William C. Dement

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William C. Dement
Born (1928-07-29) July 29, 1928 (age 87)
Wenatchee, Washington, United States
Residence United States
Institutions Stanford University
Alma mater University of Chicago

William Charles Dement (born July 29, 1928) is a pioneering US sleep researcher and founder of the Sleep Research Center, at Stanford University. He is a leading authority on sleep, sleep deprivation and the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy. For this pioneering work in a previously uncharted field in the United States, he is sometimes referred to as the American father of sleep medicine.


Dement was born in Wenatchee, Washington in 1928.[1]In the 1950s, of those who also studied at the University of Chicago[2] he was the first to intensively study the connection between rapid eye movement and dreaming. His fellow student Eugene Aserinsky had mentioned to him that "Dr. Kleitman and I think these eye movements might be related to dreaming".[3] Aserinsky, along with his and Dement's adviser Nathaniel Kleitman, had previously noticed the connection but hadn't considered it very interesting. Dement had an interest in psychiatry, which in those days considered dreams to be important, so he was excited by the discovery and was eager to pursue it. He began his work in sleep deprivation at Mount Sinai Hospital in the late 1950s – the early 1960s. He was among the first researchers to study sleeping subjects with the electroencephalogram (EEG), and he wrote "I believe that the study of sleep became a true scientific field in 1953, when I finally was able to make all-night, continuous recordings of brain and eye activity during sleep." Studying these recordings, he discovered and named the five stages of sleep.[4] In collaboration with Dr. Christian Guilleminault, Dement proposed the measure that is still used for the clinical definition of sleep apnea and the rating of its severity, the Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI).[4]

Dement, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, taught the large and popular "Sleep and Dreams" course at Stanford from 1971 until 2015.

In 1975 he launched the American Sleep Disorders Association, now known as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and served as president for its first twelve years. In that same year he and Mary Carskadon invented the Multiple Sleep Latency Test used to measure sleepiness, a test of how quickly people fall asleep, sleep onset latency, during several daytime opportunities.

He was also chairman of the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, whose final report led directly to the creation of a new agency within the National Institutes of Health, the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.

Dement is the author of The Promise of Sleep[4] and The Sleepwatchers, and has written the first undergraduate textbook in the field.[citation needed]. The Promise of Sleep along with a cameo appearance of himself was featured in the 2012 independent comedy film Sleepwalk with Me.

At the start of his academic career, he was a jazz musician and played bass. While at the University of Washington he jammed with Quincy Jones, a time during which he also befriended Ray Charles. During the late 80s, while at Stanford, he was known to have played, on at least one occasion, with artist-in-residence, Stan Getz.[4]

He lives with his family in northern California.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Dement, W; Kleitman, N (1957). "The relation of eye movements during sleep to dream activity: An objective method for the study of dreaming". Journal of Experimental Psychology 53 (5): 339–346. doi:10.1037/h0048189. PMID 13428941. 
  • Dement, W; Kleitman, N (1957). "Cyclic variations in EEG during sleep and their relation to eye movements, body motility, and dreaming". Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology 9 (4): 673–690. doi:10.1016/0013-4694(57)90088-3. PMID 13480240. 
  • Dement, W (1960). "The effect of dream deprivation". Science 131 (3415): 1705–1707. doi:10.1126/science.131.3415.1705. PMID 13815805. 
  • Roffwarg, HP; Muzio, JN; Dement, WC (1966). "Ontogenetic development of the human sleep-dream cycle". Science 152 (3722): 604–619. doi:10.1126/science.152.3722.604. PMID 17779492. 
  • Dement, William C (1974). Some must watch while some must sleep. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-0769-1. 
  • Guilleminault, C; Tilkian, A; Dement, WC (1976). "The sleep apnea syndromes". Annual Review of Medicine 27: 465–484. doi:10.1146/annurev.me.27.020176.002341. PMID 180875. 
  • Carskadon, MA; Dement, WC; Mitler, MM; Roth, T; Westbrook, PR; Keenan, S (1986). "Guidelines for the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT): a standard measure of sleepiness.". Sleep 9 (4): 519–24. PMID 3809866. 
  • Dement, William C (1992). The sleepwatchers. Stanford, CA: Stanford Alumni Association. ISBN 0-916318-48-6. 
  • Dement, William C; Vaughan, Christopher (1999). The promise of sleep: a pioneer in sleep medicine explores the vital connection between health, happiness, and a good night's sleep. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-385-32008-6. 
  • Dement, WC (2005). "Sleep extension: getting as much extra sleep as possible". Clinics in Sports Medicine 24 (2): 251–268, viii. doi:10.1016/j.csm.2004.12.014. PMID 15892922. 
  • Kryger, Meir H; Roth, Thomas; Dement, William C (2011). Principles and practice of sleep medicine (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier. ISBN 978-1-4160-6645-3. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Video on YouTube
  3. ^ The Promise of Sleep, Delacourt Press 1999, W.C. Dement and C. Vaughan, HC, pp.36, ISBN 0-385-32008-6 at 4 am
  4. ^ a b c d Dement, William C.; and Christopher Vaughan (1999). The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night's Sleep. Dell Trade Paperbacks. ISBN 0-440-50901-7.  pp. 35-38. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Promise" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Promise" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).

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