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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH on December 10th, 2019

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: December 10, 2019

Sleep Technologist Advice

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


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


Call for action as exhausted doctors risk death on road
December 1, 2019

From the article: “A recent survey of 3,847 consultants in anaesthesia and paediatric intensive care medicine found work-related fatigue impacting on all areas of life. …More than one in 10 respondents admitted to having had a car accident or near miss while fatigued in their consultant career, and many more as a junior doctor.

Takeaway: Getting adequate sleep is such a blindspot for physicians and healthcare professionals. The threat of drowsy driving accidents alone should be enough reason for teaching medical students more than an hour of sleep medicine while they're in school. The vagaries of sleep deprivation during on-the-job training in the emergency department or due to shift work while in school full time are not something anyone can simply "power through." 


Update on the Treatment of Idiopathic Hypersomnia 
November 25, 2019

From the research study: “Published research on IH is scarce and, in the published studies, sample sizes are mostly small, due to a low prevalence. This leads to combination trials in both narcolepsy and IH and to the absence of drugs to treat IH that are approved by the European Medicine Agency (EMA). Almost all studies are open label studies, and as already mentioned, the interpretation is difficult because of the changing definitions of the disorder over time. This leads to large heterogeneity in the published case series and clinical trials. In addition, inclusion and exclusion criteria vary, focusing mostly on individuals with either treatment-naïve or treatment refractory IH.

Takeaway: People with IH desperately want to be taken seriously; their hypersomnia challenges may or may not be adequately addressed through treatments originally designed for those with narcolepsy. 


$2.9M funds new UIC study on sleep apnea, chronic kidney disease
December 3, 2019

From the press release: “Chronic kidney disease is characterized by a slow, progressive decline in kidney function. If untreated, the disease leads to end-stage renal failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant. The two most common risk factors are high blood pressure and diabetes. …A previous study led by Dr. Ana Ricardo, UIC associate professor of medicine in the College of Medicine, demonstrated that poor sleep quality and short sleep duration speeds up the progression of kidney disease.

Takeaway: Keep your eyes peeled for more research tying chronic kidney problems to sleep problems, especially sleep apnea. It's definitely showing up on the research radar. 


Transition to Adult Care for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
December 2, 2019

From the research study: “[R]ecently, there has been a precipitous increase in the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in youth. Drivers of this phenomenon include both increasing obesity and the survival of children with complex medical conditions into adulthood. Appropriate treatment and long-term management of obstructive sleep apnea is critical to ensure that these youth maintain well-being unfettered by secondary comorbidities. To this end, patient engagement and seamless transition of care from pediatric to adult health care systems is of paramount importance. To date, this is an unacknowledged and unmet need in most sleep programs. This article highlights the need for guideline-driven sleep disorder transition processes and illustrates the authors’ experience with the development of a program for sleep apnea.

Takeaway: It might be interesting to see longitudinal research measuring how many children who've treated their sleep apnea in their youth actually continue to maintain their therapy into adulthood.  


Fitbit may track sleep time accurately, but overestimate problems
December 10, 2019

From the article: “Two small studies conducted by Monash University, published in the Journal of Sleep Research this week, found a Fitbit is comparable at measuring sleep time to clinical devices. However, when measuring the quality of a person's sleep, wearable devices recorded the person as having a more shallow sleep than they actually obtained.

Takeaway: Just one more thing for patients to worry about: not getting enough quality sleep!


Melatonin: Is it safe for babies?
December 5, 2019

From the article: “Newborns produce extremely low levels of melatonin, and production increases with age.

Takeaway: The best advice is for a parent to discuss their concerns about their baby's sleep with their pediatrician. However, as long as melatonin is cheap and easy to procure from any grocery store or pharmacy, it's going to be an appealing alternative for busy parents wishing to skip the doctor entirely.


Narcolepsy diagnoses plagued by misunderstandings
December 6, 2019

From the website: “Physicians’ misunderstanding of narcolepsy is not new. Nearly 30 years ago, sleep disorder experts wrote in the Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology that narcolepsy 'is probably the most clearly misunderstood diagnostic category' among patients who complain of excessive daytime sleepiness, generally considered a telltale feature of the condition.

Takeaway: Thank goodness for activists like Julie Flygare who work nonstop to raise public awareness of this challenging sleep disorder.


We asked a sleep expert to analyze the presidential candidates’ sleep habits
December 9, 2019

From the article: “Everyone benefits from a good night’s sleep, including presidential candidates. Yet according to a video series published by the New York Times in June 2019, many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates admitted to not getting enough sleep in the campaign trail, or at least less than the recommended amount for American adults.

Takeaway: We should hardly be surprised by this, but it's still concerning that a potential leader of the free world could continue patterns of inadequate sleep if elected. Our current president is thought to be sleep deprived, though some would argue he is a "short sleeper."  

BIO:  AAST blog columnist 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 sleep-related columns for two chronic illness patient advocacy publishers, and contributes as a freelance writer to AAST’s magazine, A2Zzz. She can be reached at sleepyheadcentral@gmail.com.