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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH on June 18th, 2019

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: June 18, 2019

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

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



AASM Award Acceptance Remarks by Senator Portantino
June 13, 2019

From the video: “Senator Anthony Portantino received the AASM's Mark O. Hatfield Public Policy or Advocacy Award for developing public policy that positively affects the healthy sleep of all Americans at SLEEP 2019 in San Antonio. 

Takeaway: Start School Later efforts by this California senator are getting a much-needed spotlight. What happens in CA could have a national impact.


Restless Legs Syndrome Tied to Gut Health
June 13, 2019

From the article: “Preliminary research suggests an association between small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and restless legs syndrome (RLS), supporting emerging research linking gut microbial health to sleep health. …While the study is ongoing and recruitment just beginning, the researchers found SIBO in all 7 RLS patients studied to date. 
      'We found very high rates of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in these RLS patients,' lead investigator Daniel J. Blum, PhD, adjunct clinical instructor at Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine in Redwood City, California, told Medscape Medical News. Exploring this relationship further could lead to new ways to detect, prevent, and treat RLS, he said.

Takeaway: It can be easy to underestimate the impact of RLS on patients if we're mostly working to diagnose and treat sleep breathing disorders. However, RLS is a major cause for sleep dysfunction and people who experience it deserve answers about what causes it as well as more effective and clear-cut treatment solutions


Doctors: use social media with restraint
June 10, 2019

From the commentary: “Doctors, who hitherto got things off their chests in private, now bellow their discontent to the world. This may be therapeutic and may humanize doctors, but it risks undermining public confidence and damaging the nobility of the medical profession. A loss of confidence in doctors brings a greater inclination for patients to challenge, complain, and sue. Moreover, it risks the loss of the placebo effect borne from seeing doctors, whose very presence can be reassuring.

Takeaway:  Swap "healthcare professionals" with "doctors," then reread. I can personally think of many virtual group situations where sleep techs have done the profession a great disservice by lowering the professionalism bar with their comments (i.e., HIPAA violations, unprofessional language and demeanor, verbal or sexual harassment in public forums or private messages). We have a lot of work to do as sleep healthcare professionals in the social media arena. 


Combination therapy with mandibular advancement and expiratory positive airway pressure valves reduces obstructive sleep apnea severity
June 10, 2019

From the proof: “[T]his study evaluated the efficacy of combination therapy with MAS [mandibular advancement splint] plus EPAP [expiratory positive airway pressure] in incomplete/nonresponders to MAS alone.

Takeaway:  Let's not forget that there are other options for treating sleep disordered breathing that don't include positive airway pressure. Research continues to show valid reasons to try oral appliances and/or EPAP valves in some cases where other therapies, including PAP, don't work. It always comes down to what works for the patient, right? 


Telemedicine Highlighted in Treatments for Insomnia, Sleep Disorders
June 12, 2019

From the blog: “Researchers say therapy delivered via telemedicine is just as effective as in-person treatment for insomnia, while payers are adding digital therapeutics to their resources for members dealing with sleep disorders.” 

Takeaway: This is encouraging for patients and healthcare providers. There are simply not enough physicians to address the endless line of insomnia patients face to face. Telemedicine will remove a huge obstacle. Another benefit? Those with CCSH credentials, in particular, may be able to expand their employability into a telemedicine sleep clinic in need of sleep disorder patient coordinators.  


Prescription Patterns of Sedative Hypnotic Medications in the Military Health System
June 15, 2019

From the abstract: “Using a retrospective cohort study design, we extracted data on sedative hypnotic medications (benzodiazepine receptor agonists, benzodiazepines, sedating antidepressants, and melatonin receptor agonist) dispensed from January 2009 to December 2015. Prevalence was defined as ≥ 1 dispensing per patient per year whereas chronic episode was categorized as ≥ 90 days of continuous therapy. ” 

Takeaway: This study compared medication usage between active duty service members and nonactive members already receiving care. Conclusions suggest that, while we may be giving our returning military service members at least some attention for sleep dysfunctions once they return from duty, our active service members also need more attention paid to their current sleep health (and disorders) while still on the job. 


Estimated prevalence of OSA in the Americas stands at 170 million
June 9, 2019

From the conference coverage, "Reporting from SLEEP 2019": “'I would not have thought that there are 170 million people in the Americas with clinically important sleep apnea based on our conservative estimates,' the study’s first author, Atul Malhotra, MD, said in an interview in advance of the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. 'Even if we restrict the conversation to moderate to severe sleep apnea, we still see 81 million people afflicted in the Americas alone. We have recently estimated almost 1 billion patients afflicted with OSA worldwide.'

Takeaway: These are stunning statistics; key to our jobs in sleep technology and clinical sleep health education is the ongoing face-to-face educational campaign about sleep apnea. This includes discussions with patients and their families, as well as community-facing public education. It can also include savvy social media efforts, if done right. Does your clinic strive to raise awareness? If not, it's past time to be proactive. 


Time to Show Leadership on the Daylight Saving Time Debate
June 15, 2019

From the editorial: Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson: As sleep health care providers, we …are entirely focused on the sleep and circadian health of our patients and the public at large. The time is now for us to act consistent with our beliefs. State and federal DST [daylight saving time] policies are being crafted to the detriment of the sleep health principles we hold dear. Almost 70% of the world is on ST [standard time], including Hawaii and most of the state of Arizona, indicating the international community understands the negative effect of DST on their health and well-being and rejects it. I strongly believe the United States should do the same.” 

Takeaway: If you agree with Dr. Watson,  you may wish to add your voice to this effort. 

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.