etiology and pathophysiology of sleep disorders. The field is maturing into an interdisciplinary field in which integration and coordination across the traditional medical specialties, other health care providers (e.g. nurses, dentists), and between basic and clinical science is vital.
The maturation of the study of sleep and the field of Somnology and Sleep Medicine (Box 1-1) has seen the establishment of many organizations devoted to promoting public awareness, ensuring quality care for individuals who suffer from chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders, and supporting education and research endeavors. In addition to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), professional societies and foundations have been established, including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the Sleep Research Society, the American Sleep Apnea Association, the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, and the National Sleep Foundation
The field of somnology and sleep medicine has been marked by a number of milestones over the last 35 years. Sleep laboratories dedicated to the evaluation and management of sleep disorders have been established. In 1970, sleep disorders were evaluated at only a handful of sleep laboratories in the world. In 2001, there were close to 1,300 sleep laboratories in the United States (Tachibana et al., 2005). Membership in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society and participation at the annual meeting of the American Professional Sleep Societies has continued to increase. In 2005 sleep medicine was recognized as a medical subspecialty by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Integrating and coordinating the efforts of the many relevant institutes and centers at the NIH presents many challenges related to funding and advancing somnology research. For example, it has recently been recognized that restless legs syndrome (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) and sleep apnea (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) may be a major cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Mental Health) and other behavioral problems (Chervin et al., 2002). The National Institute on Aging is interested in the increase in sleep