by Jim Surkamp
A Brief History of Sleep Research
The history of sleep research started In 1913 when Henri Pieron, a French Scientist, wrote a book called “Le probleme physiologique du sommeil.” This book was the first where sleep was analyzed from a physiological perspective. Since its publication, this is work book is treated as the beginning of the era of the modern sleep research.
Another researcher, Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman, from Chicago, who is now known as the “Father of American sleep research,” started his work in the 1920s. He wasa the first American who was studying sleep in terms of circadian rhythms and wakefulness. He also worked on sleep patterns of different populations, as well as on the effect of sleep deprivation. It happened only in 1953 when he and his students, Dr. Eugene Aserinsky, made the original discovery of rapid eye movement (REM) during sleep.
A few years have passed until Dr. William C. Dement, another Kleitman’s students, described the “cyclical” principle of night sleep in 1955 for the first time. Between 1957 and 1958 he found the relationship between REM sleep and a phenomenon of seeing dreams. In 1958, Dement’s publication (“Sleep cycles in species other than humans”) started a real acceleration of the fundamental research in many different fields, such as pharmacology, biochemistry, and physiology for the next 20 years. His work led Michel Jouvet, from France, to identify REM sleep as fully independent state of alertness, the one he called “paradoxical sleep.”
Modern Sleep Research
In modern days, sleep research is diversified into many different categories, such as:
circadian rhythms research
legs and limb movement disorder research
shift work effecting sleep research
sleep deprivation research
sleep and aging research
infant sleep research
There are over 200 accredited sleep disorders centers and laboratories in the United States alone and over 30 in Canada, whose mandate is to recognize, identify, analyze, and treat all sleep disorders.
The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research
This organization has concluded due to fast-paced lives of many round-the-clock shift-work people around the globe, there is a need for a sufficient, and a really good night sleep. Millions of people have changed their sleeping habits along with a new implementation of shift-work schedules and because of it they go without sufficient sleep. These habits create critical penalties.
As an example, car accidents have been increased drastically among people with sleep disorders.
It has been estimated by the Institute of Circadian Physiology in Boston that sleep disorders, being a result of irregular work shifts or other medical conditions, cost American companies over B$ 70 every year in lost productivity, fringe benefits, and industrial accidents.
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