Alcohol and Sleep



Systematic analysis of sleep as a fundamental biological process is a new scientific enterprise. Yet, since the mid-1950s, the rate of scientific publication on its neural and behavioral correlates, its alteration by drugs, and the effects of its deprivation has risen from a few articles a year to something like sixty articles a month, and there is no hint that we are approaching asymptote. Several factors are responsible for the astounding growth of this field of study. Along with advances in electrophysiological, pharmacological, and behavioral technology which occurred during the past two decades, there emerged a conviction that sleep was not simply a passive, resting state, somewhere near the lower pole of a continuum of vigilance. Instead, sleep was seen as a complex, constantly changing but cyclic succession of active psychophysiological phenomena, qualitatively, not quantitatively, different from those of waking. Furthermore, it was realized that the phenomenology and perhaps the neural mechanisms of sleep were similar if not identical among humans, the other mammals, and birds. Neurobiologists were challenged by the remarkably long-term processes implicated by research on its deprivation or its alteration by drugs, and behavioral scientists were challenged by the realization that the transition from waking to sleep was not a natural boundary for behavioral investigation, that sleep was not an empty state, psychologically. The demonstration by Aserinsky and Kleitman (1955) that the periodic occurrence of vigorous ocular activity in the presence of EEG desynchrony was associated with vivid visual dreams, and the confirmation by Dement (1958) of similar periodic bioelectric patterns in the cat stimulated the interest of investigators from nearly every discipline of the behavioral and biological sciences.


Sleep Deprivation Reticular Formation Blood Alcohol Concentration Paradoxical Sleep Total Sleep Deprivation 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Oklahoma Medical CenterOklahoma CityUSA

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