History of Sleep Medicine

Persatuan Permasalahan Tidur Malaysia

Throughout history there has been great interest in dreams, and that is how great characters in history have tried to explain the bases of dreaming.

For example, Aristotle, made three treatises on the dream known as: About Sleep and Wakefulness, About Dreams and About Divination by Dreams, known as the Parva naturalia. Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, worked hard in the analysis of dreams. The Russian physiologist Pavlov made contributions that are not so recognized in the scientific literature, about experiments and theories regarding hypnosis.

In ancient times, sleep was considered as an intermediate state between vigil and death


The Philosophy of Sleep by Robert MacNish

As you can see there has always been great scientific interest in the dream and have marked changes in the knowledge of it, with the discoveries of brain electrical activity. In the 19th century it was shown that there were electrical brain rhythms in animals and in the 20th century it was possible to record human brain activity (electroencephalogram) and different findings were established that determine whether one is awake or asleep.

After all the investigations it has been possible to conclude that the dream is a dynamic state, a special cerebral activity controlled by complex mechanisms.

Only recently, medicine has discovered the importance of sleep and how the symptoms can be the manifestation of serious medical and psychiatric problems that can affect the human being. Each day, one third or more of the population suffer from some sleep disorder or abnormal daytime sleepiness.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder followed by sleep-disordered breathing and restless legs syndrome.

A great amount of research being done will allow us to advance in the knowledge of it and also to help the early diagnosis of many alterations and the best treatment to the people that require it. Additionally, the growth of this field and the exploration of critical areas of research cannot exist without the proper education and training of health personnel and the general public. It is important that every human being is aware of the characteristics of his sleep and of his family. Teachers in schools, universities, drivers of public land and air transport, all professionals who have shifts, athletes, parents, should be alert to any signal that could be indicating the presence of some sleep disturbance.

Likewise, the competent authorities should be alert to the results of the investigations to lead to a design of better working hours, to prevention of accidents, to detection through some specially designed questionnaires, of people who might be suffering from some disorder of the dream.

When the body rest, the soul awakens and manages its own house and carries out by itself the actions of the body

Hypocrates