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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman on March 26th, 2019

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: March 26, 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.



Hospital defends giving ear plugs and eye masks to patients left on trolleys
March 20, 2019

From the article: University Hospital Limerick, which serves patients from North Tipperary, has defended its practice of handing out ear plugs and eye masks to patients on trolleys after the issue was raised by Cllr Seamus Morris.

The Nenagh-based councillor criticised the practice as 'acceptance of the consistently worsening trolley situation.' He said that handing out the accessories was to allow patients some modicum of comfort in their long stay while waiting for a bed in the 'great hospital bed lottery.' 

A spokesperson for University Hospital Limerick said in a statement that staff work to minimise the impact of any noise or light on our patients at night and the lights were dimmed or switched off where it was possible to do so.

Takeaway: It makes sense to help patients get their sleep by issuing ear plugs and eye masks while they wait on gurneys for rooms to open, but would you, as a patient supine and vulnerable on a gurney in a hall, with people walking by, wear them and still feel relaxed enough to sleep? 


Could excessive sleep during pregnancy be related to stillbirths?
March 24, 2019

From the article: O’Brien and her colleagues analyzed online surveys from 153 women who had experienced a late stillbirth (on or after 28 weeks of pregnancy) during the month previous to answering the questionnaire and 480 women with an ongoing third-trimester pregnancy or who had recently delivered a live born baby during the same period. The findings, recently published in the journal Birth, suggest a connection between long periods of undisturbed maternal sleep and stillbirth, independent of other risk factors.” 

Takeaway: This is new; most sleep research on pregnant women focuses on sleep breathing and lost sleep. It's good that researchers are focusing on women's health these days, for this reason. Many mothers-to-be may be trying to sleep longer thinking that is the solution. 


Strengthening Memories During Sleep
March 22, 2019

From the article: “Ever since these findings were first published, they have sparked the imagination of sleep and memory researchers. Follow-up studies have found that cueing during sleep can improve memory not only for spatial locations but also for motor-related and vocabulary learning. Dozens of studies have considered the application of TMR* for various types of memories and explored related questions, such as the ability to learn new information during sleep.

Takeaway: It's excitement over research like this that can motivate ordinary people to try to sleep better.

*TMR: Targeted memory reactivation


Perfusion MRI shows CPAP healing the brains of apnea patients
March 22, 2019

From the article: It’s well established that widely used CPAP devices help give a good night’s rest to people with obstructive sleep apnea. Now an MRI-based study has shown the breathing assistance provided by continuous positive airway pressure also increases blood flow to, and blood volume in, the brain.  The result may be the restoration of brain tissue damaged by hypoxemia. That’s according to researchers at the University of Toronto and Tel Aviv University whose pilot study is set to run in the May edition of Sleep Medicine. ” 

Takeaway: This new evidence may give patients with neurological and cardiovascular conditions more motivation to stick with their PAP therapy.  


Vida Health unveils machine learning behavior tool, Sleep Health coaching program
March 18, 2019

From the blog: Habits [a personalized behavior recommendation and reminder tool powered by machine learning] has been deployed within each of Vida’s chronic health coaching programs, the newest among which is Sleep Health. The eight-week offering’s cognitive behavioral therapy design is similar to Vida’s depression and anxiety programs, [Vida Health CEO Stephanie] Tilenius said, and comes bundled with a Fitbit to help users accurately track the duration and quality of their nightly sleep or other health-related behaviors. Within the platform, users will be served content instructing them on effective wind-down routines, screen time management and other relevant strategies. Additionally, health coaches within Vida’s network will be specifically paired to the sleep program for sessions with users.

Takeaway: One must wonder who the health coaches are this could be an interesting job prospect for a sleep tech with a CCSH credential.  


'Humiliating:' Warner Robins woman says she took a prescription sleeping pill one summer night. Her nightmare came the next morning.
March 19, 2019

From the broadcast transcript:

Zach Merchant: "You took the Ambien that you were prescribed as prescribed?
Linda Meade: "Yes."

ZM: "You took the dosage that was prescribed?"
LM: "Yes."

ZM: "You didn't drink alcohol with it?"
LM: "No."

ZM: "You were instructed to sleep 8 hours before driving, and you slept more than 8 hours before driving?"
LM: "Right."

ZM: "You did everything you were told to do --"
LM: "Everything."

ZM: "And yet you still blacked out and ended up in jail?"
LM: "Right."

Takeaway: It goes without saying: Never let a patient drive themselves home if they've taken zolpidem and are behaving unusually or seem excessively sleepy the morning after a sleep test. 


Nappuccinos To Weekend Z's: Strategize To Catch Up On Lost Sleep
March 24, 2019

From the broadcast: “[e]ven after a weekend of catch-up sleep, the participants still gained as much weight as those in the study who had not been allowed to get the extra weekend sleep.
…So, bottom line: It can be hard for our metabolism to recover from a week of sleep deprivation, and—over time—chronic sleep loss can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Takeaway: It's good to see the public media detailing the consequences of lost sleep in terms that people can understand, such as weight gain and diabetes. It's also good to see them offering real-world solutions that can be practiced by just about anybody. 

PS: Gotta love the term nappuccino.


Ford Commissions Sleep Suit To Study ‘Zombie Drivers’
March 20, 2019

From the video notes: Ford warns travelers that fatigue is a major factor in up to 1 in 5 road crashes. To help study this, Ford has commissioned the creation of a 'sleep suit' that simulates what happens when people become 'zombie drivers.' Often times, people fall asleep for very short periods of time, otherwise known as ‘microsleeps’, which can be extremely dangerous behind the wheel, for obvious reasons. This sleep suit from Ford simulates tired driving in a number of ways as part of a study involving the driving habits of young people.” 

Takeaway: It's difficult to measure and prove driver fatigue without research tools like this one. Good on Ford for funding this effort, though why limit the research to young people? 

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.