Professor Sir Neil J. Douglas


27 August 2020


It is with great sadness that the British Sleep Society pays tribute to our founder and Sleep Medicine pioneer, Professor Sir Neil J. Douglas, who recently passed away peacefully at home.

Having undertaken groundbreaking research in sleep apnoea in the UK and USA, Sir Neil founded the Scottish National Sleep Laboratory in Edinburgh in 1983, one of the first clinical sleep services in the UK. An international authority on the causation, consequences and treatment of sleep apnoea, he published over 200 original research papers, two books and over 300 reviews and chapters on sleep and breathing. He was a driving force behind the formation of the British Sleep Society, which was founded in 1989 with Sir Neil and Dr Colin Shapiro as inaugural joint Chairs.

As well as his pivotal role in Sleep Medicine, Sir Neil was influential in the wider medical community, holding the positions of President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.

Sir Neil retired in 2012, and set out his plans for retirement in an interview for the British Sleep Society Newsletter: “Fish, sail, ski, garden, complete climbing the Munros and enjoy good food, good company and good wine.” A well-deserved rest after an illustrious career.

On behalf of the British Sleep Society, we extend our sincere condolences to his family, and express our gratitude for Sir Neil’s outstanding contribution to Sleep Medicine as we know it today.

A full obituary will be featured in the upcoming edition of the British Sleep Society Newsletter, and contributions from those wishing to pay their respects are very welcome.


Dr Lizzie Hill

BSS Education Lead


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