The Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine

About Us

The Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine is comprised of research, clinical and educational programs geared to advance the field of sleep medicine and improve patient care. As the birthplace of sleep medicine, Stanford has driven considerable growth in sleep research and treatment. Because sleep encompasses some of the greatest remaining mysteries in the biological sciences, breakthroughs in this area will constitute some of the foremost advances in human health in this century. 

At some point in their life, at least three-quarters of all adults will suffer from one or more of the approximately 90 different diagnosable sleep disorders. (By comparison, Alzheimer’s disease affects about 4 million Americans.) Stanford sleep research and treatment focuses on disorders including the following:

INSOMNIA debilitates no fewer than 14 percent of Americans. It has been shown to be one of the strongest predictors of depression later in life. But new therapies, including some that do not require medication—such as sleep restriction, light therapy, better sleep habits, and cognitive therapy—bring 80 percent to 90 percent satisfaction even in severe cases.

OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA afflicts 30 million Americans, or 10 percent of the population. Soft tissue in the airway stops breathing repeatedly during sleep, preventing deep sleep, causing low oxygenation, and resulting in sleep deprivation. Apnea is now accepted as the leading treatable cause of hypertension and is a strong predictor of stroke and heart disease. Difficulty with memory, intimacy, and attention are common.

CENTRAL SLEEP APNEA, a less common type of sleep apnea, affects several million Americans. Although people with central sleep apnea seldom snore, symptoms and results are much the same as the obstructive type—a deprivation of oxygen and poor sleep. About 40 percent to 60 percent of persons with heart failure have central sleep apnea.

RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME (RLS) afflicts 12 million Americans. An uncontrollable urge to move the legs, often associated with painful sensations, seriously disrupts sleep. The genetic basis of RLS has just been discovered. RLS is also associated with depression, anxiety, and heart disease.

NARCOLEPSY AND IDIOPATHIC HYPERSOMNIA (disabling daytime sleepiness) shatter more than 200,000 lives in the United States. In addition to sudden, unpredictable sleeping, they can cause cataplexy, a muscular collapse brought on by emotional excitement. Lifelong treatment with stimulants or powerful sedatives is often required but brings only partial relief. Although the cause of narcolepsy is now established, almost nothing is known regarding idiopathic hypersomnia and its treatment.

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