Nathaniel Kleitman (April 26, 1895
Kishinev – August 13, 1999 Los
Angeles) was a physiologist and sleep researcher who served as
Professor Emeritus in
Physiology at the University of Chicago. He is
recognized as the father of modern sleep research, and is the author
of the seminal 1939 book
Sleep and Wakefulness.
1.1 Early life
1.2 REM sleep
1.3 Rest activity cycle
1.4 Other experiments
2 See also
Nathaniel Kleitman was born in Chișinău, also known as Kishinev, the
capital of the province of
Bessarabia (now Moldova), in 1895 to a
Jewish family. He was deeply interested in consciousness and reasoned
that he could get insight in consciousness by studying the
unconsciousness of sleep. Pogroms drove him to Palestine, and in
1915 he emigrated to the
United States as a result of World War I. At
the age of twenty, he landed in
New York City
New York City penniless; in 1923, at
age twenty-eight, he had worked his way through City College and
earned a PhD from the University of Chicago's Department of
Physiology. His thesis was "Studies on the physiology of sleep." Soon
after, in 1925, he joined the faculty there. An early sponsor of
Kleitman's sleep research was the Wander Company, which manufactured
Ovaltine and hoped to promote it as a remedy for insomnia.
Eugene Aserinsky, one of Kleitman's graduate students, decided to hook
sleepers up to an early version of an electroencephalogram machine,
which scribbled across 1⁄2 mile (800 m) of paper each night. In
the process, Aserinsky noticed that several times each night the
sleepers went through periods when their eyes darted wildly back and
forth. Kleitman insisted that the experiment be repeated yet again,
this time on his daughter, Esther. In 1953, he and Aserinsky
introduced the world to "rapid-eye movement," or REM sleep. Kleitman
and Aserinsky demonstrated that REM sleep was correlated with dreaming
and brain activity. Another of Kleitman's graduate students, William
C. Dement, now a professor of psychiatry at the Stanford medical
school, has described this as the year that "the study of sleep became
a true scientific field."
Rest activity cycle
Kleitman made countless additional contributions to the field of sleep
research and was especially interested in "rest-activity" cycles,
leading to many fundamental findings on circadian and ultradian
rhythms. Kleitman proposed the existence of a Basic rest activity
cycle, or BRAC, during both sleep and wakefulness.
Renowned for his personal and experimental rigor, he conducted
well-known sleep studies underground in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky and
lesser-known studies underwater in submarines during World War II and
above the Arctic Circle.
^ Siegel, J. M. "A tribute to Nathaniel Kleitman". Psychiatry and
Brain Research Institute. University of California, Los Angeles.
Archived from the original on 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
^ "Kleitman. father of sleep research". University of Chicago
Chronicle V. 19(1), Sept. 23 1999. University of Chicago. Retrieved
^ Coenen, AML (1999). "
Nathaniel Kleitman 1895-1999: a legend in sleep
research" (PDF). SLEEP-WAKE Research in The Netherlands. 10: 13–14.
Retrieved 6 March 2012.
^ Kleitman, N.,
Sleep and Wakefulness, 1963, Reprint 1987:
^ Kleitman, N., Basic rest-activity cycle—22 years later, Journal of
Sleep Research &
Sleep Medicine, Vol 5(4), Dec 1982, 311-317
^ Dement, WC (2001). "Remembering Nathaniel Kleitman". Archives
Italiennes de Biologie. 139 (1): 11–17. Retrieved 6 March
ISNI: 0000 0000 8315 8479