British Sleep Society History

Foundation year



Composition of members (degree, specialties, subspecialties, etc.)

The British Sleep Society has an inclusive approach to all specialists related to sleep medicine and sleep research.
Members include both academic and clinical specialists, particularly neurologists, pulmonologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, paediatricians, geriatricians as well as neurophysiologists, circadian rhythm experts, nurses and a large number of technologists working in sleep laboratories.


Historical perspective of the society

The society was founded in 1989 mainly in response to the increase of awareness of obstructive sleep apnoea and its clinical importance. Over the next few years we broadened to include neurological and physiological interests with strong emphasis on technical aspects and polysomnography. Over the last 10 years special interest groups in, for instance, paediatrics and diagnostic techniques, such as actigraphy, have been established so that we now provides a comprehensive resource to educational, clinical, research and technical specialties.


Past Presidents and Chairmen:

1989 – 1990 N. Douglas and C. Shapiro
1990 – 1991 I. Hindmarch
1991 – 1992 J. Stradling
1992 – 1993 C. D. Hanning
1993 – 1996 W. McNicholas
1996 – 1998 C. Idzikowski
1998 – 2001 P. Calverley
2001 – 2003 Neil Stanley
2004 – 2008 Melissa Hack
2008 – 2011 John Shneerson
2011 – 2015 Paul Reading
2015 – 2017 Mary Morrell
2017 – 2019 Tim Quinnell

Present - Joerg Steier


Number of Sleep Research Centres

These include the
Respiratory Support & Sleep Centre, Papworth Hospital, Cambridge
Glasgow Sleep Centre
University of Surrey
St Thomas’s Hospital, London
Elvina Hospital, London,
Burden Centre, Bristol,
Tom MacKay’s Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
Loughborough University,
Russell Foster’s Oxford
Mike Hastings in Cambridge regarding circadian rhythms


Accreditation / Certification procedure

The BSS previously formalised an Accreditation process for sleep centres providing polysomnography in harmony with the ESRS recommendations.
The first centre to be approved was the Respiratory Support & Sleep Centre, Papworth Hospital, Cambridge in 2011 followed by Guy’s & St Thomas’ in 2012. The procedure was suspended with the advent of other accreditation processes within the wider National Health Service but a relaunch is currently under consideration.


Educational programs

For many years we ran an Annual Scientific meeting each autumn. This was held in Cambridge from 2001. More recently venues have rotated around the country and conferences are now held biennially. The BSS has also held a Spring Technologist Conference at different locations around the country in the alternating year. Both of these meetings have proved popular with excellent feedback. In addition the Society has joined with the Belgian and Dutch Sleep Societies to co-organise the International Sleep Medicine Course (ISMC) and host this important meeting every 3 years.


Present activities, working groups, task forces

The BSS has a main Executive Committee with subcommittees focusing on Accreditation, Research and Communication.
Other work we have been involved in have included position statements such as on the use of Modafinil for conditions of excessive sleepiness other than narcolepsy and negotiating changes to the Governmental driving regulations for patients with OSA, as part of the OSA Alliance (
The society is also working with other medical specialist bodies to promote sleep medicine as a medical subspecialty in the UK.