Tuesday, October 13

"Everything You Wanted to Know About Sleep but Were Too Tired to Ask"

Discussion with

William Dement, MD PhD

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford Univ. School of Medicine
Division Chief of the Stanford Univ. Division of Sleep

 Tuesday September 8, 2009
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Dr. William Dement is one of the world’s foremost experts on sleep disorders.  He can rightly be called the Father of Sleep Medicine.  He is a pioneer in the field who first documented all night sleep patterns in humans, discovered REM sleep and the relationship between REM and dreaming.  Dr. Dement and his colleagues were also first to understand the prevalence and clinical implications of several sleep disorders, including sleep apnea syndromes and narcolepsy.

In the late sixties, Dr. Dement ran a sleep laboratory (complete with brainwave machine) in the basement of Stanford’s Wilbur Hall dorm.  In 1970, he opened the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Clinic, the first of its kind in the world (currently there are more than 1,000).  Today, Dr. Dement teaches the most popular class in Stanford history (Sleep and Dreams) and focuses on public education of the dangers of obstructive sleep apnea and driving when drowsy.

As a Nation, the US is remarkably sleep deprived.  A large accumulating sleep debt can significantly impact our lives, but our tiredness and fatigue can be blamed on erroneous things like stress, depression or aging.  For the millions of Americans with sleep disorders, the vast majority suffer needlessly without understanding the cause of their symptoms.  At the Café, Dr. Dement will discuss a wide range of sleep topics including sleep disorders and symptoms, the consequences of sleep deprivation, the definition of sleep and the role of the biological clock.  Just don’t fall asleep, or you may find yourself at the receiving end of Dr. Dement’s squirt gun. 


  • A lovely tribute to Dr. Dement produced by Stanford
  • Dr. Dement on NPR’s Talk of the Nation (from 2007)
  • Explore the relationship between health and sleep with Dement’s The Promise of Sleep, via Kepler’s Bookstore
  • An update on Stanford’s colony of narcoleptic dogs, via the WSJ (Dr. Dement discovered narcolepsy in dogs in 1973)
  • US Racking Up Huge “Sleep Debt”, via National Geographic