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Arts, Sleep and Medicine: An Image Guided Interview with Professor Meir Kryger


"The Arts and Sciences, essential to the prosperity of the State and to the ornament of human life, have a primary claim to the encouragement of every lover of his country and mankind."

George Washington

What do art masters like Caravaggio, Botticelli, van Gogh, Man Ray, Lichtenstein and Warhol have in common? They all share an interest of depicting the state of sleep (1). Through centuries, artists have explored various themes related to sleep and sleep disorders including mythology, religion, dreams, innocence, healing and parallels between sleep and death (2). Do such depictions help us understand our patients and their individual experiences (3)? How do they inform the culture of sleep health in our communities (4, 5)?

In this podcast, Dr. Andrey Zinchuk talks with Dr. Kryger, a Professor of Sleep Medicine at Yale University about how sleep and sleep medicine are connected with the arts. Dr. Kryger is a well-known researcher and educator. He is a co-author of the authoritative resource for sleep researchers and clinicians alike around the world, the Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. Dr. Kryger has been fascinated with how sleep and sleep medicine have intersected with the arts and literature for decades, and has published widely, given talks and interviews on the topic (2, 6-8).

Presenter Disclosures

Andrey Zinchuk: No relevant commercial interests.
Meir Kryger: No relevant commercial interests.

Examples of art depicting sleep and sleep disorders:





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1. Pizzo J. The 25 Most Iconic Artworks of People Sleeping. 2013 [cited 2016 August 28, 2016]. Available from: http://www.complex.com/style/2013/01/the-25-most-iconic-artworks-of-people-sleeping/.

2. Colin M. Shapiro DS, and Meir H. Kryger. Sleep in Art and Literature. In: Kryger MH, editor. Atlas of Clinical Sleep Medicine; 2013. p. 1-9.

3. Guillemin M. Embodying heart disease through drawings. Health (London) 2004; 8: 223-239.

4. Cameron M, Crane N, Ings R, Taylor K. Promoting well-being through creativity: how arts and public health can learn from each other.Perspect Public Health 2013; 133: 52-59.

5. Stuckey HL, Nobel J. The connection between art, healing, and public health: a review of current literature. Am J Public Health 2010; 100: 254-263.

6. Frank P. Why have artists always found sleep such a fascinating subject?: a brief and dreamy look back at the history of sleep in art. Huffington post; 2016.

7. Kryger M. Charles Dickens: impact on medicine and society. J Clin Sleep Med 2012; 8: 333-338.

8. Kryger MH. Noon: Rest from Work, after Jean-Francois MIllet by Vincent van Gogh. Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation 2015; 1: 3-4.