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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH on September 17th, 2019

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: September 17, 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.



Access to Care Week
August 23, 2019

From the website: “Today, more than 93 million adult Americans are living with obesity. Many do not know obesity is a disease and that their healthcare provider can help them with weight-loss and maintenance. Others do not have insurance coverage to help them pay for these healthcare options. …Everyone should have access to healthcare. Access should not be limited by a person’s size, weight or economic status. Access to care is not a complicated idea. It can mean different things for different people, but in the end, it is about people getting the help they need to treat obesity. …Access to care begins with seeing obesity as a chronic disease diagnosed by a healthcare provider.

Takeaway: Many of our patients end up in our care because of the well-established connection between poor sleep and obesity. It behooves us all to give these patients the same quality of care and compassion as we do all other patients. Fat shaming, in particular, is not compatible with the provision of quality of health care.  It's a good reminder—not just for this week, but for every night we work with patientsthat obesity is both a cause and effect issue with sleep health and our job is to help them bridge this widespread medical problem without judgment.


Out of Breath
August 23, 2019

From the project summary: “Nearly one billion people suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea. A 40 year old device is the only widespread treatment option. Why do medical students get minimal training and fewer doctors enter the field? This film will explore personal stories of lives shattered and expert testimony on the reasons professionals ignore this disease.

Takeaway: Sometimes the best way to deliver the  message of health is through the arts. This film sounds like an amazing project, which a high-caliber advisory board already established.


Disruption in Health Care (and Sleep Medicine): “It’s the End of the World as We Know it…and I Feel Fine.”
September 15, 2019

From the commentary: “[T]he practitioners of sleep medicine cannot survive future disruption by being closed-minded to potential improvements in patient access, diagnosis and therapies. We need to acknowledge the many positive ways (and perhaps some negative ways, too) in which innovative technology is going to disrupt the field of sleep medicine in the years ahead. Fear of the unknown should not overpower the desire to learn, adapt, and prosper.”—Dr. Douglas B. Kirsch, 2019–2020 immediate past president, AASM

Takeaway: Lots of detours ahead in the world of sleep medicine (and sleep technology); hang on for the bumps in the road!  


The Association Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea Characterized by a Minimum 3 Percent Oxygen Desaturation or Arousal Hypopnea Definition and Hypertension
September 15, 2019

From the research study: “In summary, this large cross sectional study provides robust support for an association between OSA defined by a more inclusive definition than previously utilized in several other studies and CMS, and hypertension. Specifically, the odds of the presence of hypertension, regardless of how it was defined, were higher in those with 3% desaturation events or arousals, even in absence of more severe desaturation. Contemplating the morbidity associated with hypertension, universal adoption of a less restrictive definition of OSA appears to be a prudent step toward ensuring appropriate diagnosis and adequate therapy, thus mitigating associated adverse outcomes and higher health care costs.

Takeaway: It would be fantastic if the AASM and CMS could come to a singular agreement about this definition. 


Dreem Releases Biofeedback Headband System to Help Consumers Monitor Their Sleep
September 10, 2019

From the article: “Dreem has released a biofeedback headband with seven sensors that work together to measure key biomarkers, including brain activity (EEG), heart rate, breathing and movement. The system works with a smartphone app to guide users toward improved sleep, the company announced this week.

Takeaway: If Stanford Sleep Center is on board with this company and its technologies (and they are), then there must be something to it, yes?  


The Truth About Prescription and OTC Sleep Aids [Podcast 71]
September 10, 2019

From the podcast: “In this episode, Kathy and I are going to be talking about another controversial topic that many of you have probably had some experience with at one time or another…and that’s the issue of sleeping pills and OTC sleep aids. In particular, we will be discussing:

  • Why sleeping pills are usually the wrong way of treating insomnia
  • Why insomnia may not really be insomnia
  • How to wean yourself off sleeping pills
  • A non-prescription therapy that’s better than sleeping pills in the long run.

Takeaway: Dr. Park's podcast is definitely worth a listen. He touches on topics and controversies that a lot of other sleep doctors shy away from. 


Circadian Rhythm: New Line of Light Bulbs Provide the Right Light for Different Times of the Day
September 10, 2019

From the article: “Light bulb manufacturer Norb has announced the release of the NorbSLEEP light bulb this week to provide a soft, warm, white-color light produced in the wavelengths of natural evening light. According to the company, the new line of bulbs modulate the circadian rhythm.

Takeaway: These could be useful for sleep clinic spaces (labs and suites) as well as for home use.


Engineer with sleep apnea who caused fatal Hoboken train crash gets his job back
September 11, 2019

From the article: “The engineer who was operating an NJ Transit train that crashed in Hoboken Terminal in September 2016, killing a woman walking through the station and injuring 108, will return to work after winning an appeal. …Thomas Gallagher, who blacked out at the controls on Sept. 29, 2016, due to undiagnosed sleep apnea, won his arbitration case on Aug. 28 and will be reinstated as an engineer, as long as he meets medical conditions and continues sleep apnea treatment.

Takeaway: This is where sleep health educators and sleep technologists working with DME providers and/or directly with patients can participate in a truly valuable public service: compliance monitoring and support. 

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.