FEATURED MEMBER - Chien-Ming Yang, PhD, CBSM

What is the next step that you plan on taking either in your research program or clinical practice?

CHIEN-MING YANG, PHD, CBSMCurrently I am working on topics including cancer-related insomnia, psychological factors of long-term hypnotic use, differentiation of BSM treatment for different subtypes of insomnia, etc. My future research plan will go toward two opposite directions: one is to study more basic sleep mechanisms and to understand the clinical phenomenon from fundamental sleep science. The other direction is to apply the newer technologies to the prevention and treatment of various sleep disorders. 

HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALIZE IN BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE (WHAT GOT YOU STARTED, WHO DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK WITH ALONG THE WAY)?

Like many of the specialists in the field, I did not plan to specialize in BSM.

These was no such field called “behavioral sleep medicine” by the time I started involving with sleep works. I went to the Psychology Department of the City University of New York to pursuit the doctoral degree of in 1992. I wanted to study clinical neuropsychology originally. The professor who was specialized in clinical neuropsychology served as the Dean and was not taking students. Dr. John Antrobus, one of the earlier researchers studied dreaming process from neurocognitive perspective, took me into his laboratory. He was at that time doing research on speech perception and neural network. I was interested in the theoretical part of his work but wanted to work on clinical patients. He then introduced me to Arthur Spielman. Before that, I did not know the existence of the field of sleep medicine and did not know who Art was, but I took the chance to give it a try. Art led me to the fascinating world of sleep research and sleep medicine.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE FIELD IN 10 YEARS?

I would like to see the field of BSM as well as the SBSM getting more internationalized in 10 years. With the endeavors of many BSM pioneers, the field has established very solid foundation both theoretically and technically. However, the dissemination of this great field is still limited primarily in the North America and some European countries. Lately, more and more professionals from different parts of the world got training in BSM and some, like myself, moved back to their own countries to establish this field. As the leading academic organization of BSM, I would like to see the SBSM to play a major role in establishing the connection of BSM experts and to facilitate the interaction and collaboration among them.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO EARLY CAREER INDIVIDUALS, OR THOSE RE-SPECIALIZING INTO BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE?

BSM is a fascinating field. In my view, sleep is like a window to get into people’s mind. You can work on sleep and only sleep, but you can also go further into the association of sleep with an individual’s consciousness states, cognition, emotion, physiology, health, etc. People may not want to talk to you about their inner thoughts, but they usually are willing to talk to you about their sleep. If you are interested in becoming a specialist in this field, there are two features of BSM that I think is important to be always kept in mind. The first feature is that the field is based on solid foundation of sleep science. This is what make it work well and been accepted by the other specialists. If you are from a field that does not emphasize sleep science, I would recommend you to take your time to learn the scientific bases of sleep. This would be of great help not only academically but also in the practice of BSM. Secondly, sleep medicine is an interdisciplinary field. This is what make the field so interesting and stimulating. It is important to be open to the input from all the other fields related to sleep medicine. I rarely encountered a patient with pure behavioral issues. If you could get your training in a sleep medicine setting with an interdisciplinary team, take the opportunity to interact with specialists from different fields and to learn from them.

WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP THAT YOU PLAN ON TAKING EITHER IN YOUR RESEARCH PROGRAM OR CLINICAL PRACTICE?

Currently I am working on topics including cancer-related insomnia, psychological factors of long-term hypnotic use, differentiation of BSM treatment for different subtypes of insomnia, etc. My future research plan will go toward two opposite directions: one is to study more basic sleep mechanisms and to understand the clinical phenomenon from fundamental sleep science.

The other direction is to apply the newer technologies to the prevention and treatment of various sleep disorders.