Patients struggling with mild insomnia—or who are simply seeking a better night’s rest—learned mind-body approaches to achieve healthier sleep at a new four-week series of group medical visits that launched in June at the Center for Wellness at UW Health at The American Center.
The series was co-led by David Kiefer, MD, a clinical assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) and the medical director of the UW Health Integrative Health Clinic, and Katie Schwartz, BSN, a fitness supervisor at The American Center.
Each session began with a brief physical exam and focused history by Dr. Kiefer, followed by a group check-in about recent progress or challenges. Each session also included mind-body activities such as meditation or T’ai Chi.
Dr. Kiefer then led discussions on topics such as:
- Sleep-related resources at UW Health, including Wisconsin Sleep and behavioral health services;
- The role of circadian rhythm, melatonin and the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in regulating sleep;
- Herbal medicines, teas or dietary supplements that may promote better sleep, and how to use them safely and effectively;
- Achieving good “sleep hygiene”;
- How integrative health treatments such as acupuncture or acupressure can help improve sleep; and
- Self-care resources, including phone apps, for improving sleep.
Social Support and Self-Care
This series, like other group medical visits at the Center for Wellness, offers participants an opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another.
“These visits can be a great source of social support,” Dr. Kiefer notes. “In the group conversations, patients discuss their challenges with sleep, things they’ve tried on their own, what worked for them and what didn’t work.”
The format also dovetails well with Dr. Kiefer’s expertise in integrative health.
“Integrative health offers many self-care options, with healthy sleep being just one of them,” he explains. “Though these visits, I can empower people to care for themselves, while providing guidance on what is safe and effective.”
Dr. Kiefer emphasizes that the series is not designed for patients who have serious sleep conditions. If a patient were to present with a specific sleep disorder, Dr. Kiefer would encourage them to follow up with their primary care physician and/or seek specialty care.
Future Series on Healthy Digestion
This fall, Dr. Kiefer and Schwartz will co-lead another series of group medical visits focused on healthy digestion. That series will also be held at the Center for Wellness, with hands-on experiences at the Learning Kitchen.
Starting next year, they hope to offer both sets of group medical visits twice a year.
Other collaborations between the DFMCH and the Center for Wellness include a group medical visit series on healthy aging led by Professor (CHS) Melissa Stiles, MD, and wellness consultations led by Lisa Simpson, PA-C, a physician assistant at the UW Health DeForest-Windsor Clinic.
(Lisa Grant, DO, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Medicine’s Division of General Internal Medicine, also leads similar wellness consultations at the Center for Wellness.)
For more information about this series or others, or to register, visit the Center for Wellness’ Group Medical Visits web page or call (608) 440-6600.
Published: July 2019