In today’s world of telecommunication, e-mail, and text messaging, the importance of meeting face to face seems to have diminished to some degree. However, while people can use keystrokes like 🙂 to convey emotion, it doesn’t compare to a genuine smile, a pat on the back, or a solid high five. Relationships advance and friendships can be solidified more efficiently when done in person, and for the sleep community, there is no better place for this to occur than at the annual SLEEP conference.

For example, yesterday (at the time of writing this article), I sat with a group of sleep professionals during an evening social function at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC. The group had often conversed at, an online forum where sleep professionals communicate. When I saw these professionals get together and talk, smile, and laugh, I saw a solid bond forming—a personal friendship. Henry Johns, BS, RPSGT, CRT, CPFT, sleep center director, Pulmonary and Sleep Associates, who met with the binarysleep group, said, “You knew they were real people to begin with; you’ve always known that, but they’re out there in cyberspace. But now they’re real flesh and blood, sitting at a table with you, having more conversations about issues that surround our profession. The [online] conversations will be more meaningful now that you have a face to put with that name.”

SLEEP 2007 also served as a destination to meet leading sleep medicine researchers. We can read about brilliant research and link to references online, and while these findings, of course, are meant to be read, it can take on new meaning when you meet the researcher in person. When I heard the acceptance speech from Mary A. Carskadon, PhD, winner of the distinguished scientist award, I could hear the passion for her work in her voice. Before hearing her acceptance speech, I knew that Carskadon is fully committed to the sleep community, but that fact took on new meaning at this year’s SLEEP conference.

By taking the time to gather together, many people at the SLEEP conference could also have the great experience of hearing William C. Dement, MD, PhD, the father of sleep, play the upright bass with a live band. (See a picture of Dr Dement performing on the right.)

The SLEEP conference was also an ideal place to meet Sleep Review readers face to face. Although people within the sleep community don’t always have the benefit of meeting in person, it is important to make the effort to do so when possible. Human interaction brings life to our experiences. In the case of the SLEEP conference, attendees could meet the researchers behind the findings, participate in the conference dialogue, and develop friendships with members of the sleep community.

Now that the conference has come to an end, it is important to keep the dialogue going. Sleep Review always enjoys your feedback. If you missed SLEEP 2007, you can read about the highlights as reported in Sleep Report, our weekly e-newsletter.

—Franklin A. Holman
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