Dr. Barry is a 3rd year doctoral trainee in clinical psychology at William James College in Newton, MA. She also has 15 years of Susanna (Zan) Barry is a 3rd year doctoral trainee in clinical psychology at William James College in Newton, MA. She also has 15 years of experience working with undergraduate and graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA as part of MIT Medical, where her community health programs include stress management, mindfulness, and sleep health initiatives.

I became obsessed with behavioral sleep medicine for young adults through my work at MIT. As many know, college campuses offer opportunities to work with many aspects of behavioral sleep health. This is such a promising time for the field.  Increasingly, the patient-centered medical care model is integrating all kinds of behavioral health supports into primary care, including behavioral sleep medicine.

In my experience, sleep literacy on campuses is higher now than it was even a few years ago. Students are more savvy than ever about the importance of sleep, and are faced more than ever with challenges to getting high-quality sleep. It’s a very rewarding area in which to apply behavioral sleep medicine. Over the next two years, I will be completing an APA internship in college mental health and will be working hard to adapt behavioral sleep medicine interventions to the realities of college life.

Although I am not a researcher, I appreciate the foundational research upon which campus sleep health programs are built, including from Dr. Rachel Manber and others at Stanford. I admire the work of Dr. Allison Harvey, University of California, Berkeley, who directs the Golden Bear Sleep and Mood Research Clinic. Her contributions on the transdiagnostic mental health implications of sleep problems and her attention to young adults are invaluable to mental health providers. Dr. Colin Espie at the University of Oxford is also a wonderful advocate for the field.

My hope for the future of the field is first to reduce the devaluing of sleep. I think this needle has moved quite a bit in recent years, with the help of some high-profile advocates in the media who are raising public awareness and literacy about sleep health. Public health messages about sleep often emphasize benefits for productivity, cognitive capacity, and disease prevention. These are important motivators.

To me, the valuing of sleep is also interconnected with values that are less talked about but are deeply meaningful, such as receptivity and flexibility; dreaming and the unconscious; and the ability to balance modern demands with ancient, organismic needs.

I’d like to see further intersections between research in behavioral sleep medicine and the various forms of restorative yoga and meditation that can address hyperarousal. As a long-time mindfulness and yoga practitioner and teacher, I appreciate the inroads that Dr. Jason Ong is making with mindfulness for insomnia.

On a personal note, even with my crazy schedule, I rarely skimp on sleep – not because I know how good it is for me, but because I love it so, so much. I’m sure my clinical interest stems from my lifelong love affair with sleeping. I also love to walk everywhere whenever humanly possible. I grew up in New York City and now live in Boston, which are both great walking cities. If I can map a destination on Google, I will try to find a way to walk there. I have less time for walking now that I am balancing work at MIT, school at William James, and practice hours toward my Psy.D. Fortunately, it is all a labor of love. Love and sleep.