Sleep Session

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I am currently attending an almost week-long international physicians’ convention in a city I have never been before. Doctors are required to garner certain amount of hours of continuing medical education (CME) to maintain their certification. Besides, I try to stay updated with the most current practice of Medicine (aside from being updated with blogging!), to stay competitive and relevant.

Of course the real reason for going to these conferences is that it gives me and my family a reason to travel. This year, it brought us to the “city of brotherly love,” Philadelphia. (I’ll write about Philadelphia in another post.)

Liberty Bell

Attending these conferences may make me feel smart, but with all these very intelligent speakers who come from the most prestigious academic centers around the world and who are on the top of their game, sometimes makes me feel otherwise. In other words, it makes me feel down-right ignoramus. When they start mentioning these current studies or researches that I have never heard before, and talking high-falutin technological terms that sounds Greek (and the speaker was not even from Greece) to me, I often wonder, am I the only one who is not getting this?

I often times look around the room to see the consensus response, and most attendees seems to be nodding their heads, indicating that they understand what the speaker is saying. Or maybe they are just nodding to fake it off (some doctors will not admit that they don’t know). Or maybe they are nodding, because they are sleepy.

On the first day of the meeting, I enrolled in an 8-hour long course on the technological advances in Sleep Medicine. Sleep Medicine is one of my subspecialties by default. With the prevalence of sleep apnea, which is arguably the most common sleep disorder seen, thus the management of sleep diseases falls on the lap of lung specialists.

Lobby of Philadelphia Convention Center

I was still weary from the travel and was still trying to adapt to the time difference (Philadelphia time is an hour advance than Des Moines), when the seminar started early in the morning. I don’t envy those attendees from other countries who have to battle greater jet lag. It was kind of ironic that here we were, attending a sleep seminar and we ourselves were sleep deprived.

By the way, habitual sleep deprivation due to poor lifestyle choices, is the most common cause of daytime sleepiness in our current society, more than any sleep disorder, including sleep apnea.

I was able to stay awake for the first speaker who spoke for about an hour. By the second speaker, I was really fighting doziness and was just trying to keep my eyes open, even though my brain was already half asleep.  It did not help that the subject the presenter was discussing was difficult with a lot of technical jargon.

As the lecture continued, I cannot contend any longer. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. So I did the best thing a sleep specialist will advise for any sleep deprived individual. I slept.

It was a “sleep session” after all.


  1. Did you fall asleep at the seminar? Or were you able to remove yourself from there and into the comfort of pillow and blanket in your room? Like most MDs who have gone through on-call nights, we all develop the ability to sleep standing up, eyes open, on chairs, on tables, on window ledges, in the tiniest couches, the nurses’ station, the dictating room, wherever….. remember?

      1. I wish I could do that. My hubby is adept at it too. He swears by the 15-20 minute nap after lunch when he can afford it. He says he’s reenergized. I can’t nap during the day. More often than not, I wake up with a headache or a heavy feeling. Even if it’s for less than half an hour. Diagnosis?

      2. There’s nothing wrong with not able to take a nap during the day. In fact, it is the opposite. People who fall asleep within 5 minutes or less to take a nap, can be a sign of “sleep debt” or being sleep deprived. But if you would like to take a nap during the day, don’t make it more than 30 minutes for “sleep inertia” will set in. That is, it will be harder for your body to get going again and that can explain for the heavy feeling or headache.

      3. I envy power nappers. I can’t nap. I get the headaches. My hubby is refreshed even after a short nap. Like I said, even if I try for 15-20 minutes, I wake up feeling worse.

  2. I love power naps! Sometimes I go to my car in the car park at work during my lunch break and sleep. True. And wonderful.

    Love this post. Interesting, and great photos.

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