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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman on February 5th, 2019

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: February 5, 2019

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

sleeping arctic fox

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



 

ADVOCATE WATCH

How Do You Feel About Pilots Napping In The Cockpit During Flight?
FORBES
January 21, 2019

From the article: “So if your pilot is allowed to take controlled naps in the cockpit, under very strict guidelines, would you be comfortable flying in that airplane?”

Takeaway: Check out the arguments both for and against CRIP: controlled rest in position.

CULTURE WATCH
Stress and dream sleep are linked to pathways of brain cell death and survival
UNIVERSITY via NEWSWISE
January 28, 2019

From the article: “Mice exposed to mild stressors developed signs of depression… Monitoring their sleeping patterns, researchers identified an increase in the duration and continuity of REM sleep and specific brain oscillations characteristic of REM sleep, whereas 'deep' sleep, or non-REM sleep, did not change. The changes in REM sleep were very tightly linked to deficiency in the regulation of the stress hormone corticosterone.

Takeaway: Understanding these changes in brain activity in response to stress may help researchers better understand the link between sleep and stress recovery. 

INDUSTRY WATCH

More DNA Breaks Found in Doctors Who Work Overnight Shifts
SLEEP REVIEW
January 29, 2019

From the article: “In the observational study on 49 healthy full-time doctors who had their blood analyzed at different time points, on-call doctors who were required to work overnight on-site had lower DNA repair gene expression and more DNA breaks than participants who did not work overnight. In these overnight on-site call doctors, DNA repair gene expression decreased and DNA breaks increased after sleep deprivation. Damaged DNA increased after only one night of sleep deprivation.

Takeaway: Yes, the study is small and has limitations, but it also points to the importance of doing more research on DNA damage which may be linked to sleep deprivation, especially in shift workers.  

TREND WATCH

Steep Climb In Benzodiazepine Prescribing By Primary Care Doctors
NPR
January 25, 2019

From the article: “The percentage of outpatient medical visits that led to a benzodiazepine prescription doubled from 2003 to 2015, according to a study published Friday. And about half those prescriptions came from primary care physicians. …This class of drugs includes the commonly used medications Valium, Ativan and Xanax. While benzodiazepines are mostly prescribed for anxiety, insomnia and seizures, the study found that the biggest rise in prescriptions during this time period was for back pain and other types of chronic pain. The findings appear online in JAMA Network Open.” 

Takeaway: Patients who use these drugs for pain relief may not realize they can have a negative impact on their breathing during sleep. It's always worthwhile to flag benzodiazepine use in tech notes in those patients with test results that show upper airway resistance and drops in O2, just to be on the safe side. 

TECHNOLOGY WATCH

High-Tech Luxe Beds Know How You're Sleeping (And Snoring)
TWICE
February 4, 2019

From the article: “A high-tech bedroom used to mean a rotating or vibrating bed (or both), strobe or not-too-subtle colored lighting, and perhaps Barry White sensually crooning from in-wall speakers. But at least three bed makers—Sleep Number, Magniflex and Duxiana—are integrating smart technologies into their mattresses and box springs to aid REM rather than ribaldry.

Takeaway: But those high pricetags, though…

PHARMA WATCH

Baclofen Improves Excessive Daytime Sleepiness in Narcolepsy
NEUROLOGY ADVISOR
January 25, 2019

From the article: “Baclofen is a centrally acting GABA-beta agonist that is frequently used in pediatric patients for the treatment of dystonia, rigidity, and spasticity, which are associated with a variety of disorders, including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and poststroke symptomatology. Evidence suggests that baclofen may offer sleep benefits by reducing sleep latency and increasing slow-wave sleep. The use of baclofen has also been shown to increase total sleep time — both rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep duration — and has been associated with a significant reduction in the time spent awake after sleep onset.” 

Takeaway: Only 5 patients were observed in this study, so let's see what happens if they open up this research to larger populations. Baclofen is typically used as a muscle relaxant, which makes this study featuring people with narcolepsy a little curious, given that muscle atonia is a part of the narcolepsy tetrad (by way of cataplexy). 

HEALTH LITERACY WATCH

Sick And Tired? Scientists Find Protein That Puts Flies To Sleep And Fights Infection
NPR
January 31, 2019

From the article: “Overall, scientists still have a lot to learn about what makes us feel sleepy, when we're healthy or sick. Some genes have been identified that seem to affect sleep, but none that actively induce sleepiness when turned on. …But a study, published Thursday in the journal Science, finds one potential piece of the puzzle — in fruit flies. Scientists discovered a single protein that both puts flies to sleep when they're sick and also has antimicrobial properties.”

Takeaway: Great support for the common advice of bedrest for those who are sick or recovering from illness or injury. 

LEGISLATION WATCH

Homeless Students May Be Allowed To Sleep In Cars Overnight At California Community Colleges
CBS SACRAMENTO
January 30, 2019

From the article: “[Assemblymember Marc Berman (D- Palo Alto)] said, 'Over the last two years, I’ve heard from too many students that they don’t have stable housing and often end up sleeping in their cars. Unfortunately, this is all too common throughout California, with one in four community college students experiencing housing insecurities or homelessness. The long term solution is to build more housing, but while we work to make that a reality, AB 302 is a step that we can take now to ensure that homeless students have a safe place to sleep at night.'” 

Takeaway: Suddenly that crummy student housing some of us lived in during our college years looks a lot more accommodating now. 


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.