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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman on December 11th, 2018

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: December 11, 2018

Sleep Technologist Advice

While You Were Sleeping: What Sleep Technologists Need to Know This Week

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Your media watchdog for headlines and trends
relevant to sleep technology and patient education.



Adam Ruins Everything - How School Start Times Affect Teens' Sleep Patterns
December 3, 2018

From the video: “In the 1970's, the student population grew higher than ever, and schools cut their costs in ways that directly disrupted students' natural sleep patterns.”

Takeaway: This explains so much about why teens and sleep is a conundrum now but wasn't one when older Americans were teens. Many of them started school at 9am, after all. The Start School Later movement needs the help of sleep professionals, by the way. If you're resolved to promote healthy sleep in your community in 2019, then you should really consider helping them fix this nationwide problem. 

The changing face of health and safety
December 4, 2018 

From the article: “As technology’s impact on everyday life continues to grow, the health and safety industry is taking strides to keep up and try to get ahead of the curve. From Mental Health First Aid to augmented reality training exercises, here are a few key ways in which our understanding of health and safety is getting an update.

Takeaway: I can personally vouch for Mental Health First Aid certification, as I  have used elements of it both on the job and in personal life routinely since I was certified over 5 years ago. Reality training that includes a focus on mental health should absolutely be part of healthcare safety training protocol for sleep technologists.


Sleep Techs as Physician Extenders [Editor's Message]
December 10
, 2018 

From the editorial: “The physicians ultimately gained confidence in the sleep techs’ new role, but the trust didn’t develop overnight. Several specified to techs exactly what to cover with patients. Forms and checklists were developed, then no longer needed as everyone came onto the same page. Eventually, physicians started coming to the control area of the affiliated sleep lab (the Center for Sleep Medicine at Capital Health) to ask for sleep tech assistance, when no tech was readily available to help out in the private practice—an indication that the physician extenders had become essential.

Takeaway: If you're an RPSGT or CCSH and you would like to see the role of physician extender in your own clinic, please leave a comment thanking Sleep Review  editor Sree Roy for her thoughtful spotlight on this important potential shift in our field. 


Telehealth uptake surprisingly low among physicians, AMA finds
December 4, 2018

From the article: “In 2016, just 15.4% of doctors worked in practices that employed telemedicine for a wide range of patient interactions — from e-visits to storing and forwarding diagnostic imaging results, according to American Medical Association researchers who reviewed data from 3,500 doctors in that year's Physician Practice Benchmark Survey. …In a report to Congress earlier this month, CMS blamed current Medicare law — which requires patients be in an originating site when receiving telehealth services — for the lack of the technology's usage among older Americans. Such sites must be in a rural health professional shortage area or a county outside a metropolitan statistical area or must be participating in a federal telemedicine project to use telehealth services. In 2016, just 0.25% of the 35 million fee-for-service Medicare enrollees used the option. By contrast, telehealth use among commercially insured appears to be catching on and growing fast. From 2005 to 2014, annual telehealth visits grew at an annual rate of 52%, and the pace surged to 261% between 2015 and 2017, according to a recent JAMA study.” 

Takeaway: Insurance inequities continue to be a major pain point for so many people in the healthcare system (physicians and patients). 


Professor Shares Finding of Sleep Texting Study
December 4, 2018

From the article: “Elizabeth B. Dowdell, PhD, RN, FAAN, a professor in the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing …and her co-researcher, Brianne Q. Clayton, MSN, RN, interviewed 372 students with an average age of 19.7 years at two colleges in the northeast — 75 percent of which were women and 25 percent men. All participants had a smartphone and 93 percent reported keeping that phone with them during the night. One-third of respondents reported that they answered a phone call while they were asleep. Twenty-five percent of the students admitted that they had texted while asleep. 86 percent of the affirmative responses were given by women.

Takeaway: It might be useful to reproduce this experiment using even numbers of gender (and not 75 female, 25 male) in order to show whether this is a "woman thing" or just a fluke. 


Sweet dreams: Melatonin-rich milk to help insomniacs sleep easy
December 5, 2018

From the article: “Gerald and Julian Burns, owners of Ardrahan Farm near Kanturk and producers of Lullaby Milk, milk their cows at 2am during the summer and 4am in the winter so they can get as much of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin into the milk as possible. …
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in milk, but four times as much of it is produced if the cows are milked during specific points in their sleep cycles.” 

Takeaway: That glass of warm milk at bedtime to fall asleep easier is no joke …but one does wonder whether the cows mind the über-early mornings. 


“Airway” Knowledge Has Changed My Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
November 29, 2018

From the commentary: “As you can see, the actual orthodontic techniques are not exotic or unusual. The really big thing was shifting my paradigm from being tooth-centered to airway-centered. I now notice things I used to miss, and I consider treatment options I would previously have not considered.”

Takeaway: Sleep health literacy is not just for patients; medical professionals in other fields continue to need reminders and reframing to understand how interconnected sleep medicine is with literally every other medical specialty, including dentistry. 


Man accused of killing aspiring West End star in crash 'slipped into micro sleep at wheel'
December 6, 2018

From the article: “A Range Rover driver accused of killing an aspiring West End singer when he crashed into a traffic island claims he slipped into a 'micro sleep' caused by an undiagnosed medical condition, a court heard.” 

Takeaway: If the driver was previously unaware of the medical condition, they could use that as a defense, but who has micro sleeps who isn't already sleep deprived? It will be interesting to see what the court finds, and whether blaming an undiagnosed medical condition is really the problem here.

BIO:  Tamara Sellman RPSGT, CCSH curates the sleep health information clearinghouse, SleepyHeadCENTRAL, where she follows sleep health news headlines daily. She is also an independent sleep health journalist, writes MS-related columns for two medical publishers, and contributes as a freelance writer to AAST’s magazine, A2Zzz. She can be reached at sleepyheadcentral@gmail.com.