The AASM regrets to announce the passing of Rosalind D. Cartwright, PhD, a longtime member and pioneer in the fields of clinical sleep medicine and psychological sleep science. She was born Dec. 30, 1922, and died Jan. 15, 2021, at the age of 98 years.

As one of the first women to establish a career in the nascent fields of sleep research and sleep medicine, Dr. Cartwright was a trailblazer whose curiosity, perseverance, and generosity were an inspiration to many. She also was committed to ensuring that women are represented among the participants in sleep research studies.

After earning a doctorate in psychology at Cornell University, Dr. Cartwright taught for two years at Mount Holyoke College and then conducted psychotherapy research for about 10 years at the University of Chicago. Then she became director of psychology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where she set up a sleep research lab under the guidance of Allan Rechtschaffen, PhD. She was one of the early sleep scientists to study the relationship between REM sleep and dreaming. In the 1970s, she became chairman of the Department of Psychology at Rush University Medical Center, where she established one of the nation’s first clinical centers for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, and she remained at Rush for the rest of her career. In 1980 she became board-certified in sleep medicine by the American Board of Sleep Medicine (ABSM).

Dr. Cartwright had a lifelong fascination with the science of dreams, publishing early books such as “Night Life: Explorations in Dreaming,” “A Primer on Sleep and Dreaming,” and “Crisis Dreaming: Using Your Dreams to Solve Your Problems.” Her final book, “The Twenty-Four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives,” described the importance of sleep for the regulation of disturbing emotions. Her pioneering research earned her the 2004 Distinguished Scientist Award from the Sleep Research Society (SRS).

In addition to treating sleep disorders and studying dreams and mood, Dr. Cartwright examined the importance of sleep for relationships, including a 2008 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine that explored the effects of shared sleeping on adherence to CPAP treatment in obstructive sleep apnea. She also was an early proponent of oral appliance therapy for OSA, and she had an interest in how sleep science could be used in the legal defense of sleepwalkers.

Dr. Cartwright credited the funding that she received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for much of the research that she was able to pursue. In 1994, she served on the inaugural Advisory Board for the new National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) established within the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at NIH.

Learn more about the career of Dr. Rosalind Cartwright in a video conversation on the SRS website. Read memorial tributes to other sleep medicine leaders.