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By: AAST Editor on August 23rd, 2018

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Mary McKinley on Managing Insomnia in Chronic Disease

Sleep Disorders | aast


Mary McKinley, R. EEG T., RPSGT, MA, is presenting the breakout session “Complementary and Integrative Therapies for the Management of Insomnia in Chronic Disease” at the AAST 2018 Annual Meeting, Sept. 28-30, 2018, in Indianapolis. We caught up with McKinley to discuss her background and the future of sleep medicine.

What is your background, and how did you get involved in the sleep field?

I started off as an R. EEG T. and found that I needed more patient contact. I was lucky enough to get hired at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in 1985, just after CPAP had been developed and when Drs. Schenck, Mahowald and Andrea Patterson, RPSGT, were in the forefront of discovering the parasomnias such as RBD. Since that time, I have gone on to open and accredit sleep centers and DMEs, as well as manage them. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I took early retirement to provide for his care. After his passing, I returned to school to complete my master’s in holistic health studies at the University of St. Catherine, and now have my own business working primarily with insomnia patients.

What is the topic of your session? What will attendees take away from it?

The topic of my session is recognizing how deeply insomnia affects our overall health, especially in those that have a concurrent chronic medical condition. Attendees will learn that there are many other methods of treatments for insomnia, especially for those who can’t or shouldn’t take a sleeping medication. They will also learn that many of those complementary therapies are free or very inexpensive, readily accessible and can be tailored to all fitness levels.

What is the biggest challenge you see sleep professionals facing currently?

In part, home sleep studies, especially when combined with auto-titrate PAP. This will potentially push sicker patients into the sleep centers, requiring more education and training for the techs. Insurance reimbursement for this higher level of care is also an issue; some of the sicker patients require a one-on-one tech/patient ratio, and that is not currently economically feasible.

How do you see the field changing in the next few years? 10 years?

I wish I had that answer. Just the changes and advancements since 1985: recognition that infants and women can have OSA; the advent of computerization; discovery of more sleep disorders; the aging population — who knows what the next few years will bring? I’d like to hope a better OSA treatment than PAP, as well as better acceptance and treatments for insomnia will rise up.