By Eugena Brooks
It is with deep sorrow that we said goodbye to William C. Dement, MD just three weeks short of the anniversary of the passing of Christian Guilleminault, MD. There is no mourning one without doing so for the other, as together they gave those of us with sleep disorders so much. We at sleepapnea.org, home of the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) join with all that suffer from sleep disorders in thanking them both for the trailblazing work they have done.
Dr. Dement was an American sleep researcher and founder of the Sleep Research Center at Stanford University. He was a leading authority on sleep and dreaming, sleep deprivation, and the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy. Dr. Guilleminault (known as CG by his friends and colleagues) was a French neurologist and researcher in the field of sleep medicine who played a central role in the early discovery of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and was renowned for his involvement in the first classification and identification of sleep disorders. Dr. CG’s groundbreaking research in the areas of sleep apnea, pediatric sleep disorders and narcolepsy made him a leader in the field of sleep medicine and research. It was his life’s mission to develop and bring awareness of this “new field” of sleep medicine.
It is said that when Dr. Dement would awaken dozing students in the “non-sleeping section of the class” with spritzes from a water gun and gave them extra credit if they recovered and shouted, “Drowsiness is red alert!” — his rallying cry to make sleep deprivation a public health priority.
Dr. CG described early recognition of sleep apnea as key. Children do not have to suffer years of the disorder because the solution is “right under the nose,” CG affably coined the phrase. The legacy of Dr. CG lies in the continued work of sleepapnea.org. May Dr. CG and Dr. Dement both rest in peace forever.