The AASM regrets to announce the passing of our founding president, Dr. William C. Dement, on June 17, 2020. A researcher, clinician, educator, advocate, mentor and friend to the entire sleep community and beyond, Dement is a luminary in the history of sleep medicine who helped build the sleep field with unrivaled passion, dedication and enthusiasm.
Dement’s lifetime of sleep discoveries began at the University of Chicago in the 1950s, where he joined physiologist Nathaniel Kleitman and graduate student Eugene Aserinsky, who discovered rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in 1953. In 1957 Dement and Kleitman described the human sleep cycle and its sleep stages in the landmark paper, “Cyclic variations in EEG during sleep and their relation to eye movements, body motility, and dreaming.” The discovery of REM sleep provided a physiologic basis for dreams, opening sleep up to scientific study, which was exemplified by Dement and Kleitman’s 1957 paper, “The relation of eye movements during sleep to dream activity: An objective method for the study of dreaming.” The groundbreaking research and use of polysomnography by Kleitman, Aserinsky, and Dement in the U.S., and by Michel Jouvet in France, laid the foundation for the fields of sleep and circadian science and clinical sleep medicine.
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