Historical Timeline of Human Sleep

Use this interactive timeline to trace the path of our approach to and understanding of sleep throughout human history. Select a time period to start and click on the colored boxes for additional information.

Milestones in the History of Sleep

Watch Dr. Robert Stickgold recall the discovery of brain activity during sleep, one of the most important advances in sleep research, Dr. Dennis Dean discuss the impact of artificial lighting on today's society, and Dr. Charles Czeisler describe the discovery of the phenomenon of sleep inertia.

Dr. Robert Stickgold describes the discovery of electrical brain activity during sleep, a milestone in sleep research in the 1950s.

Dr. Dennis Dean discusses how the light bulb has exposed the human system to light at times that would normally be dark, and the impact this has had on how long people sleep.

Dr. Charles Czeisler describes the discovery of the phenomenon of sleep inertia by the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s.