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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH on October 15th, 2019

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: October 15, 2019

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

sleeping goats at the fair

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



Rare sleep disorder common among veterans with PTSD
October 11, 2019

From the research summary: “Military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or concussion suffer from a thrashing form of sleep behavior at a rate that is far higher than the general population, according to a new study. Researchers next want to probe whether the sleep disorder might provide an early signal of the development of neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease.

Takeaway: Right here is one terribly unfortunate reason why we will all continue to have jobs in the future. The good news is that we can help these military service workers to prevent further neurodegeneration down the line by advocating for them in the clinic and out in the community.


Demons in the Sleep Center: Narcolepsy Mimicking Other Sleep Disorders
October 10, 2019

From the research summary: “Due to the variability in its symptoms and similarity to other sleep disorders, narcolepsy can be misdiagnosed. Currently, the disorder affects nearly 1 in 2000 people in the United States and 3 million people worldwide, but it is estimated that narcolepsy is properly diagnosed in only 25% of the individuals who have it. Symptoms typically begin to appear during childhood and adolescence, but people can live with narcolepsy for years before receiving a definitive diagnosis. ...This report describes an interesting case in which a patient presented with symptoms mimicking those of other sleep disorders but in whom narcolepsy was ultimately diagnosed and confirmed with the results of an MSLT study.

Takeaway: I can vouch for this first hand (though my diagnosis was not narcolepsy)! All of you who do daytime nap tests, thank you for your service! 


Targeting Clock Genes Could Help Counter Effect of Erratic Sleep Schedules on GI Problems
October 7, 2019

From the article: “The findings, published Oct 4 in Science Immunology, help explain why disruptions to circadian rhythms are linked to gastrointestinal problems. Further, they suggest that targeting clock genes could affect immune cells and help counter the negative effects of erratic sleep schedules associated with intestinal illnesses.

Takeaway: Circadian science is exploding and guess what? All paths seem always to lead back to sleep. You can expect to see more and deeper connections between sleep health and comorbid conditions based on circadian neuroscience in the coming years.   


HHS seeks Stark Law exceptions to boost value-based care
OCTOBER 10, 2019

From the website: “CMS on Wednesday released a proposed rule to remove what they describe as unintended hurdles to coordination of patient care due to outdated rules about clinicians' financial relationships. The measure would create new exceptions to the so-called Stark law, which dates to 1989.

Takeaway: If you recall, the Stark law limits sleep physicians and their clinics from profiting off of their patients via sales of PAP equipment and supplies. This current proposal focuses on special "carve outs" for cybersecurity but demonstrates an ongoing effort to update these regulations with exceptions that more aptly fit the needs of patients and don't stand in the way of quality of care.  


I tried to hack my insomnia with technology. Here’s what worked. 
October 8, 2019

From the article: “[A]bout a quarter of Americans experience acute insomnia every year, a statistic that’s replicated elsewhere around the world. In the US alone, that’s 82 million people who struggle with sleep. …Given those figures, it’s no wonder there are so many tech startups hoping to cash in by 'fixing' sleep for sufferers. After a period of particularly bad sleeplessness, I decided to give some of them a go. Maybe one of the sleep tech products on the market could prove a better option than just popping pills.

Takeaway: This is a pretty fair overview of current offerings in consumer sleep technology (CST) that you might want to become familiar with if you are finding your patients are asking, more and more, about these sleep tech options. 


Yale Sleep Researchers Awarded $4.6M To Study Sleep Deficiency / Opioid Use Disorder
October 7, 2019

From the article: “The NIH HEAL Initiative aims to improve treatments for chronic pain, curb the rates of opioid use disorder and overdose and achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction.

Takeaway: The sleep lab may be yet another frontier for fighting and resolving the problem of opioid addiction in the US. 


The medical illiteracy epidemic
October 14, 2019

From the column: “My interaction with the young couple after the conference reminded me of that way I feel every time I go to the auto-mechanic—while I have devoted a lot of time and energy to understanding the complex workings of the human body, I know next to nothing when it comes to fixing a car [i.e., when they tell me: 'your catalytic converter is punishing your transmission,' I just do my best to look very serious and nod in agreement until they tell me how much it’s going to cost me].

Takeaway: It is part of every RPSGT's job to be a patient educator, and that means making sure every interaction you have with a patient is meaningful to them. We can easily lose patients to bad decision-making and noncompliance at home when we don't carefully educate them about their sleep concerns and solutions at a level they understand.  


California dreamin’: Why the state is the first to mandate later start times for middle and high schools
October 14, 2019

From the article: “California just became the first state to require most middle and high schools to start later in the morning, bringing them in line with research showing that teenagers benefit academically and in other ways. …Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation Sunday that would, over three years, phase in a change in start times so middle schools could not begin earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Some rural schools are exempt.

Takeaway: Congratulations to the state of California and the Start School Later campaign and many thanks to all the AAST members who contributed in some way to this major milestone!

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.