The sleep community has finally gotten deserving press that may also provide some solace for MJ fans. This week, Dr. Chuck Czeisler–one of the world’s experts on basic and clinical sleep research–served as an expert witness in the involuntary manslaughter trial against MJ’s doctor, Conrad Murray. According to medical records, Murray had given MJ routine injections of propofol, an anesthetic, for 60 days. During this time, MJ complained of anxiety, paranoia, an inability to concentrate, learn and remember new dance moves, and experienced a host of other symptoms common of someone suffering from a lack of REM sleep. Studies in humans and rodents have shown that propofol prevents mammals from entering REM sleep and thus, from completing a full sleep cycle. The most famous study demonstrating the importance of REM sleep for a healthy body and mind derives from the lab of Alan Rechtshaffen at the University of Chicago. In the 1980s, Rechtshaffen and his trainees found that depriving mice of entering REM sleep inevitably led to episodes of anxiety and an inability to thermoregulate en route to death. This study has been highly criticized for its experimental design because the animals were constantly falling into water, which wreaks havoc on the body’s thermoregulatory system, whenever they entered REM sleep. Regardless, follow-up studies in rodents and humans with improved experimental designs have recapitulated these findings.

Rest in peace, MJ. Justice will be served.