Recently, I had the opportunity to explain on the Fox Weather streaming service why we sometimes feel sleepier in the winter than we do in other seasons. The interview got me thinking about how these same challenges may be faced by college and professional winter sports athletes.
In the United States, there are thousands of professional athletes, hundreds of thousands of college athletes and tens of millions of high school, club and individual athletes that participate in every sport imaginable. However, being active and in good physical shape does not make one immune from the same frailties seen across the nation’s entire population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 32% of 18- to 24-year-olds and about 38% of those ages 25-34 sleep less than seven hours a night.
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When athletes obtain optimal sleep, their mood, fatigue, mental and physical performance, recovery, and cognition improve while their risk of injury decreases. However, incorporating sleep as part of an athlete’s training regimen is often overlooked. Additionally, obtaining sufficient sleep can be difficult as athletes travel to tournaments — especially if it involves traveling across time zones. The change in time disrupts an athlete’s circadian rhythm, which can contribute to sleepiness and fatigue, and negatively impact an athlete’s performance. A recent study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) demonstrated that baseball players’ performance decreased as the season progressed due to frequent travel (i.e., disruptions in the sleep-wake schedule). Improving sleep could potentially improve performance and prevent injury in athletes, and in recent years, scientists have used partial body and whole-body cooling as a way to do this. Some results have been promising.
With 2022 well underway and spring now here, I am eager for what’s to come in the next few months for AAST, its members, and the sleep community and profession.
The Certification in Clinical Sleep Health (CCSH), offered through the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT), showcases the knowledge of those who manage patient care as health care providers and educators. In addition to meeting specific educational/clinical eligibility requirements, individuals must hold a Basic Life Support (BLS) certification or its equivalent, adhere to the BRPT Standards of Conduct and pass the CCSH examination.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the general population. It is defined as a persistent difficulty with sleep initiation, duration, consolidation or quality that occurs despite adequate opportunity for sleep, and leads to impairment in health and functioning. It may also be a symptom of another medical condition such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Recent findings show that insomnia is on the rise. Factors such as stress and anxiety have contributed to an increase in its prevalence in the United States with diagnosis rising from 33% (pre-pandemic) to 56% (post-pandemic). Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is the first-line recommendation for managing chronic insomnia. The American College of Physicians released recommendations for chronic insomnia in 2016 stating that only after patients fail CBT-I should medication options be considered. Seventy-five percent respond to CBT-I, therefore, why are so many people that are suffering from insomnia still taking sleep medications?
Finding enough time in your day to accomplish everything both personally and professionally is a struggle that many people can relate to. Most of us wish that we could find time to do more, yet many of us finish our days with items still left on our to-do list. If technology could free up half the time your team currently spends scoring studies, what items could you start crossing off your list each day? Could you use that time to take your career in sleep to the next level?
The use of wearable sleep technology (i.e., devices worn on the body to measure aspects of sleep such as sleep/wake cycles) is increasing among consumers. Benefits of wearable sleep technology are that it collects information about a person's sleep in their natural environment and can record information over an extended period of time, compared to having a polysomnographic study in which the “first night effect” and having incomplete data in a sleep diary can negatively impact results. However, little guidance exists regarding how to use these devices effectively in clinical and nonclinical settings (e.g., sleep research, consumer market). In addition, scientists have concerns regarding the devices’ validity, accuracy and reliability in measuring various sleep parameters (e.g., sleep stages, sleep/wake cycles).
As I step into the role of AAST President and begin my term, I am excited to have this opportunity to connect, and work to advance the sleep field with you all. AAST is an organization that is dedicated to providing its members with top-notch continuing education, networking opportunities, access to world-class education and industry updates, and as your president, I am committed to ensuring these member benefits are upheld.
Alaska is a land of extremes, especially when it comes to the unique patterns associated with the cycle of day and night. When summer fades to fall and fall fades to winter, the sunlight fades out as well. With these intriguing patterns of day and night come sleep challenges for those who reside in the state. As a sleep technologist, especially if you live and work in Alaska, it’s vital to understand the sleep challenges of those living in “The Last Frontier” and be equipped with a few tips and tricks to getting a full night of sleep — even when the sun is shining bright at 3 a.m.