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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH on October 29th, 2019

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: October 29, 2019

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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


ADVOCACY WATCH

AWAKETOGETHER Summit 2019
AMERICAN SLEEP APNEA ASSOCIATION
October 14, 2019

From the blog: “Gatherings like this provide an opportunity to share results of previously gathered information important to improving our health while collecting new ideas and information, while setting needs assessments for moving forward. If only we could all afford to do this more often. Subscribing to the ASAA’s YouTube collection is a great way to keep in the loop on the latest initiatives by the organization and the public they serve.

Takeaway: This is a rare patient-forward event from a family-rooted sleep apnea advocacy organization.

CULTURE WATCH

Social media use and adolescent sleep patterns: cross-sectional findings from the UK millennium cohort study
BMJ
October 22, 2019

From the research summary: “Results indicate statistically and practically significant associations between social media use and sleep patterns, particularly late sleep onset. Sleep education and interventions can focus on supporting young people to balance online interactions with an appropriate sleep schedule that allows sufficient sleep on school nights.

Takeaway: The challenge here is figuring out how to motivate these teens and who should take on that task. Parents? Educators? Peer outreach groups? It's hard to say who will be able to promote this message with any effectiveness. Social media use is as much a poor sleep hygiene practice for parents as it is for their kids. Also, teens are crafty about workarounds to household social media and screen rules.  

TREND WATCH

On Not Knowing What We Don’t Know to Knowing What We Don’t Know: Obstructive Sleep Apnea in the Transgender Community
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL SLEEP MEDICINE
October 20, 2019

From the commentary: “There are many questions needing answers since individuals undergoing gender reassignment are presenting to our sleep disorders centers in greater numbers. Robust data from Sweden, where a 1972 statute protocolled surgical and legal sex reassignment tell us that pharmaceutical treatment for female-to-male (FtM) transitioning tripled from the decades between 1972–2000 compared to the decade 2001–2010, and for male-to-female (MtF) transitioning increased four-fold (Table 1). Undoubtedly, a parallel trend is occurring in the U.S. and elsewhere, and practicing sleep medicine physicians require answers, particularly with respect to OSA in these individuals. …In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, Robertson and colleagues present us with a small case series that hints at the issues we now face. They report 3 patients who have had changes in OSA status after hormone therapy for gender affirmation.

Takeaway: It appears that Sweden is way ahead of the US on this topic; we can stand to learn a lot from them.  

INDUSTRY WATCH

DME Medicare Administrative Contractors clarify sleep study scoring requirements
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF SLEEP MEDICINE
October 25, 2019

From the website: “Two durable medical equipment (DME) Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) — CGS Administrators, LLC and Noridian Healthcare Solutions, LLC — have released “Dear Physician Letters” to highlight requirements for sleep study scoring. Per the MACs, adhering to the information provided in the letters will allow you to ensure that you are documenting and sharing the correct information with suppliers while also providing the best care for your patients by helping them obtain and keep the needed equipment in accordance with DME MAC requirements.

Takeaway: I imagine a future where these 1 percent distinctions are a thing of the past. Check out this month's Journal Club on hypopnea scoring if you hold out hope for simplifying scoring protocols to eliminate what research continues to demonstrate are irrelevant scoring distinctions.  

TECHNOLOGY WATCH

CleveMed Achieves Accreditation for Home Sleep Testing
SLEEP REVIEW
October 15, 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. 

PHARMA WATCH

Hypnotic Discontinuation Using a Blinded (Masked) Tapering Approach: A Case Series
FRONTIERS IN PSYCHIATRY
October 24, 2019

From the study: “Chronic use of hypnotic medications such as benzodiazepines is associated with adverse consequences including increased risk of falls. Efforts to help patients discontinue these medications have had varying levels of success. We developed a blinded (masked) tapering protocol to help patients taper off hypnotics. In this blinded protocol, patients consented to a drug taper but agreed to forego knowledge about the specific tapering schedule or the actual dose each night until the end of the taper. Blinded tapering aims to reduce negative expectancies for withdrawal effects that may impair a patient’s successful discontinuation of hypnotics.

Takeaway: The makers of hypnotic sleep aids are probably not very happy about this. 

HEALTH LITERACY WATCH

Penn State research informs Pennsylvania report on school start times
PENN STATE NEWS
October 17, 2019

From the article: “The report also recommends …that sleep health literacy be a part of school health curriculum.

Takeaway: Music to my ears! I spoke on "sleep health literacy" as a standalone concept for the WSSS in 2014. If we can't get patients to practice good health literacy in general, we can at least spark their interest in sleep health literacy, no? 

LEGAL WATCH

Employer-Mandated Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment and Healthcare Cost Savings among Truckers
SLEEP
October 14, 2019

From the article: “Eighteen-month non-OSA-program medical claim costs savings from diagnosing (and treating as required) 100 Screen-positive Controls: $153,042 (95% CI: -$5,352, $330,525). Model-estimated effect of treatment on those adhering to APAP: -$441 per-member per-month (95% CI: -$861, -$21).

Takeaway: For these kinds of savings, it's a no brainer: mandatory OSA screenings are good for the trucking business bottom line.


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.