Dare to Dream Physician Travel Podcast

Episode 121: Sleep Tips for Travel with Dr. Nishi Bhopal

December 18, 2023 Dare to Dream Physician Episode 121
Dare to Dream Physician Travel Podcast
Episode 121: Sleep Tips for Travel with Dr. Nishi Bhopal
Show Notes Transcript

This week on the Dare to Dream Physician Travel Podcast, I'm thrilled to have a guest who truly embodies the spirit and name of this podcast. In just a few years, Dr. Nishi Bhopal has built the job and travel lifestyle that she always dreamed of by following her inner voice and aligning herself with her values. 

Dr. Bhopal is a board-certified Psychiatrist, Sleep Medicine Doctor, and Integrative Holistic Medicine physician, and prior to 2019, she had been working as a W2 employee in a pretty conventional psychiatry practice. In this position, however, she wasn't able to really provide the holistic treatment for patients that she wanted to be able to offer. So she took a deep breath, a leap of faith, and founded Pacific Integrative Psychiatry - a telemedicine practice based out of San Francisco where patients receive a whole-person approach to anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders, including nutrition, psychotherapy, and integrative and functional medicine.

Fast forward a couple of years and the business is thriving, she is happier than ever with medicine, she has founded IntraBalance, an educational platform for physicians and therapists that offers courses and videos on clinical sleep medicine- and my favorite part of her story, she is traveling the world!

In this episode, you'll hear about:

  • Dr. Bhopal's introduction to and journey with sleep medicine.
  • Expert tips to tackle jet-lag
  • Trip planning to optimize sleep
  • Dr. Bhopal's top-five favorite places in the world.
  • The growth opportunities that travel presents.
  • Dr. Bhopal's wisdom for building your dream life.

I really hope you enjoy this episode and I hope that it inspires you to Dare to Dream!

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Dr. Weili Gray:

Welcome back to another episode of the Dare to Dream Physician travel podcast. I am so excited for this week's episode. I am going to feature this really cool doctor. She has a really cool job that she created for herself and an amazing lifestyle. And not only that, she is also a world traveler and has gone to really amazing places that she's going to share with us on the podcast. So I'm super excited to invite her to the podcast. Her name is Dr. Nishi Bhopal and I'm going to have her introduce herself. But, you know, in the short time of just interacting with her, I love her energy. I love her vision and I love that she's really, you know, just living her dream life. And I can't wait to hear all about it. Welcome. Welcome to the podcast.

Dr. Bhopal:

Oh, thanks so much for having me. It's been super fun just kind of chatting before, and yeah, I'm excited to get into the episode today.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Yeah. So tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, you know, what you practice, where you live, you know, what, what you're currently doing to help patients and physicians.

Dr. Bhopal:

Sure. So I'm a psychiatrist and sleep medicine physician, and I also practice through an integrative holistic lens, and I'm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. So I help patients in a couple of ways. I've got a private practice. It's called Pacific Integrative Psychiatry, and we're an online telehealth practice in California. So we see patients all across the state, and we help them with anxiety, depression, and sleep issues using an integrative approach. So what that means is we use conventional psychiatry, some medication, psychotherapy, but we also blend that with nutrition and gut health and sleep optimization and supplements when appropriate and things like this. And then the other thing I have is an online platform where I teach clinicians, so I teach physicians and therapists about integrative sleep medicine because most doctors only get about two hours of sleep medicine education during medical school, but all of our patients have to sleep, right, so it's important that all clinicians have this basic knowledge in sleep medicine that we're just not exposed to unless you do a sleep fellowship. So I do that through YouTube and online courses.

Dr. Weili Gray:

That's so awesome. And as the listeners probably know by now, I'm also a sleep physician and I actually do I practice in a real critical asbestos hospital, but I do incorporate a lot of the integrative and holistic medicine as well. And when you say that most physicians, you know, don't really have much sleep training in their curriculum. It's so true. And think about the culture of medicine. Like we're, we're really anti sleep, right? I mean, that's like how you get through medical school and residency. And I remember I was an anesthesia resident. That's my primary specialty and it was very unusual at the time. And I'm sure even now, you know, to go into sleep medicine from that specialty. And I, I remember my attendings. When they heard that I was doing this, some of them were like, wow, interesting. And then of course they would share about like their own sleep problems. Because anesthesia, there's a lot of shift work and, and just kind of this, you know, stressful, stressful work. And so a lot of them have insomnia. So, you know, I'm hearing all these problems about their sleep. I'm like, wow. And they don't know how to fix it. They're just like, well, I take an Ambien and I go in my basement and just tell everyone to be quiet. And so I think it is great that you sort of found this gap in physicians and I guess therapists too. I mean, that's true because even finding there's such a big behavioral component in sleep and as a sleep doctor, I am having to fill in those gaps because I can't find a therapist or a psychologist who can help my patients in that way.

Dr. Bhopal:

It's so true, and one of the reasons I got interested in sleep was kind of for very selfish reasons, right? Like, Just to help myself, because I remember being so exhausted during residency. There was one morning where I was just so burned out. I was so sleep deprived that I just burst into tears before I even went to my shift, right? Cause I'm like, Oh my God, I've got this like 30 hour shift ahead of me and I'm so tired. Like, how am I going to get through this? And that feeling was just horrible. And then I found out from one of my senior residents that she was going into a sleep fellowship. And at that time, this was like more than 10 years ago now, at that time, I was like, that's a thing. I didn't know you could study at sleep. I never even really thought about that. And so that kind of sparked my interest in sleep and learning more about what that was, because as you were saying, like even us as physicians, we don't get much training in it. And then we don't know how to deal with it on our own. And then I was doing my psych residency and there's such a bi directional relationship between mental health and sleep. Right? And so, like, I'm seeing these patients with anxiety and depression and they're having trouble sleeping and I wasn't really learning about how to help them with that aspect. So that kind of sparked my interest in learning more. I mean, you did a sleep fellowship too, and so you know that in sleep fellowship we mostly learn about sleep disordered breathing. Right? We learn how to treat sleep apnea. Maybe we learn a little bit about CBT I. And that's about it. So even as sleep physicians, I feel like our education is really limited. So even after my fellowship, that's where I really felt like I got into the meat of integrative sleep, holistic medicine, and all of these other things that we're not exposed to that are actually going to help our patients move the needle when it comes to their sleep quality.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Absolutely. Yeah, I agree so much. I, I, I think now this is my ninth year as a sleep physician attending and I just I feel feel like I'm learning new things and learning new ways to help my patients, learning things just by listening to my patients, you know, cause I learned about what sort of sleep problems are out there and how things are related. And then when I don't know exactly how to help them, I sort of try to brainstorm from the tools that I have, but then I'm finding new ways of applying even things that I know. And it's, it's really exciting. And of course, As a field, it's a very young field and it's so funny because the patients were like, well, my grandfather, he probably had sleep apnea because I heard him stop breathing. And I'm like, yeah, they didn't even know what sleep apnea was, right? When your grandfather was having sleep apnea. So, and, and now we're, we're really kind of looking at the physiology of the brain and, and, you know, the functions in sleep. And I think, to me, it's, it's really hard to practice sleep medicine in a way that best serves patients without looking at things holistically. Cause like you're, you're right. I mean, even things, something as simple as gut health can have a big effect on someone's sleep quality, and of course, you know, not to mention just overall, you know, the relationship between obesity and, and sleep disorder breathing. So yeah, that's so cool. I, I love seeing that you are, you know, having so much fun doing something that you love. That's like a, basically, an example that, that we need more of in, in the field of medicine.

Dr. Bhopal:

Thanks so much. I mean, it is a lot of fun, and, and you know, it's, it's not something that I ever thought I would be doing. I never thought I would be on YouTube. We live in this, age, we live in this time where these things are available to us. Like when I was a student, it wasn't really a concept for me anyways. And I think as physicians, like we have all these opportunities to explore and they're not necessarily things that we are taught about or that we were exposed to during our training. So I think we're, we're trained in a very linear way, right? There's a linear path. You go to med school, you do your residency, you do your fellowship, and then you get a job or maybe Get going to academia or you go into private practice and that's about it. Yet there's this whole world available to us. And I think for sleep, it's really exciting because Again 10 years ago, when I was going to sleep fellowship, I remember one of my psych attendings saying to me, Why would you go into sleep? We want our patients to wake up. We don't want to put them to sleep, as psychologists. I was like, okay, well, you know, maybe they need to sleep well, so they can be fully awake during the day, right? And so it's the idea of doing sleep medicine was just not a thing, but now there's so much interest in it. People are interested in like Matthew Walker's book, Why We Sleep. Andrew Huberman has his podcast. It's super popular. He talks a lot about sleep. There's all these sleep coaches these days so patients are more aware of it. So that's even, you know another reason why I think as clinicians, we need to be up to date with this stuff, because our patients are looking for help with this stuff. As physicians, we also need to take care of our own sleep, and we can talk about that. But there's a lot of misinformation as well out there. So I do feel that as physicians, we have a responsibility to share the knowledge that we have.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Absolutely. That's lovely. And I love to tie in sleep to the theme of this podcast which is travel. And I've personally done a lot of long distance travel with my kids in the last 12 months. And as a result have suffered many different aspects of sleep probably sleep deprivation being the biggest one. And so there's so many topics that kind of revolve around sleep and travel jet lag probably being the most. Most a big one out of that, but I, I love for you to, you know, share and, and we can sort of go back and forth and, and, you know, you share something and I know I'm going to be learning from you, but just kind of, kind of learning from each other what, you know what hacks we may have to help with our sleep as we travel.

Dr. Bhopal:

Definitely, definitely. So when, we were kind of planning this episode and we decided we'll talk about jet lag, I was like, oh my gosh, I better read up on this because it is a confusing topic, right? You're traveling across time zones and we have this whole circadian rhythm and our body clock follows a natural rhythm and our melatonin secreted at a certain time, our body temperature changes according to the, you know, circadian rhythm. And then when we throw ourselves into a new time zone, all of that goes out of whack and there are so many little subtle aspects to it, depending on like your individual chronotype, so that's like your natural rhythm, how many time zones you're crossing the direction that you're traveling. So are you going east or west? How long your trip is? So is it like just a couple days or are you traveling for a month? And then what are your goals for the trip? So there's all these different factors. So like the short answer is there's no one size fits all approach to jet lag. But we can talk about some of these nuances and how to kind of generally handle these things. But I also like to just take a step back and think about two things. So when we're traveling, we're dealing with jet lag and we're also dealing with travel fatigue. We want to be able to separate those two things, right? So jet lag is when your body clock is misaligned with the local time that you're traveling to. And then travel fatigue is the fatigue that you get when you're traveling, like when you're on a long flight, and you're sitting in a cramped seat, and you're dehydrated, and you can't sleep on the plane, and maybe you're sleep deprived because you've been frantically packing for the last two nights, so there's that aspect of it as well. And so they're kind of two distinct things that I like to think about.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Yeah, that's such a good point to tease out. And when I was referring to the sleep deprivation, I think in some ways, I tried to use that as a hack, so let's say, you know, back in August, you know, I flew from San Francisco to Sydney and I purposefully looked for a flight where I didn't have to sleep on the flight. So it took a little bit of work, but I found like one airline that was basically, you know, I think I got on the flight kind of early in the morning in San Francisco and then it arrived It was like I think 8 p. m so it was perfect like then I could get a hotel and sleep So that like I didn't have to be tired Because I didn't really need to sleep on the flight and that actually worked out really well but compared to another trip, when I went from Boston to Incheon near Seoul in Korea. I was so sleep deprived because I was trying to pack and trying to fit in my clinics and, answer all my patient messages and get some sleep studies done before going to Asia where I was really not planning to log into my computer at all. And I'm pretty sure I slept maybe like two hours the night before it. I was a solo parent with my kids on that flight. And I just fell asleep. I was like, I don't have any trouble falling asleep. So it kind of worked out because. I think for that flight the flight was kind of designed to get you more adjusted to the destination time. And there were times when they're like, Yep, now it's time to sleep. If I had not been tired, I would have been like, Oh, no, I'm not ready to sleep. I'll, you know, read a book or do something. But I was so sleep deprived that I was actually able to follow what the sort of the transition to the destination.

Dr. Bhopal:

Yeah, that's such a great point to think about. Okay, so, what time are you going to be landing at your destination? So, when I went to Singapore the flight arrived in the morning at I think it was like 8 or 9 a. m. Singapore time. And so, like, I wanted to make sure that I was rested. I didn't want to be so tired that I couldn't enjoy the day or at least stay awake for that day. So I did try to make sure that I got good sleep leading up to that flight. And then as you said, on the flight they do kind of regulate the light exposure and the timing of meals according to the local time. So, I like to take an eye mask with me. So that I can like block out the light. And then like have a comfy blanket and like be really comfortable on the flight Honestly, I have a really hard time sleeping on the plane. It just it's just so uncomfortable. I like to lie flat and you just can't do that unless you're you know flying business class or something but yeah, we're not there yet, right? So Like i'm still sitting in economy And so it's just not that comfortable. So like yeah, so planning ahead So the other aspect of it, too, is how long are you going to be there. Let's say it's a work trip, and you're going from you know, California to New York or something like that, and you're just there a couple of days you want to make sure you're well rested because you're not going to have a lot of time to adjust, whereas, probably, if you're going to Asia, like, when I went to Singapore, it was a three week trip around Asia, right? So you can get away with a little bit of sleep deprivation maybe at the beginning and then have time to adjust. So that's an important factor to consider. But I can get into like, East versus West, what happens to your circadian rhythm. Put very simply. Okay, so when you're traveling West, so let's say you're going from New York. to California, what happens to your body clock is you become like an older adult. So think about that. So think that you're, you're aging in the sense that when you're an older adults tend to fall asleep earlier in the evening and they tend to wake up earlier, right? So what you want to do is we want to delay our body clock. So when you land from, let's say you're going from New York to San Francisco, when you land in San Francisco, you're now like, you have the sleep pattern of an 80 year old person. You're going to be sleepy at 8 p. m., it's going to be hard for you to stay awake, and then you're going to wake up at 4 a. m., and you're going to have a hard time going back to sleep. So what we want to do is we want to delay the body clock. And usually going from east to west is a little bit easier than the other way around, because it's easier to lengthen your day than it is to shorten your day. So when you're traveling west, you're actually wanting to lengthen your day a little bit. So you're going to try to push your, your circadian rhythm a little bit later. How you deal with this practically is, let's say you wake up at 4 a. m. in San Francisco. You want to be as immobile and horizontal as possible at 4 a. m. until your desired wake time. Let's say maybe that's, you know, 6 or 7 a. m. So you want to minimize your light exposure. In the morning, you want to keep it dark, dim, stay flat, that's going to train your brain to know that it's still kind of like you're in your sleep zone until your desired wake time of six or seven or whatever that may be. And then on the other side, you want to get bright light. In the late afternoon and early evening, and that's going to push your bedtime a little bit later. So, your body clock is going to tell you like, when it's 8pm in San Francisco, it's 11pm in New York, so you're going to start to get really sleepy. So getting bright light in the evening is going to push that back a little bit. And then the other way around, let's say you're going from San Francisco to New York, so now you're going east. So now, you're the teenager who's staying up late, and then you can't get up in the morning. So staying up too late, and then your, your body clock is now delayed. So we're gonna do the opposite. Where you wanna get bright light. in the morning, and then you want to get dim light or avoid bright light in the evening because you want to pull your sleep earlier. You want to wake up earlier and go to sleep earlier. When traveling east, melatonin is a little bit more helpful. to pull that body clock earlier. When traveling west, melatonin is a little bit more tricky.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Right, you've already been tired.

Dr. Bhopal:

Exactly, exactly. And so like technically the guidelines say to take a little bit of melatonin in the morning when you're traveling west, so New York to California, but that's really tricky because it can make you sleepy. You have to be really careful. And so I don't recommend that. But if you're traveling east, you can take a little bit of melatonin to help you adjust. And actually the AASM, so the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. They recommend using melatonin if you're traveling east five or more time zones.

Dr. Weili Gray:

That's like Hawaii, you know, like East Coast Hawaii.

Dr. Bhopal:

Exactly. And they say if you're traveling for less than four time zones, you might not need melatonin. So, I think it's up to the individual, but hopefully that was helpful like, just a little bit of a,

Dr. Weili Gray:

Yeah, yeah. And, you know, at the beginning of the show, you said, You also have to take into account the individual chronotype and so, you know, are you naturally a night owl? Are you naturally you know a morning lark and or early morning person? So like for example, I am naturally a night owl and I love it when I go to California because I'm like I'm finally normal

Dr. Bhopal:

Yes.

Dr. Weili Gray:

I'm sleepy at 9pm instead of midnight, and this is great I'm enjoying this. So I don't have to do anything different. finally, I have a socially acceptable chronotype but yeah, we, we talked about this, and I don't think we've used it personally yet, but we've heard really great things about this app called Time Shifter and it's an app for jet lag, and so you sort of put put in the app, like, where you're going, and then it gives you advice on even how to start adjusting to that trip. So I think that that's probably, you know, sort of understanding the concepts, but then if you're like, when do I even start trying to get, you know, adjusted there's an app for that. That may be something to experiment with. if you are going on a short trip, I mean, it's one thing if you're going on a business trip or a conference and you can't, you know, you're not determining the location of where you're going, but let's say if you're like, you know, I have this long weekend and I just want to take a trip. Personally, when I do that, I try not to travel, you know across too many time zones. I live on the east coast, so I might, you know, look at the Caribbean or, you know, somewhere in South America. But I try not to like go to Europe, for example, because it's if I only have five days like that many time zones is just gonna really get in the way of you enjoying your trip while you're there. And then when you come back, you're trying to adjust as well. So yeah, that's, you know, something else to keep in mind.

Dr. Bhopal:

That's such a great point, and I think, again it comes back to your chronotype and also like, just how easily you shift. to new time zones. Like me personally, I do not shift well. And so I agree with you. So I'm on the West coast. So, if we're going on a short little trip, we might go somewhere on the West coast of Mexico or maybe, you know, somewhere else in California or on the, in the Pacific Northwest or maybe Arizona, but we're not going to be going. You know, all the way to Hawaii just for like, a few days or, like, all the way to the East Coast, because it's the same thing and it throws me off. So it also reminds me of social jet lag, which is jet lag that you get when your social schedule changes on weekdays and weekends. So you don't even have to be traveling across time zones. So this past weekend, a friend of ours was visiting and he was staying with us and like, Normally, I'm pretty regimented about my sleep time and my wake time, but, you know we had this friend visiting us and so we're hanging out and talking and I was going to bed a little later than I normally would and I feel jet lagged. Even though I didn't travel anywhere. So that's also something to take into account is that you can still have these jet lag sit downs, even without traveling.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Absolutely. And it's also, you know, where you're going. I mean, for example, I live in Vermont. This time of the year, it gets dark around 4 30 and it doesn't get light until like 7 ish in the morning. So there's a lot of darkness. And of course, if you go further north, you know, it's less and less light. And so I remember the other way around in the summer, like I was in Norway and the kind of the northern part of Norway. And, some of the spots the sun never set, right? Or you see a set for 30 minutes and then it rises again. And so just taking that into account when you travel If you have a tendency to want to fit in too much, just realize that if you're spending a whole week in an area that is never going to get dark and you're trying to get everything in while it's daylight, you're probably going to get pretty tired. So there are just parts of the world where it's not really that helpful for sleep if you're just following the patterns of the sun.

Dr. Bhopal:

Such a great point. And so that's where you know, making sure you take whatever items you need to sleep well with you. So whether that's an eye mask or I know like I have this like bright light visor thing. So if you're going somewhere where it's really dark, that's portable. You could take something like that with you so that you just make it easier for yourself because you want to be fully awake and alert and enjoy your travels.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Crazily enough, that's a fairly new discovery for me. We were traveling to, to Europe and we flew in points on our first business flight and it was lay flat seats and it was like an amazing, such a cool experience. But we got on the plane at, I think, like 6 p. m., we arrive in Europe, like 6 a. m. or something, in Europe time, but literally, it's 12 o'clock in East Coast time, so you know, we get on the flight, and since it's business class, they're like, Oh, we have this menu, you know, you can eat this. And I'm like, I just, when can I lay the seat flat and put on the eye mask that they gave us? And I just want to sleep because when I get there, it's like the, you know, early in the morning and I'm not going to feel very good if I can't sleep. And the rest of my family didn't quite buy into that. So they, they really didn't sleep on this flight that they lay flat, but they didn't take advantage of it to sleep. So when I got to the destination, I was the only person who could drive. My husband was not in any shape or form to drive. So yeah, for sure the eye mask, and since then I've sort of used it to hack if I'm really tired from traveling, like you said, and it made sense for me to sleep on the flight to adjust, I just put on the eye mask, I usually can't Sleep, you know, even an hour on the flight once I put on the I mass. Something about that just helped me sleep. And the, the U-shaped pillow, like that one that's inflatable. I think it was like 10 bucks. I don't remember where I got it, but it was, it's been priceless because it folds really well into my backpack or, you know, like a small purse and, you know, with that and the eye mask, I'm good to go and a little bit, you know, in my ear, earphones.

Dr. Bhopal:

Yeah, so, so important and for me I would add to that like a shawl, like I have a shawl that I always travel with and that's my blanket. So wherever I am, if I'm on the plane or if I'm on a train or a bus or like some kind of transportation I do tend to get cold, so I always carry that with me and it can like kind of roll up or, you know, fold up and I can stick it in my travel bag. But yeah, I think the key is like really planning ahead and giving yourself that time to rest. Because again, you don't want to get there and be like, so shattered that you can't enjoy your vacation or your trip.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Yeah, absolutely. And then I also have learned to just be like really honest with myself like, of course when you go to a new part of the world that you've never been to, you're like, wow, I really want to go check everything out. But I am also looking at the flight schedule and you know, where we're at. So for example, like next June, we're going to Africa and we didn't have enough points to do, to do the business class this time. So we are flying economy and we're flying like through Europe and then, you know, a layover in Frankfurt and then to our final destination in Africa, and I think it's about six or seven hours and it's going to be an overnight flight on economy. And so I'm like, I'm not even sure that we would be able to sleep. And I think we arrive in Frankfurt sometime in the morning and we have this 12 hour layover. And so it might be tempting if I wasn't thinking about the schedule to be like, Oh, well, let's check out the city. You know, we've never been there. Let's see what we can do during the day and then come back and get on the flight. Another overnight flight to Africa, you know, I think it's like 10 hours to where we're going and as tempting as it was to do that, I was like, no, no, I am just going to find a hotel where I can check in for the daytime. And that's our hack, basically, since we can't afford business class flights to Africa for all five of us. I'm like, my hack is basically just to, you know spend several hundred dollars in an airport hotel and we're gonna. Rest. I mean, we may not, you know, sleep the whole time, but we're just gonna take it easy and not worry about it.

Dr. Bhopal:

No, I fully support that. I think that's such a good idea. And I'm remembering back to my days when I was in med school. So I went to med school in Ireland and I got to travel all over Europe at that time. And I mean, when I was, That age, like in my 20s I was sleeping in airports, you know, like, and it was fine. If I had super early morning flight, we would just go to the airport and we'd just sleep there on the floor or on the bench or whatever. But there's no way I could do that. I would not be able to function doing that. So taking into account your own needs, and it's okay if you're paying for a hotel or, you know, your flight's a little bit more expensive because it's not the red eye. Like That's okay. Like, It really is a form of self care, right? Making sure that you're getting good quality sleep.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Yeah, absolutely. That's awesome. And then I, of course don't want to forget this part that I'm super excited about, which is, you're an avid traveler, you've traveled to many different parts of the world. And I, would love to kind of hear about what are some of the highlights from your world travels and, you know, what are some places that you loved or that you may recommend people go to? And I just, you know, I want to get this list. I'm going to take notes.

Dr. Bhopal:

Yeah. I mean, it's, it's hard to really narrow it down to five. I'm sure, sure. You'll hear that all the time from people, but the first one that came to mind for me was Cambodia and it's the Angkor Wat archeological or the Angkor archeological park, which includes the Angkor Wat temple, but there's actually hundreds of temples to see in that area. And it, it is just phenomenal. It was a special trip because I went with my husband and then my dad and my dad's wife and it was just like a really nice family trip for the four of us. And it's just unbelievable, like the size of the park and the scope and the history that's there. It's just beautiful. And one of the temples was the one in Tomb Raider with like the, the roots, you know, growing over it and stuff and um, all the temples are just so diverse. So that's, that's beautiful. And I highly recommend doing the sunrise tour. of Angkor Wat. So you go really early in the morning and then you watch the sunrise come over the temple and it is just like another world over there. So, highly recommend that.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Yeah, you know, sometimes you visit these sort of historic places and it's just amazing how, like, how was this built, right? I mean, they didn't have the same kind of tools, like the excavators and things that we do now, but yet here it is, like this humongous stretch of archaeological wonder.

Dr. Bhopal:

And I, I think what's amazing about it, and I, I might get the dates wrong, but you know, these temples were built hundreds of years ago and then they were covered by jungle. For a long time, and I think they weren't rediscovered quote unquote rediscovered until the 1940s, I believe, until there was like an expedition or some archaeologists were kind of doing some research, because it's very lush jungle over there, right, so it's Yeah, and so then I think they found this one temple and then they started exploring and then they found out there's like hundreds of these temples that had been covered with foliage for that long. So, again, I might not be getting the details exactly right, but just, it's an incredible place.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Awesome. That's amazing. Thanks for sharing that.

Dr. Bhopal:

Yeah! So, okay, the next one I have on my list is Costa Rica, and specifically the Arenal Volcano. area. This is just one of my favorite places. Just naturally so beautiful. My husband had been there before and I hadn't been, so he's like, we have to go there together. And so we, we went there, we stayed in a lovely hotel resort there. And what's so amazing about it is that you've got these natural rock formations with water that's heated from the volcano. So there are these natural hot springs. And so we would just go sit and soak in these mineral waters that were heated by the volcano. And it's semi manicured, but you still feel like you're in the jungle. And we're sitting there and there's lizards, you know, there's an iguana swimming next to you, and it's just really a magical place, and I dream of that place. It was so relaxing. I actually had blown up a photo of one of the spots that we used to soak in, and I have that hanging in our bedroom, because I just like to gaze at it and remember our time there.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Oh, that's what I call or it's I didn't coin this term, but memory dividends, right? Like you, it just the memories that keep paying back from from your travels. That's why I love investing, aka spending my money on travel. Awesome. Love it. Love it.

Dr. Bhopal:

Okay, so next on my list is West Cork, Ireland. So Ireland is where I went to medical school. I went to med school in Cork, Ireland, which is in the southwest of Ireland. And I specifically chose West Cork because it is, it's kind of like what you think of when you think of Ireland. Right, like that image of the rolling hills and it's very green and, and lush and the little villages and small roads that are, like, blocked by hordes of sheep and, and things like this. So, West Cork is a beautiful place to do a driving tour, so I highly recommend doing that just renting a car and exploring the countryside. And there's one specific place that is very special to visit. It's the Air India Memorial. So for people who don't know, there was um, a terrorist attack with an Air India plane in 1985. There was a bomb in the plane and it exploded over this area so it's kind of a morbid thing, but it's a really beautiful place, like they've created this memorial garden, and there's a sundial that was created by a local sculptor in Cork, and you can see all the names of, of the victims and so it's just a nice place. place to just pay respect to for, for the people who were affected by that tragedy. And there were a lot of Canadians on that flight Indo Canadian, so I'm originally, my family's originally from India, we're Canadian, and so there, Oh is

Dr. Weili Gray:

that right?

Dr. Bhopal:

a, Yes, yes, I grew up in Canada on the west coast of Canada, so it's an important part of our history, so when my mom came to visit me in Ireland when I was a med student, we drove out there and, and visited that place, but there's lots of beautiful places to visit in Cork.

Dr. Weili Gray:

That is so cool. And I love that you spent four, four years. Is that how long the medical school was for Ireland?

Dr. Bhopal:

five. Yeah, it's five over

Dr. Weili Gray:

you spent Wow you spent five years in Ireland? Wow. What are some other ways that you would describe sort of the local culture and just having been immersed in that culture for that long?

Dr. Bhopal:

I mean, it's, it's a very proud culture in a way like, um, I think people are very proud of their language, like there is an Irish language. That's one thing I didn't know before I moved there, so, you know, when you go there, you'll see their signs in Irish and in English. And so, yeah, it was um, a little bit of a culture shock, to be honest, when I first moved there. It's different now, but at that time, there weren't a lot of people of colour living there. There was this program that sent students from Canada and Malaysia, some students from the U. S. to go study medicine there. So many of the people of color were, like, all med students, right? So, so that was a little bit interesting to navigate, but I mean, we were welcomed with, with open arms.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Wow. That's so cool. Thanks for sharing that.

Dr. Bhopal:

Yeah. Okay, next I have on my list the Maldives. So I went there for my honeymoon. And oh my gosh, that was like ultimate relaxation and luxury. So with the Maldives, you've got the main island of Mali and then you've got all these different atolls. So these little islands and each of those is its own resort.

Dr. Weili Gray:

My understanding is that I don't know if it's like a law, but that's like each atoll just has one resort. Like you can't have more than one resort in each atoll.

Dr. Bhopal:

Yeah. And they're not that big. Right. So like, I don't know if there's even room for more than one resort, like they're pretty small. But yeah, so we, we went there for our honeymoon and just even like flying into it was unreal. Like you're flying over this just expanse of turquoise and then you've got these little tiny white dots, these little islands kind of like spaced apart. So you, you fly into the main island and then once you get to the main island, you take a small seaplane to your resort so even just that experience that was just so beautiful. Yeah, and so we got to our resort, and then you're welcome. It's like in the movies, when, when you see this like, pier, and then all the people who work there in their uniforms, and they're, like, greeting the guests, and they whisk you off to your bungalow. It was just like in the movies, like that. So that was pure luxury. That was kind of a once in a lifetime for that, you know, we, we really splurged on that. And that's where I learned how to scuba dive. I took scuba diving certification there, and I'm terrified of the water, so that was like a big Milestone for me.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Awesome. That's so awesome. Yeah. I mean, if you go to the Maldives, that's such an awesome place to scuba dive. I mean, I had a a friend and a colleague who's been a long time scuba diver mostly, in the Caribbean and then she went on a, a liveaboard in the Maldives and she's like, it ruined Caribbean diving forever.

Dr. Bhopal:

I can see that. Yeah. I mean, it's like, it's a great place to learn how to scuba dive because the water is warm. It's super clear. There's lots of wildlife to see. And I had the best instructor because like I said, I'm terrified of open ocean, terrified of deep water. I actually learned how to swim specifically for this purpose of scuba diving in the Maldives.

Dr. Weili Gray:

This is what I always try to get across to our listeners because I knew how to swim, but As a 10 year old I think you know, I got some swim lessons at the YMCA as a 10 year old and didn't really swim seriously until about a year ago when I wanted to try scuba diving. So it's so common, I think people are just so driven by the beauty and the like wonder and just how amazing it is to be underwater that, even as an adult, you can learn how to swim and do this.

Dr. Bhopal:

Exactly. It's, it's never too late. It's really never too late. And You know, and it opens up so many doors. And like you, I'd like done swimming and stuff as a kid, but I never was confident with it. So I decided to take swimming lessons during my sleep fellowship because I was getting married. Like at the end of my fellowship, like the summer after fellowship, and I wanted to be free, so I contacted the local pool and they offered one on one coaching which I know for me was important because like I just wanted that attention. Like I knew in a group it would be a little bit too overwhelming for me. Because I just had a lot of anxiety about it. And so I got a one on one coach and I went every Thursday morning. And it opened up so many doors. So yeah, I mean, it just, it, it allows us to do so many things and it's never too late to learn as adults. There's so many skills that we can acquire and there's, there's all these possibilities. and even aside from swimming doing things like ziplining, right? That's why I love travel so much is that it pushes us beyond our limits and our comfort zone.

Dr. Weili Gray:

absolutely. I Recently, earlier this year, tried paragliding, which is Insane, but like you I was traveling and this opportunity literally popped up in front of my face and I'm like, I can try this now I don't need an appointment. I don't need lessons. Yeah, and 15 minutes later, you're up in the air. I would not have done that if someone asked me a week ago hey, in one week, do you want to go do this? Cause I would have been thinking about it for the whole week, but because it was just right in front of you I don't have time to, to think about why I don't want to do it. I only have time to really, you know, think of how cool it would be to do it. And that you're

Dr. Bhopal:

I think that's the, that's the best.

Dr. Weili Gray:

I would, and it's funny because since then I looked up paragliding in Vermont and apparently there are people who do this here, but I'm like, it's just not as appealing so close to home. There's something about being in a new place where you're not going to go back there in a while or ever and, and you get offered this opportunity. It's much easier to say yes and do crazy things and overcome our fears.

Dr. Bhopal:

I agree. I agree. Yeah. You don't want to give yourself the time to back out because I know I'm like that too. If there's time to think about it, I'd be like, ah, nevermind. I changed my mind. So yeah, but just it's the openness, right? Just being open to the possibilities, like you said. Okay, so the last place that I, that I have for number five is in the south of India, and the town is called Coimbatore, and it's the Isha Yoga Center. So for anyone who practices yoga is interested in yoga or meditation, or you're just traveling and you want a really cool place to visit. It's an ashram. You can stay there. They have programs. If you want to take a yoga program or learn meditation there, you can do that. Or you can just visit as a tourist. So my husband and I actually did a spiritual wedding ceremony there. We had a destination wedding in Mexico. So we had that with our family. And then on the way to the Maldives for our honeymoon, we stopped here in the south of India. We stopped at this ashram. And we both practice yoga and meditation. And so we had a wedding ceremony in the Devi temple, which is kind of like the feminine energy. And so we had this really cool like, spiritual ceremony there, where they, they have you do these different processes, which is all about working together. So you do these different tasks where you work together and you support each other, but you're not entangled with each other. One person cannot do the process alone like, you have to have two. So that's just, it was just really interesting. We did that, and it was, This really beautiful experience and then we flew to the Maldives from there for our honeymoon, but yeah, I mean, I recommend traveling there. And there's another space in that, on that campus called the Dhyanalinga temple. And yeah, again, anyone who's meditation curious, or even if you're not, it's this powerful energy space and you can go and you can sit in there and imbibe the space and see what happens. A lot of people say when they go there, they experience meditation for the first time. You don't have to do anything and you can experience what it feels like to be in stillness.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Wow.

Dr. Bhopal:

many people share that experience, so highly recommend.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Wow. Awesome. This is so, so amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this top five list. It's so, inspirational, to hear about the experiences that you have and, how different each places and how you enjoy, going to so many different places in the world.

Dr. Bhopal:

well, thanks for giving me the opportunity to share and to reflect. I think, yeah, it was helpful just to even go through that exercise of oh yeah, where have I been? And what experiences have I had? And it's fun to kind of look back.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Awesome. Do you have any parting words for, physicians who are listening who you know, have this vision that they want to live a life on their terms. They want to live their dreams. They want to maybe practice medicine in a way that excites them. They want to, travel. They want to see the world. They want to have the time and the money to do that. You know, but maybe right now they don't feel like they have it that they know they want it. They don't necessarily know how to do it. What kind of advice do you have for them?

Dr. Bhopal:

My advice to physicians would be to not wait. I think we're so used to putting our lives on hold. We're used to having this thought process of, okay, after I graduate from med school, then I'll"X" After I finish residency, then I will blank, right? And our lives are happening right now. I encourage people to, if you want to travel, see how you can make that happen. If there's a priority that you have in your life. You'll find a way to make it happen. Maybe you're not flying business class to, you know, like the Maldives, but what experiences can you make for yourself now? And even career wise it's okay to pivot and I think, I'm just speaking from my own experience it's the pivoting and really listening to my inner voice, realigning with my values. that have allowed me to find a niche that I really enjoy. and like I was saying at the beginning, I never thought that was going to be possible. I never imagined I'd be doing what I'm doing now. I didn't, you know, it just wasn't even a possibility in my mind. And so there's this whole universe of possibilities, available to us that we can't even imagine, but it's just about taking that next step.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Yeah, so powerful. And your life is such a great example of that. And you're just sharing some of the timeline with me, I think you said in 2019, you were, really a W-2 employee practicing in a very conventional psychiatric practice, where you didn't really get to use the tools that really excited you to help patients. And it was really just what, the practice wanted you to do. And just in this such a short period of time, you have you. Created your dream practice, your your dream life. And it's, it's just so amazing seeing that that's possible in such a short time.

Dr. Bhopal:

Yeah. And I think for me, it's, what's also been really helpful is listening to podcasts that I find inspirational, listening to other doctor stories you know, like your own about traveling, like that's inspiring seeing what other doctors are doing in the entrepreneurial world. What other doctors are doing in terms of their career and just getting inspired by that and learning from them. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, right? So for me, it's about, okay, who has done what I kind of want to do and what can I learn from them? And how can I apply that in my own life? There are people who have done it before us, right? And so we don't have to figure it out. On our own, there's so much support available. So I encourage people to leverage that.

Dr. Weili Gray:

That's awesome. That's a great segue to, how do people find you and, if they want to learn more about sleep medicine or maybe be, be a patient in your practice in California, share with us, all, all the ways.

Dr. Bhopal:

So I have a practice. It's called Pacific Integrative Psychiatry. You can find it at pacificintegrativepsych. com. And we see patients by telemedicine all across California. We offer a whole body approach to mental health. So we do psychiatry, nutrition, and therapy. And then I have my online business teaching physicians about integrative sleep medicine. So you can find me on YouTube at IntraBalance. It's I N T R A balance. And then on YouTube, you can find out more about my online course for physicians. I've got a free course. You can go to intrabalance. com forward slash doctors to get my free sleep medicine course, and then I'll be opening up doors to the clinical sleep kit membership, which is my online program for physicians to learn about integrated sleep medicine. Those doors will open in February of 2024.

Dr. Weili Gray:

Awesome. Thank you so much. I so appreciate everything you shared. You sure you dropped so many gems. Gave us these cool ideas to go travel and really just serve as an inspiration for us to pursue our dreams now rather than 20 years from now.

Dr. Bhopal:

Oh, well, thank you so much for having me. This is a lot of fun..