President’s Blog – July 2021

Greetings Colleagues,

Summer is finally here, and the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine’s 3rd annual scientific conference takes place in Nashville in just over two months – September 16th -19th!  Be sure to register by August 28th to take advantage of the early bird discount. Much has happened since our very successful virtual conference last year.  This year’s program committee, led by Dr. Eric Zhou, has prepared an incredible line up of invited speaker presentations, symposia, workshops, and poster presentations covering a variety of behavioral sleep medicine topics.  A unique feature of this year’s conference is the inclusion of two virtual conferences – one from Europe & Asia and another from Australia/New Zealand/Oceana.  Registration for the conference in Nashville includes access to both of these virtual conferences.  I encourage you to take part in these conferences as they provide unique opportunities for learning about cutting edge science, clinical practice, and advocacy in behavioral sleep medicine.  Thank you to Dr. Zhou and all of the other members of our hardworking Program Committee! Keep checking the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine website, for the latest conference updates! 

This past year has seen the SBSM rapidly respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic through the continued efforts of our COVID-19 task force originally formed during my predecessor, Dr. Don Townsend’s presidential term. As the world has continued to wage war against COVID-19, the pandemic has continued to impact each of us on a more local level, disrupting our lives both personally and professionally.  The SBSM through our COVID-19 task force, led by Dr. Chuck Crew has been at the forefront of promoting the importance of sleep as a foundational health behavior and providing key education regarding the behavioral approaches that can improve sleep and support healthy immune functioning and better coping with anxiety, stress, and depression.  Thank you to Dr. Crew and all of the other members of the task force!

This past year has also seen the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine’s continued focus on the public health crisis that sleep health disparities represent and the urgent need for more research in that area as reflected in the establishment of our diversity and inclusivity committee lead by Dr. Fiona Barwick in collaboration with the Science and Research Committee. That group met for a planning and brainstorming session at the end of last year’s scientific conference. That session resulted in multiple short-, mid- and long-term goals intended to address sleep health disparities from multiple angles from training to public education to clinical services to research. One of this committee’s initial activities was a membership survey intended to provide greater understanding of the diversity within our own membership. I am interested to see the additional initiatives this group pursues as they unfold!  Thank you to Dr. Barwick and all of the other members of this new committee!

At the beginning of my presidency, I established several work groups to address key issues facing our field and the SBSM, namely digital therapeutics, better understanding of behavioral sleep medicine providers, and societal position papers.  I am happy to report those work groups have made significant progress. One group, led by Dr. Don Townsend, has developed educational materials and societal policy related to digital therapeutics. Another group, led by Dr. Don Townsend has developed a societal survey plan.  Please be on the lookout for this group’s new member survey!  Your responses will help us to learn more about the provision of behavioral sleep medicine (Who is providing such services, what disciplines do they represent, and what settings are they practicing in?). Last but not least, a third group, led by Drs Crew and Grander, have developed of a societal plan for position papers and is in preparing to put out the call for our first position paper on digital therapeutics. Keep an eye out for that call!  Also, please share with us other important topics you would like to see the society address.  Our goal is for the SBSM to produce position papers that reflect current and cutting-edge topics in behavioral sleep science and practice. Thank you to the leaders and other members of these work groups!

These are just a few of the highlights of all of the work that has been going on behind the scenes at the SBSM over the past year.  I am looking forward to sharing more of the SBSM’s accomplishments at our annual scientific meeting this fall!  Likewise, I look forward to recognizing the important contributions of our members through our newly expanded award offerings. We will continue to offer our research focused awards for early and late career contributions and have added a new award to recognize the contributions of our mid-career scientists. We have also added 12 new awards that recognize a greater range of member activities and accomplishments that help to promote the field of behavioral sleep medicine, including clinical practice awards that recognize innovation, altruistic delivery, and contributions toward equity, diversity, and equality in the delivery of behavioral sleep medicine services. New awards also recognize advocacy by early, mid, and late career members and provide additional recognition of student scholarly activities from early, mid, and late-stage trainees.  I look forward to meeting our award winners and presenting these awards at the scientific conference this fall on September 16, 2021.  A luncheon will be served immediately following the awards recognition ceremony and will give conference attendees the opportunity to personally congratulate and interact with our award winners!

Finally, I wanted to comment on how impressed I have been with our committee and task force members.  I am not able to recognize everyone here, instead have focused on some illustrative examples.  All of our committee and task force members have been unwavering in their dedication and commitment to promoting our societal mission and pursuing multiple new and exciting initiatives this past year.  Kudos to each and every one of you for your service!  Despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, you continued to attend meetings (many, many….oh so many Zoom meetings!) and to produce new behavioral medicine education content, accredit training programs, promote behavioral sleep medicine science and clinical practice, etc.  Your work on behalf of the society is greatly appreciated!  Also, I wanted to give a special thank you to Kathryn Hansen, our Executive Director, for coordinating all of those Zoom meetings and helping to ensure the business of the society continued to run smoothly despite the ‘pandemic’ chaos of the past year.

Hope to see you in Nashville this fall!


PS - If you are not currently a member of a committee, I hope you will consider joining one in the future.  It is a great way to serve the society and field of behavioral sleep medicine.  It is also fun and provides opportunities to work closely with your fellow behavioral sleep medicine colleagues.