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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH on August 27th, 2019

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: August 27, 2019

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

sleeping baby skunk

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

WYWS will be taking time off over next week's holiday and will
return with the latest sleep news on Tuesday, September 10. 


Restless legs syndrome nearly triples the risk of suicide and self-harm
August 23, 2019

From the article: “[U]ntil now experts thought [restless legs syndrome] was a purely physical condition. New research by Penn State University in the US suggests that it may be linked to mental health too. …Researchers looked at health records of nearly 170,000 people between 2006 and 2016, of which 24,179 suffered from restless legs syndrome. …None of the participants had attempted suicide or harmed themselves when the study began, but scientists found that those with RLS were 2.7 times more likely to have self-harmed or tried to kill themselves by the end of the research period.

Takeaway: Here's one of the most important reasons why we need to take RLS very seriously in the sleep clinic.  


Study links insomnia genes to heart disease, stroke risk
August 22, 2019

From the article: “Scientists used data from more than 1.6 million people to link insomnia genes to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke but not atrial fibrillation.

Takeaway: This is an interesting and easy-to-understand discussion about applying genetic markers in research.


Sleep-tracking apps may contribute to insomnia
August 21, 2019

From the press release: “Some people might think that tracking their sleep will give insight into their sleep quality, but some case studies from a team in Chicago and sleep experts found obsessing over the results on the monitor can backfire and cause insomnia. Most of these apps have not been clinically validated and track only movement during sleep.

Takeaway: There's a term for it: orthosomnia.

Personal note: This press release features Dr. Vishesh Kapur, who I would recommend as a speaker for any state sleep society looking to fill out their next conference lineup. I've learned a ton from him!


CPAP vs NIV for Ambulatory Patients With Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome
August 23, 2019

From the article: “Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may be a preferred alternative to noninvasive ventilation (NIV) as first-line therapy in stable ambulatory patients with obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) and concurrent severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), as suggested by study results published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. Despite the conclusions of this study, the investigators indicated that NIV and CPAP exhibit comparable efficacy profiles in this patient population.

Takeaway: Both options seen as equal, it looks like the path any clinician chooses for treating OHS will be left up to that clinic's protocol. What does your clinic prefer: NIV or CPAP?


3D Facial Photography as a Screener for Sleep Apnea
August 21, 2019

From the article: “Three-dimensional facial photography can provide a simple and highly accurate method of predicting the presence of obstructive sleep apnea, according to a study led by The University of Western Australia (UWA). …The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, builds on previous work identifying that the structure of the face, head, and neck played a key role in diagnosing sleep apnea.

Takeaway: Don't panic! The technology doesn't titrate or do anything for all the other sleep disorders we look for in the lab. If anything, it might make it easier to flag potential patients who might fall through the cracks otherwise.  


What Science Says About Using Sleep Medications
August 20, 2019

From the blog: “But sleeping pills might not be the best path to a healthier relationship with sleep. As neuroscientist and 'sleep diplomat' Matthew Walker explains in his 2017 bestseller Why We Sleep : 'Sleeping pills do not provide natural sleep, can damage health, and increase the risk of life-threatening diseases.'

Takeaway: One wonders if this message will ever reach the mainstream, though...


Ask the Doctor: IH, CFS and Fibromyalgia – How Do They Differ?
August 20, 2019

From the advice column: “What’s the difference between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and idiopathic hypersomnia (IH)? How do they differ from fibromyalgia? And how many people with IH also have CFS or fibromyalgia? A medical expert explains! We are very pleased to have Lynn Marie Trotti, MD, MSc, of Emory University, and the Chair of our Medical Advisory Board, answer these questions.

Takeaway: As you likely already know, patients can struggle to articulate differences between fatigue and daytime sleepiness. This could be due to combined problems with both, especially among those with multiple comorbid conditions. It's not an easy distinction to make, nor is it easy to describe. The HF offers some clarity here. 


A $1,500 drug that claims to cure jet lag has been held up by the FDA
August 19, 2019

From the article: “'Given Hetlioz's orphan pricing in Non-24, we had estimated the cost for 3 days of therapy for JLD would have been approximately ~$1,500, much higher than OTC and/or Rx sleep products which are typically used,' Derek Archila, an analyst at Stifel, told clients in a note Monday.

Takeaway: Could be a potential casualty of the current drug pricing wars? Or maybe people are just willing to live with jet lag disorder and use the current options? Hard to say if the motives here are political or simply pragmatic. 

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.