The Discovery of REM Sleep



Nathaniel Kleitman (1895–1999) may be considered to be the grandfather of sleep research. During his long career at the University of Chicago, he generated important research papers on multiple aspects of sleep, a major book on sleep and, importantly, students who became leading researchers in the field. Kleitman’s book, Sleep and Wakefulness, was published in 1939. By the late 1950s, the book had been out of print for a few years. Sparked to a large extent by research reports from Kleitman’s own lab in the 1950s, there was renewed interest and demand for his book, and in 1963 he published a revised and enlarged edition. This was a tome of 552 pages with a bibliography of 4337 entries! For an exhaustive and scholarly review of the sleep and waking literature up to that date, there is no equal. To the extent that Kleitman’s name is familiar to those who aren’t sleep researchers, it is due to his coauthorship with Eugene Aserinsky of the paper published in 1953 in the journal Science that described their discovery of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (Aserinsky and Kleitman, 1953). The account of this important discovery has been gleaned from the paper itself and a number of other sources, including Kleitman’s retrospective description of it in his 1963 book and Aserinsky’s recollections published more recently (Kleitman, 1963; Aserinsky, 1996).


Sleep Research Dream Report Recovery Night Sleep Researcher Dream Sleep 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2002

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