By: Rafael Pelayo, MD, FAASM

Dear California Sleep Society,

I hope you are as safe and healthy as possible during this time.  It has become routine for the sleep professionals in our state to see patients via Zoom and to wear full PPE when working with patients in the sleep lab.  Making things even worse the pandemic really has accentuated the healthcare disparities that have been present in sleep medicine.  The need for our patients to receive sleep medicine services never decreased during the pandemic.  If anything, many people starting sleeping worse due to stress.  But how to deliver those needed services has been the challenge we have all needed to face.  Results are mixed but overall it looks like we are trending in the right direction.  All of you personally know how apocalyptic things seemed at this time last year.  Many of us have lost loves ones during this time.

As all of you know, we lost our field’s founder, Bill Dement, this summer.  One of the things he talked to us about at one of his many talks at our annual meetings was how our current California Sleep Society is not the first version of a state based professional society for the sleep community.  He warned us that prior versions had failed and to remain vigilant.  He told us not take for granted the viability of our society.  His sage advice is often on my mind as we drive to steer ourselves during the ongoing pandemic.  When we were forced to cancel our annual in person meeting I feared the CSS was going to go under.  The annual meeting, along with our membership dues has been our primary source of funding.  As sleep professionals lost their jobs our membership revenue also took a hit.  Those of us who volunteer on the board of the CSS, with the help of society’s administrator, Xenicus, needed to carefully consider our financial options.  At one point it seemed our only viable option was to take out a loan to keep our society afloat.  The loan would have potentially forced future, as of yet unelected and unnamed board members to guaranty payment.  Maybe some of you reading this newsletter would have been saddled with that obligation.  Xenicus helped identify some funding including gratefully the AASM providing grants to state sleep societies.  This took some of the pressure off but we were still expecting a short fall and possible collapse of the CSS.

We decided to have faith in our membership and roll the dice on hosting a virtual sleep meeting.  Thankfully our members and supporting vendors came through.  We held at successful meeting which was presided by Dr. Anoop Karippot.  Anoop led not only a quality educational experience but was creative in also making it fun.  We are not entirely out of the woods yet, but we are now on less shaky financial ground.  A heartfelt thanks to all of you that participated.  I wanted to share this information with you because as this was all happening we were receiving requests from some of our members to not charge admission for the sleep meeting.  It was difficult to turned down those requests.  Hopefully you can understand why this was not feasible at the time.

We have enough optimism to have begun planning for an in-person meeting in San Diego on October l-2 2021!  The fluctuating news cycles make me wonder if we are going to pull this off, but the news is looking better than ever.  We will likely never take for granted how fortunate we are to meet in person.  Please take a moment right now and reserve this date in your calendar.  Let’s together commit to make this the biggest CSS meeting ever!!

If any of you have topics you want covered at the meeting, want to volunteer to speak, have an idea to make it more fun, or have a product to exhibit please contact us now.  No need to wait.  We are going to have this meeting and this society belongs to you.

The CSS has been active in other areas over the past few months.  You can be proud that we were the first professional organization to agree to endorse the international Summit on Adolescent Sleep and School Start Times held at Stanford last month.  You can see in the diagram below from the summit’s website our logo along with many other prestigious organizations.  The primary goal of the meeting was to come up with research guidelines for the outcome of California’s law protecting the sleep health of adolescents.  The proceedings of this meeting will be submitted for peer review publication.  Among international adolescent sleep health researchers, the eyes of the world are on California.  We will need volunteers from the CSS membership to also be available to talk to local schools and community groups about the importance of sleep.

The California Sleep Society also officially supported the AASM’s initiative to stop changing our clocks twice a year for daylight saving.  As a sleep deprived society, we simply cannot afford to keep giving up an hour of sleep.  Converting this health policy into law will take a national effort.  Undoubtedly California is expected to play an important part.  Our state has already previously held a symbolic statewide referendum to end this practice.  Please join us in our effort to allow the entire nation a chance to get more sleep.

In the end, the pandemic has proven that we cannot survive as a society without our members strong support.  Please renew your memberships even if you are not going to attend the annual meeting.  Also, please encourage your colleagues to also join the CSS.  The CSS was born out of a need to protect the rights of sleep technologists to deliver health services in our state.  The CSS needs to now expand to the broader sleep community in California to include basic science researchers and lab technologists.  We need to expand to also include sleep clinic administrators and lab managers.  Please tell us of what we need to offer at our meeting to make it more attractive to sleep professionals who have not been attending.  Tell us what we need to do to support your work as sleep professionals in our state.  Think about what YOU can do to further our mission.

The nightmare is receding.

Rafael Pelayo, MD, FAASM, President California Sleep Society

Endorsing organizations for the adolescent sleep health summit