Christian Guilleminault

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Christian Guilleminault
Born1938 (1938)
Marseilles, France
Died9 July 2019(2019-07-09) (aged 80–81)
Alma materUniversity of Paris (MD, PhD)
University of Geneva
Known forPioneer in modern sleep medicine research
Scientific career
FieldsSleep medicine
InstitutionsStanford University School of Medicine

Christian Guilleminault (1938– 9 July 2019) was a French physician and researcher in the field of sleep medicine who played a central role in the early discovery of obstructive sleep apnea and made seminal discoveries in many other areas of sleep medicine.[1][2]


Born in 1938 in Marseilles, France, he earned his medical degree and PhD at the University of Paris, and completed residencies in psychiatry and neurology in Paris and at the University of Geneva.[3][4]

While working at the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Clinic in 1972 as a visiting assistant professor, Guilleminault became keenly interested in reports published by Italian sleep researcher Elio Lugaresi who had reported that nocturnal hypertension was present in patients who snored.[5] Guilleminault persuaded cardiologists John Shroeder and Ara Tilkian to spend nights in the hospital's clinical research center monitoring the systemic and pulmonary arterial blood pressure in sleeping patients. The team observed that when patients fell asleep and began snoring, prolonged pauses in their breathing (apneas) were noted that corresponded with dramatic elevations in their resting blood pressure, simulating strenuous exercise as if the patient were lifting weights.[6] Guilleminault then went on to publish several articles illustrating dramatic improvements and reversal of sleep apnea following tracheostomies.[7] Tracheostomy proved curative in these patients, and demonstrated reversal of cardiac arrhythmias and blood pressure abnormalities during sleep; temporarily capping these artificial airways would re-capitulate the changes of sleep apnea, further establishing the causative relationship between sleep apnea and cardiovascular abnormalities.[8]

Guilleminault then went on to describe obstructive sleep apnea in non-obese patients, being the first to coin the term "obstructive sleep apnea syndrome" (OSAS),[9] a term commonly used nowadays. In addition, he described the presence of OSAS in children, demonstrating its association with learning and attention problems along with cardiovascular derangements.[10] Following this work, he went on to describe the presence of elevated upper airway resistance in children in 1982, emphasizing the symptoms of attention deficit, hyperactivity, and abnormal behavior during wakefulness and sleep, learning disabilities and sleepwalking, sleep terrors and enuresis that accompanied this form of sleep-related breathing disorder;[11] he described the same syndrome in adults and penned the term "upper airway resistance syndrome" (UARS) in adults.[12] Finally, working in collaboration with Dr. William C. Dement, Guilleminault established the Apnea–hypopnea index (AHI), which is still in use today to characterize the presence and severity of sleep apnea.

Guilleminault continued to be a prolific researcher in the field of sleep medicine until his death. He authored over seven hundred and forty (743) articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and won several awards for his research in the field of sleep medicine.[13][14][15][16][17] He was a founding member of the Association of Sleep Disorders Centers in 1975 and was elected as the first editor of the journal Sleep in June 1976, a role in which he continued to serve until 1997.[18]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Priscilla Grevert with two sons, Eric and Damian Guilleminault.[19][20]


He died on 9 July 2019, from complications related to metastatic prostate cancer.[19][20][3][21][22][23]


  • Sleep Medicine, An Issue of Medical Clinics of North America (2010)
  • Sleepiness, An Issue of Sleep Medicine Clinics (2006)
  • Clinical Neurophysiology of Sleep Disorders: Handbook of Clinical Neurophysiology Series (2005)
  • Fatal Familial Insomnia: Inherited Prion Diseases, Sleep and the Thalamus (1994)
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome: Clinical Research and Syndrome (1990)
  • Sleep and its Disorders in Children (1987)
  • Sleeping and Waking Disorders: Indications and Techniques (1982)
  • Progress in Perinatal Neurology (1981)
  • Advances in Perinatal Neurology (1979)

Selected awards and honors[edit]

  • Doctor "Honoris Causa", University of Liege (School of Medicine) (Belgium) (2004)
  • Distinguished Scientist Award, Sleep Research Society (2005)
  • Honorary professor, Department of Oto-laryngology, Medical Sciences School of the Capital University, Beijing, China (2005)
  • Life Achievement Award, National Sleep Foundation (2005)
  • Doctor "Honoris Causa", Universite de Montreal (Canada) (2013)


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-09-12. Retrieved 2019-10-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Honoring modern sleep medicine researcher Christian Guilleminault – Sleep Apnea". Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  3. ^ a b Erickson, Mandy. "Christian Guilleminault, researcher who coined 'obstructive sleep apnea syndrome,' dies at 80". News Center. Archived from the original on 2019-09-12. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  4. ^ "Christian Guilleminault". Archived from the original on 2019-06-10. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  5. ^ "Prolific Sleep Researcher Christian Guilleminault Dies". The Scientist Magazine®. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  6. ^ William C. Dement, The Promise of Sleep, Random House Inc. 1999, pg. 179
  7. ^ Tilkian, AG; Guilleminault, C; Schroeder, JS; Lehrman, KL; Simmons, FB; Dement, WC. "Sleep-induced apnea syndrome, a surgical procedure to establish patency of the upper airway during sleep". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Tilkian, A. G.; Guilleminault, C.; Schroeder, J. S.; Lehrman, K. L.; Simmons, F. B.; Dement, W. C. (Sep 1977). "Sleep-induced apnea syndrome. Prevalence of cardiac arrhythmias and their reversal after tracheostomy". The American Journal of Medicine. 63 (3): 348–58. doi:10.1016/0002-9343(77)90294-7. PMID 331948.
  9. ^ Guilleminault, Christian; Tilkian A; Dement WC (1976). "The sleep apnea syndromes". Annual Review of Medicine. 27: 465–84. doi:10.1146/ PMID 180875.
  10. ^ Guilleminault, Christian; Eldridge, F.; Simmons, F.; Dement, W.C. (1976). "Sleep apnea in eight children". Pediatrics. 58 (1): 23–30. PMID 934781.
  11. ^ Guilleminault, C; Winkle, R; Korobkin, R; Simmons, B (Nov 1982). "Children and nocturnal snoring: evaluation of the effects of sleep related respiratory resistive load and daytime functioning". European Journal of Pediatrics. 139 (3): 165–71. doi:10.1007/bf01377349. PMID 7160405. S2CID 33167061.
  12. ^ Guilleminault, C; Stoohs, R; Clerk, A; Cetel, M; Maistros, P (Sep 1993). "A cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. The upper airway resistance syndrome". Chest. 104 (3): 781–7. doi:10.1378/chest.104.3.781. PMID 8365289.
  13. ^ Attribution of the Christian Guilleminault Award for Research in Sleep Medicine, World Association of Sleep Medicine (2005)
  14. ^ Distinguished Scientist Award, Sleep Research Society (2005)
  15. ^ Honorary professor, Department of Oto-laryngology, Medical Sciences School of the Capital University, Beijing, China (2005)
  16. ^ Life Achievement Award, National Sleep Foundation (2005)
  17. ^ Doctor "Honoris Causa", University of Liege (School of Medicine) (Belgium) (2004)
  18. ^ Dement, [edited by] Meir H. Kryger, Thomas Roth, William C. (2011). Principles and practice of sleep medicine (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier. ISBN 978-1-4377-0731-1.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. ^ a b "In Memoriam: Sleep medicine pioneer Christian Guilleminault, MD". American Academy of Sleep Medicine – Association for Sleep Clinicians and Researchers. 2019-07-10. Archived from the original on 2019-07-17. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  20. ^ a b "In Memoriam: Christian Guilleminault (1938-2019)". Archived from the original on 2019-07-17. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  21. ^ SRS (2019-07-12). "In Memoriam: Christian Guilleminault, MD (1938-2019)". Sleep Research Society. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  22. ^ "In Memoriam: Dr. Christian Guilleminault". www.Narcolepsy 2019-07-11. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  23. ^ "In Memoriam: Christian Guilleminault (1938-2019) - American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine". Retrieved 2019-10-06.