Sleep has vast implications for public health. Millions of people complain of sleep problems, from insomnia to excessive daytime sleepiness, from chronic fatigue to irritability associated with unsatisfactory sleep. Common sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, are increasing in prevalence and are implicated in diabetes, heart disease, obesity and a number of other chronic illnesses. Sleep deprivation has high societal costs, too, from driving and work-related accidents to chronically poor performance. A large segment of the population is treated routinely with drugs aimed at improving sleep or at maintaining wakefulness, but such treatments are hampered by our ignorance concerning the functions of sleep and the mechanisms by which sleep problems contribute to morbidity and mortality.

The University of Wisconsin has a long history of excellence in sleep research and sleep medicine, with faculty across multiple departments and schools that are internationally recognized for their expertise in epidemiology, neurophysiology, molecular biology, genetics, neurology and sleep disorders, as well as for their leadership role in sleep research and sleep medicine. Founded in 2017, the Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness (WISC) is an academic sleep center housing a multi-disciplinary clinical sleep program complemented by a world-class research group that addresses multiple aspects of both sleep and consciousness.