On Wednesday, May 20, several members of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine board of directors traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate on behalf of our membership and the field of sleep medicine.

The AASM presented a robust case on Capitol Hill for the importance of healthy sleep, conducting 24 targeted meetings with federal lawmakers. We stressed the importance of sleep friendly policy such as Seniors Sleep, a measure that would include a free, preventative sleep screening as part of the Welcome to Medicare package, directing millions of seniors to quality sleep care.

In a collaborative effort, the AASM also hosted a congressional briefing, Sleep and Obesity: a Public Health Epidemic, with the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). I had the distinct privilege of joining ASMBS President Dr. John Morton in briefing congressional staff on the clear link between obesity and sleep disease.

Prior to Wednesday’s briefing and meetings, AASM President-Elect Dr. Nathaniel Watson met with Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a strategic discussion on how to tackle the widespread problem of drowsy driving. I thank Drs. Morton and Rosekind for supporting our advocacy endeavors, and I look forward to working together with their organizations to improve public health and safety by promoting healthy sleep.

With all of the changes occurring both to the U.S. health care system and the field of sleep medicine, the AASM must be pro-active in health policy, bringing physician voices to the legislative table. However, it is only through hands-on member participation that we can ensure that these voices are heard.

I urge you to contact your representatives: Call their office, drop them an email, or schedule a meeting in your home district. Don’t know how to contact your representative, or what to discuss? Please use the AASM Advocacy Toolkit as your guide. Don’t have the time to advocate personally for your field? You can help ensure the AASM’s political access by making a contribution to the AASM Political Action Committee (AASM PAC).

Through meetings with lawmakers, legislative efforts, and strategic partnerships, the AASM will continue to advocate for sleep medicine while promoting high quality, patient-centered care.


Timothy Morgenthaler, MD

Drs. Watson, Chervin and Morgenthaler on Capitol Hill

Dr. Nathaniel Watson with Washington state Rep. Jim McDermott

Dr. Nathaniel Watson with Washington state Rep. Derek Kilmer

Dr. Morgenthaler at congressional briefing on sleep and obesity