Morris Chang, M.D.: Welcome to My Sleep Medicine Blog Site

Hello everyone!  Dr. Morris here writing my inaugural blog post on this site.  Thank you for starting this great new journey with me!

I’d like to start by telling you why I started this blog site.  There aren’t a lot of things that every single human being has to do.  Everyone needs to eat.  Everyone needs to breathe.  And everyone needs to SLEEP.  Sleep is a biological requirement, plain and simple, something we all must do regularly to remain alive, functional, and healthy.  Yet, as you are probably aware, problems with sleep are incredibly prevalent.  In the United States, one-third of adults have at least occasional but clinically significant insomnia, for example.  6-10% of American adults have obstructive sleep apnea.  10% of American adults have restless leg syndrome.  There are 94 sleep disorders recognized by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders.  Sleep problems compromise the lives of millions and millions of people every night, resulting in a multitude of problems as dire and far-reaching as marital discord, chronic daytime sleepiness, sexual and social dysfunction, fall-asleep car crashes, depression, impaired work productivity, heart disease, and sudden death during sleep.  Within the realm of medicine exists a small but very important subspecialty–known as somnology or sleep medicine–which is devoted to the evaluation, diagnosis, and management of problems with sleep.  This is what I practice:  I am a physician sleep specialist.  And I love what I do.

I pledge to commit the vast majority of future blog posts to you and/or your loved ones, who may have sleeping problems.  However, as I believe it important for readers to understand and get to know the person producing the words they’re reading, I would like to devote the remainder of this initial post to my history and how I came to do what I do today.  I appreciate your allowing me the opportunity to tell you briefly my story.

I was born in DeKalb, Illinois.  When I was two, my parents moved me and my younger brother to Whitewater, Wisconsin, where we lived until I was seven.  We then moved to Wichita, Kansas, where I spent the remainder of my childhood.  I went to college at the University of Kansas, where intense studying as a chemistry major and pre-med student was punctuated by, well, quite a bit of fun, including many nights at Allen Fieldhouse cheering on our perennially great basketball team.  I also graduated from medical school at KU, making me an eight-year Jayhawk, something of which I am very proud.

After obtaining my medical degree, I left the midwest to explore living and undergoing my postgraduate education in a totally different environment.  I completed my internship in internal medicine at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, and then my residency and chief residency in neurology at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, New Hampshire.  What an incredible, mind-expanding experience that was, coming to know a completely different part of our country and making so many new acquaintances and friends from backgrounds and places very different from mine.  In every way imaginable, it was an education of a lifetime.  Following completion of my residency, I moved to Seattle, where I completed fellowships in clinical neurophysiology, epilepsy, and sleep medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.  Additional graduate and post-graduate education over the years took place at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and the University of Minnesota School of Medicine in Minneapolis.  I’m proud to say I was mentored by great professors through the years, including Maurice Victor, Peter Williamson, Mark Mahowald, Carlos Schenck, and Vishesh Kapur.  From kindergarten to the end of my fellowships, I spent 27 years being schooled!

I am now in my thirteenth year of clinical practice in the Seattle area, primarily in south Puget Sound.  I am board-certified in both neurology and sleep medicine, but I practice sleep medicine full-time.  Why sleep medicine?  Simply speaking, it’s a blast.  I can help the vast majority of my patients sleep better and feel better during the day.  I can actually cure sleep problems.  I spend most of my time evaluating patients face-to-face, interpreting diagnostic testing if appropriate, treating sleep problems, and managing patients longterm.  It’s incredibly gratifying to help people, from hardcore insomniacs to lifetime “heroic” snorers, improve their health and quality of life.  I have additional duties:  I am the medical director for two American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredited sleep centers; I have sat on various hospital-based, regional, and national committees over the years; I have published articles in New England Journal of Medicine and Neurology; I thoroughly enjoy public speaking as well, and I deliver talks regularly to various groups and organizations on matters pertaining to sleep.  My favorite part of the workday, however, remains seeing my patients through their diagnosis and treatment for sleep problems and helping lives improve.

My path to sleep medicine was also informed by more personal experiences.  Though I generally sleep very well, I’ve had the occasional night of poor sleep, as many of us have.  My mother, a retired businesswoman, has had fluctuating insomnia for many years.  My late father, a professor and criminologist, had REM behavior disorder (RBD), a disorder in which one physically enacts one’s dreams.  Having trained with Mark Mahowald and Carlos Schenck, who were instrumental in the discovery and initial characterization of RBD, I have now been involved in the care of a great many patients with RBD, and in every case I think back to my dad, who I miss dearly every day.

I’m happily married to Melissa, a pharmacist.  We have two wonderful boys, Nathan and Colin, who keep our lives boisterous and exciting, and a super-cute Maltese named Molly.  I love to read–I’m in the middle of 2-3 books at all times–and to write.  I’ve now lived on both coasts, but the midwest will always be my true home; I continue to root for my Jayhawks, particularly around March Madness time!  I got my private pilot license when I was seventeen, having mowed yards and washed dishes to pay for my lessons.  I ski, scuba dive, and play sports with my boys.  We travel as much as possible, and embrace new experiences in different places.  I belong to several service organizations, and I am a proud Rotarian.  A primary passion in my life, outside of my family, friends, and work, is music.  It’s one of those things that makes life great for me.  I play drums, percussion, keyboards, and alto saxophone.  I’ve been in numerous rock-n-roll and blues bands for many years; these days, I have been exploring and performing primarily Brazilian music with two area bands.  I love many musical genres, but my iPod songs that get the most play are classic country, classic rock, cool-period jazz, early alternative, new country, and samba/raggae.

Thank you for indulging me.  Future posts will now be all about YOU:  what sleep problems you may have, how to identify them, how to fix them.  I welcome input and questions, and will do my very best to respond to inquiries and comments as I get them.  I look forward to helping you sleep like a champ.

“I love sleep.  My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” — Ernest Hemingway

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20 comments on “Morris Chang, M.D.: Welcome to My Sleep Medicine Blog Site

  1. punkrgrl says:

    Sleep is a gift, one to be cherished.

  2. Randy Crane says:

    Getting to sleep is horrible for me. Just when I’m relaxed and according to my wife, asleep, my left foot twitches unvoluntarily. From that point forward, getting to sleep is a struggle. This is making me crazy.

  3. Ruth Yoon says:

    Thanks for the overview of your background. I only knew about part of it. Looking forward to reading your posts on sleep.

  4. Karen Huteson says:

    Sleep is a wonderful thing.

  5. Dan Root, M.D. says:

    Looks great. Anyone coming to this blog will get great advise from one of the greatest and passionate clinicians I know!

  6. Thank you Dr. Chang for giving me some insight into what you do and where your passions lie. I am very interested to learn more about this area of health and wellness that you are able to provide to your clients. Sleep is very necessary and crucial to overall health. Looking forward to your future posts.

  7. Sylvia Wilson says:

    Thank you for sharing your blog with me and others. Reading about your life path and interests was fun and enlightening! Now I want to see and hear the musician side of the doctor I know and admire! Keep up the good work! You’ve done wonders for me and I am extremely grateful!

  8. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find
    this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of
    it!

    • Thank you for your comments! There certainly are a lot of things about sleep that are not fully understood (we in science actually don’t know all of the reasons why we sleep at all!), but many of the management techniques for certain sleep problems can be very simple, but can also be made much more confusing and complicated than they need to be. I hope to be able to shed a little light on some of this! I appreciate your thoughts very much! Cheers

  9. Definitely believe that which you said. Your favourite justification appeared
    to be on the web the simplest thing to take into account of.
    I say to you, I definitely get annoyed at the
    same time as other people consider issues that they plainly do not recognise about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the highest as well as outlined
    out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal.
    Will likely be again to get more. Thank you

  10. I thinnk what you published made a great deal of sense.
    However, what about this? what if you wrote a catchier title?
    I am not suggesting your content is not good., but what if you added
    a title that grabbed people’sattention? I meaan Morris Chang, M.D.:
    Welcome to My Sleep Medicine Bllog Site Dr.
    Morris’ Sleep Help Desk is a little boring.
    You ought to peek at Yahoo’s front page and see how they create postt
    headlines to gab people tto click. You might try adding a
    video or a related picture or two tto get people interested about what you’ve written. Just my
    opinion, it would make your website a little livelier.

    • Wow, those are great ideas! Thank you so much. I admit I have not spent as much time figuring out how to add more “pizzazz” to the site as I’d like. I plan on doing some revamping of my site into the new year. I’ll take a look at the page you mention! Thank you again and thanks for stopping by my site! Cheers

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