Ep. 07: Dr. Michael Perlis — The Latest Research on Sleep and Insomnia

Countless individuals are looking for the answer to their persistent sleep problems. Thanks to Dr. Michael Perlis, many of them are finding it.

Michael is a psychologist and sleep specialist at the University of Pennsylvania. He and his colleagues wrote a fantastic treatment manual for cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), the first-line treatment for insomnia.

If you have insomnia and haven’t tried any treatment for it, start with CBT-I. If you’ve tried everything else without much relief, try CBT-I.

As you’ll hear in our discussion, Michael is working to better understand human sleep:

  • How much sleep do we really need?
  • Why do so many of us struggle with insomnia?
  • What’s the most effective insomnia treatment?
  • Why does stress disrupt sleep? 
  • How does chronic insomnia develop?
  • What role can medication play in treating insomnia?
  • Why is it best to get out of bed when we can’t sleep?
  • Is sleep hygiene an effective treatment for insomnia? 

Michael lives close to the data as he works to build an empirical science of sleep. At the same time, he’s willing to make intriguing hypotheses about sleep based on the available evidence. For example, he wonders if a fundamental shift in how sleep medications are prescribed may be more effective, as he and I discuss.

Michael has a rich understanding of sleep and insomnia, so I’m looking forward to continuing our conversation in a follow-up podcast. I’ll provide more information later but I’ll be soliciting your questions about sleep and insomnia, which I’ll then pose to Michael in our next discussion.

Michael L. Perlis, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and Director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Penn. He is recognized internationally for his expertise in Behavioral Sleep Medicine and has co-authored multiple pioneering books in the field, including Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Insomnia: A Sessions-by-Session Guide*.

Michael is the author of over 150 articles and book chapters on sleep and he serves on the editorial board of several sleep journals. He was one of the five organizing and founding members of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine (SBSM), and served as the SBSM’s first president (2010-2011).

Learn more about Michael and his work at Penn’s Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program website.


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