.
  • Professor Elizabeth Beattie, Director, Dementia Training Australia, Aged and Dementia Care Nursing, Queensland University of Technology.

Content contributors:

  • Dr Chris Blackwell
  • Professor Ron Grunstein AM
  • Associate Professor Bandana Saini
  • Associate Professor Delwyn Bartlett
  • Dr Loren Mowszowki

The videos were produced by Fire Films in conjunction with Professor Andrew Robinson, and the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania.

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