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By: Tamara Sellman on November 20th, 2018

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: November 20, 2018

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

sleeping turkey

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



Some veterans blame deadly health effects on war-zone exposure to open-pit burning
November 18, 2018

From the article: “Of the 30 men in his platoon, Kyle Simoni told [surveyor Chelsey] Poisson, five have died since they left Iraq in 2008. Half the rest, including him, have issues such as sleep apnea, Crohn’s disease, tumors, vitamin D deficiencies or endocrine problems, such as an inability to produce testosterone. One went through surgery to reconstruct his entire nasal cavity.”

Takeaway: Our vets continue to need support from the medical community for conditions they bring back with them after going abroad, often which lead to major sleep disruptions, disorders, and result in long-term chronic illness.


My Recent CPAP Use Has Triggered Traumatic Memories
November 14, 2018 

From the commentary: “The CPAP highlights one of my greatest fears: that my new, hard-fought health is fleeting, that I will again require life-sustaining machines. Starting CPAP therapy feels like a step backward after freeing myself from tubing. Internally I feel like my six-year-old self, battling against the nurses and my parents who insisted I needed to wear the oxygen cannula. I want to cry and scream and tear it off my face.

Takeaway: Keep this person's story in mind when you have patients who resist using CPAP; we can't always know about past traumas and how they will resurface years later. 


Hypoxic burden could be better gauge of CVD risk in sleep apnea
November 13
, 2018 

From the article: “Hypoxic burden is a better predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality in sleep apnea patients than apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), a new analysis of two large cohort studies suggests. …Nearly half of the patients who were classified as having sleep apnea based on AHI were not at increased risk of dying from heart disease over about a decade of follow-up, Dr. Ali Azarbarzin of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues report in the European Heart Journal, online October 30.

Takeaway: This is pretty big news and the study followed thousands of men and women over a long period. Prepare to see more discussion of this in the months to come. 


NIH Grant to Fuel New Center Funding Medical-device Entrepreneurs, Including in the Sleep Domain
November 12, 2018

From the article: “Supported by a $7.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), M2D2 will establish a new center to assist inventors pioneering promising new point-of-care devices and technologies for patients with heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders. Innovations aim to help patients with these health concerns better manage their well-being wherever they are, seeking to reduce in-patient hospital stays and improve quality of life.

Takeaway: This is positive news for people with sleep disorders and may also mean more will seek out sleep health clinical services once awareness of underlying problems can be raised through the use of these devices and technologies.


Oxford researchers’ AI framework may predict Parkinson’s by identifying REM sleep disorder
November 13, 2018

From the article: “There is clear evidence that RBD is a precursor to Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body disease, and multiple system atrophy, preceding them by years,' the researchers wrote. 'Therefore, an accurate RBD diagnosis would provide invaluable early detection and insights into the development of these neurodegenerative disorders… In this study, we propose a fully automated pipeline for RBD detection.'” 

Takeaway: This could be breakthrough research that could help stem the huge tide of Parkinsonism and other neurological disorders that come frequently with aging. 


Beyond CPAP: Could Medical Cannabis Treat Sleep Apnea?
November 13, 2018

From the article: “A drug that treats the cause of sleep apnea could one day give patients more options to manage their condition. 'The CPAP device targets the physical problem but not the cause,' says co-lead author Phyllis Zee, MD, in a release. 'The drug targets the brain and nerves that regulate the upper airway muscles. It alters the neurotransmitters from the brain that communicate with the muscles. Better understanding of this will help us develop more effective and personalized treatments for sleep apnea.'” 

Takeaway: As usual, the study repeats what many researchers say about cannabinoid usage and sleep apnea: more research is needed.


As social media ‘influencers,’ patients are getting a voice. And pharma is ready to pay up
November 13, 2018

From the article: “An entire industry has cropped up to link drug makers with the industry’s own version of an influencer—people, usually patients, who have small but devoted followings and who might be willing to promote their products or share valuable insights about the patient community. Ciccarella, for example, is one of nearly 100,000 such influencers on the rosters of Wego Health, one of a handful of companies that essentially acts as a patient influencer talent agency. …It’s a lucrative new frontier for drug advertising—and for patients, too, who benefit from close contact with the drug maker and, often, a fee. But it is also an increasingly regulated frontier, and one with ethical quandaries that some experts say the drug industry hasn’t fully considered.”

Takeaway: Part of health literacya big part, actuallyis media literacy, and people in general are still not as skilled at discerning advertisements from factual content as they need to be. We all need to be asking, who's paying for this message? 


Woman who was raped worries about man's sexsomnia defence
November 15, 2018
WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions some readers may find disturbing

From the article: “Seven years after she was raped by a stranger, an Ottawa-area woman is still seeking closure and waiting in trepidation for what justice could mete out. …Her attacker, Ryan Hartman, 38, was found guilty of sexual assault in 2012 and sentenced to 14 months in jail. He appealed and lost. He appealed again. This time he admitted to the crime, but presented evidence that he was suffering from sexsomnia and argued that he was sleeping when he raped the woman. The Ontario Court of Appeal granted him a new trial, which began in April 2017. On Monday, a Brockville judge will decide if the original conviction should stand or if Hartman is not criminally responsible because of a sleep disorder.” 

Takeaway: The precedents this test case might set could be significant. Stay tuned. 

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.