Allan Rechtschaffen (born 1927) is a noted pioneer in the field of sleep research whose work includes some of the first laboratory studies of insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and napping. He received his PhD from Northwestern University in 1956.
Dr. Rechtschaffen and Gerry Vogel, working with colleagues at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York including Dr. William Dement, described narcolepsy—the first scientifically demonstrated sleep disorder—in a landmark paper in 1963. Dr. Rechtschaffen went on to perform experiments in rats that demonstrated the lethal consequences of long-term (two weeks or more) sleep deprivation and REM sleep deprivation.
He worked with Anthony Kales in developing the still-used criteria used by sleep laboratories to report human sleep scale data. The system is commonly called R&K or Rechtschaffen and Kales, named after its key developers. R&K was used from 1968 to 2007 when The AASM Manual for the Scoring of Sleep and Associated Events was published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).
Rechtschaffen, who was born in the Bronx, is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Chicago. His family name means "upright" in German. He is the uncle of the author Daniel Mendelsohn and filmmaker Eric Mendelsohn.
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- A manual of standardized terminology, techniques and scoring system for sleep stages of human subjects edited by Allan Rechtschaffen and Anthony Kales, National Institutes of Health, Publication no. 204, Neurological Information Network (1968)