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September 6, 1985

Causes of, therapies for insomnia, other sleep problems under study

JAMA. 1985;254(9):1125-1126. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360090011001

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Sleep has been studied at the top of Mt Everest, at the base of the sea, in the young and the old, and in its effects on every organ. Sleep research offers an intellectual feast of stunning variety."

So says William Dement, MD, PhD, founder and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Stanford (Calif) University School of Medicine. The continuing pace of research in this field bears testimony to this assertion.

Today's major concerns in sleep studies, Dement suggests, include:

  • Daytime sleepiness—"There's almost a linear relationship between daytime sleepiness and the amount of sleep one gets at night. While most adults don't get enough sleep and hence are chronically sleepy, daytime sleepiness at any age can indicate a sleep disorder."

  • Biologic clocks—"These are endogenous and ubiquitous, cycling approximately every 24 hours. The biologic clock drives the sleepiness rhythm, so it interacts with prior sleep."

  • Breathing and sleep—"The sleep apnea