FEATURED TRAINEE - CHRISTINA PIERPAOLI PARKER, PHD STUDENT
HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN BSM?
I’ve always had an interest in sleep, which grew substantially during my clinical experiences practicing behavioral weight loss medicine. Several well established physiological, cognitive, and behavioral mechanisms link metabolic syndrome to sleep dysregulation. I found myself regularly educating patients about these connections— referring out for sleep studies, assessing, as well as targeting patients’ sleep complaints as part of providing comprehensive behavioral weight loss treatment. When I learned that the second accredited Behavioral Sleep Medicine clinic in Alabama had opened just two floors up from the weight clinic (kismet!),
I promptly sought opportunities to grow the breadth and depth of my training there. As my training deepened, so did my appreciation for sleep medicine as a powerful, foundational behavioral treatment for many clinical problems, including weight and pain management, Alzheimer’s and diabetes prevention, ADHD symptoms, as well as for trauma, anxiety, and depression.
WHO ARE YOUR BSM MENTORS?
Proximally, Justin Thomas, PhD, DBSM – who started the second accredited Behavioral Sleep Medicine clinic in the state of Alabama. Distally, the other “greats” including Kenny Lichstein, Wiliam Dement, Peter Hauri, Dick Bootzin, and Michael Perlis have also heavily influenced my thinking. Most recently, so has Matthew Walker.
WHAT ARE YOUR CAREER GOALS?
Always evolving, but likely involving establishing an integrated aging optimization research clinic. Beyond providing a research setting where students could train academically and clinically, I imagine it as a “one stop shop” for older adults seeking evidence-based preventative and/or early intervention behavioral treatments for sleep, weight and pain management, mood disturbance, diet, and even sexual functioning. I also anticipate that continuing to write about the science of aging and health (i.e. via blogs, columns, books) for larger lay audiences will play a significant part in however my career ends up looking.
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SBSM IN 10 YEARS?
As a (seriously) recognized and applied behavioral intervention for preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In 2018,
Shokri-Korjori et al. demonstrated— experimentally— that losing just one night of sleep led to an increase in beta-amyloid, a protein heavily implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. To promote the clinical power (and presence) of sleep medicine, current models of care must evolve to integrate BSM providers within and beyond traditional sleep settings, including primary care, neurology as well as general and specialty geriatrics clinics. Making BSM a mandatory part of comprehensive (gero)psychological and medical training can help to shift the clinical paradigm at the academic level.
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT VACATIOBN OR DREAM VACATION DESTINATION?
Leaving for Cuba with my husband Jack at the end of this month! Any recommendations?
WHAT RESOURCES HAVE HELPED TO ADVANCE YOUR TRAINING?
Of course, combined research and clinical BSM experiences offer the best resources. But, for reading:
• Treating Sleep Disorders –Perlis & Lichstein (a bible of sorts);
• Behavioral Treatments for Sleep Disorders: A Comprehensive Primer of Behavioral Sleep Medicine – Perlis, Aloia, & Kuhn
• No More Sleepless Nights— Hauri, Linde, & Westbrook
• Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams – Walker
• Shokri-Kojori et al. (2018). ß-Amyloid accumulation in the human brain after one night of sleep deprivation.
• Mender, B.A., Winder, J. R., & Walker, M.P. (2017). Sleep and human aging.
• Scullin, M.K., and Bliwise, D.L. (2015). Sleep, cognition, and normal aging: Integrating a half-century of multidisciplinary research.
• Diekelmann, S. & Born, J. (2010). The memory function of sleep.
• Mazzotti, D.R. et al. (2014). Human longevity is associated with regular sleep patterns, maintenance of slow wave sleep, and favorable lipid profile.
• Christina McCrae’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi) manual
• Episode #47, Parts I—III of The Peter Attia Drive Podcast - Matthew Walker on Sleep: https://peterattiamd.com/matthewwalker1/
These resources have helped me most, so far.