Neuroscientist, author and sleep researcher Matthew Walker will be the keynote speaker at the 23rd annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival & Conference, scheduled for June 26-29 in Ketchum.

Walker, who holds a Ph.D. in neurophysiology, is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Walker’s research examines the impact of sleep on human health and disease, and his book, “Why We Sleep,” looks at how sleep can be harnessed to improve learning, mood and energy levels and to regulate hormones to prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity, as well as to slow the effects of aging. The book has been translated into 34 languages and was selected for the prestigious Sundance Book Festival.

Featured speaker Nora McInerny is a blogger, author and host of the podcast “Terrible, (Thanks for Asking).” McInerny began writing via a blog titled “My Husband’s Tumor,” which had 200,000 followers who read as she chronicled her husband’s illness and subsequent death. A writer of grief and loss, McInerny experienced a miscarriage and lost her father within several weeks of her husband’s death in 2014. She has a TED Talk with more than 3 million views titled “We Don’t ‘Move On’ From Grief. We Move Forward With It.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will speak about environmental health and specifically how it relates to Idaho. Kennedy is an environmental lawyer and partner in the personal-injury law firm Morgan and Morgan. He is also a climate activist who in 1995 co-founded Riverkeeper, an organization to protect the environmental, recreational and commercial integrity of the Hudson River and its tributaries to protect clean drinking water.

Beyond being an avid environmentalist, Kennedy is also a prominent anti-vaccine activist. He was the founder in 2016 of Children’s Health Defense (initially called the World Mercury Project) and has been active in the U.S. and abroad fighting mandatory vaccines. Sun Valley Wellness Festival & Conference Executive Director Heather LaMonica Deckard said Kennedy will not speak about vaccinations at the summer event.

“It’s an honor to have him and specifically it’s a rare and great opportunity to have him speak about environmental health and how it specifically relates to Idaho,” Deckard said.

Other speakers will include Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who taught neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School for 15 years. Following a near-death experience in 2008, Alexander wrote a book titled “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife,” detailing his memories during a seven-day coma through a “fantastic odyssey deep into another realm,” according to Alexander’s website.

Dr. Terrence Real is a recognized family therapist, speaker and author who has written several books on relationships and male depression. Real is a senior faculty member of the Family Institute of Cambridge in Massachusetts and a retired Clinical Fellow of the Meadows Institute in Arizona, according to his website. At the Sun Valley Wellness Festival & Conference, he will speak about the “silent epidemic” of male depression, as well as healing from trauma.

Speaker Dr. Zach Bush is a physician who specializes in endocrinology—the branch of physiology and medicine concerned with endocrine glands and hormones—and hospice care. Bush educates communities and physicians on the microbiome as it relates to health, disease and food production systems.

“These are very important issues facing our community and we are very proud to bring the leading experts in these areas to help our community members,” Deckard said.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting sunvalleywellness.org.

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