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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman on October 30th, 2018

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: October 30, 2018

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

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relevant to sleep technology and patient education.



Seniors In The Deep South And Rural Western States Prescribed Most Benzodiazepines And Opioids
October 26, 2018

From the article: “The researchers say this ‘polypharmacy’ of drugs that act on the central nervous system and are most commonly used for anxiety, sleep and behavior issues, is concerning because of the unique risks it poses to older adults. Combining such medications can put seniors at higher risk for falls as well as create problems with driving, memory and thinking.”

Takeaway: White male doctors appear to shoulder most of the blame, and the populations they are serving tend to be undereducated, which can lead to a safe assumption that these patients are probably not practicing the best sleep hygiene or health literacy. This is an educational opportunity that motivated, ambitious sleep techs in these states could take advantage of.


Raising Awareness from the Inside Out (aka Rip Van Winkle)
October 23, 2018 

From the personal essay: “What if you decided to take a nap but didn’t wake up for 6 months? You might think this is a version of the famous 'Rip Van Winkle' story by Washington Irving, but it’s actually the story of L.B., a person with IH in Scotland. She came home from work one day in 2015 and fell asleep for 6 months. Her 'Personal Journey' story is set forth below, and chronicles her 2-year struggle to obtain a correct diagnosis, which turned out to be idiopathic hypersomnia (IH).

Takeaway: Sometimes the best way to understand a specific kind of sleep disorder is to ask someone who lives with it. Here are some insights into IH.


Barbara Phillips, MD, MPH, FCCP: The Diagnosis Debate for Sleep Apnea
October 19, 2018 

From the article: “At last year’s CHEST Annual Meeting in Toronto, ON, Phillips, of the University of Kentucky School of Medicine, told MD Magazine® the diagnosis and management of sleep apnea has been 'too complicated, too time consuming, too expensive, too patient unfriendly, too test-oriented and not nearly enough follow-up chronic management-oriented.'

Takeaway: She makes some good points, but… what do you think this says about the future of sleep techs and overnight labs? Do you agree with Dr. Phillips?


Zeitgebers and their association with rest-activity patterns
October 26, 2018

From the website: “Zeitgebers such as light, eating and physical activity provide input to the circadian clock. Chronic circadian misalignment is associated with significant adverse health effects. An improved understanding of the impact of the timing of zeitgebers on the stability of 24-hour rest-activity rhythm in free-living settings may identify behavioural and environmental intervention targets.

Takeaway: Circadian biology continues to be a major research pursuit within the arena of major chronic illness.


Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation Improves Objective Alertness, Sleep in Obstructive Sleep Apnea
October 24, 2018

From the article: “In a study published in Neurology, hypoglossal nerve stimulation (HNS) improved objective daytime alertness and reduced the incidence and duration of waking after sleep onset in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).” 

Takeaway: Daytime alertness is one of the big goals of any therapy for sleep-disordered breathing. It's a small study but it shows positive outcomes for patients through both day and night. 


12% of Heavy Cannabis Users Experience Withdrawal After Quitting. 68% of Those Report Sleep Difficulty During Withdrawal
October 24, 2018

From the article: “Among withdrawal symptoms, the most commonly reported were nervousness/anxiety (76%), hostility (72%), sleep difficulty (68%), and depressed mood (59%). While physical symptoms were reported less frequently than behavioral and emotional symptoms, headaches, shakiness/tremors, and sweating were also prevalent.” 

Takeaway: Granted, we're talking about heavy cannabis users, but it's worth considering how cannabinoids used to treat insomnia may be problematic should the patient wish to stop using them. Also, cannabis products may become habituated to, requiring higher doses over time to achieve sleep (or fend off sleep-onset insomnia). Today's light cannabis user may become tomorrow's heavy cannabis user. 


Healthy behaviors competing for time: associations of sleep and exercise in working Americans
October 25, 2018

From the abstract: “Exercise and sleep are two important health promoting behaviors, but large parts of the population do not exercise or are chronically sleep deprived. We investigated to what degree exercise and sleep compete with each other and with other waking activities for time.”

Takeaway: Sleep techs know a great deal about having to swap sleep for exercise and vice versa. There's so little time when shifts are 12 hours (or longer) and the need for 8 hours of hard sleep is requisite for good recovery from third shift.


Mullica cop with sleep apnea will keep job and pension
October 26, 2018

From the article:  “Sarraf said he was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2015 and has been trying since then to not have to work overnight or many late shifts. …He said he filed an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint that resulted in an agreement to try working a permanent 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift, but then his health problems got worse.” 

Takeaway: As if being sick isn't burden enough, patients with chronic illnesses, such as OSA, who also work in occupations where shift work is a reality, really must fight to keep their jobs— even when they are treated and compliant with treatment. Fortunately for this police officer, the ADA helped him keep his job.

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.