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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH on December 8th, 2020

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: December 8, 2020

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.


For the latest information, please check the following resources:


AASM establishes Congressional Sleep Health Caucus
December 2, 2020

From the article: “[Co-chairs] Lofgren and Davis previously introduced House Resolution 1103 to designate the third week of September as National Student Sleep Health Week. The caucus will host congressional briefings on topics such as the elimination of daylight saving time, student sleep health and school start times, and sleep health disparities.

Takeaway: Welcome to the future face of sleep medicine activism.  


A Popular New Book Elicits Gasps of Delight & Concern from Sleep Specialists
December 4, 2020

From the book review: “Sleep medicine professionals are experts on the nuances of breath. The subspecialty has a keen understanding of the havoc that disordered breathing can wreak on a patient’s health and well-being. Scientist journalist James Nestor is also fascinated by the connections between breath and health, and his new book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art has been met with both enthusiasm and skepticism from the sleep medicine community.

Takeaway: Dear Santa, I will leave my stocking outside to maintain social distance if that's what it takes to get this book for Christmas. 


‘Already in short supply’: How climate change could chip away at sleep health
December 4, 2020

From the article: “To objectively study sleep duration, Minor and his colleagues collaborated with Obradovich to assess 7.4 million nighttime sleep records from nearly 47,000 fitness band users in 68 countries. They compared those records to local meteorological data. …the researchers reported seven to 11 minutes of nightly sleep loss between 2015 and 2017 when temperatures exceeded 77 degrees. They found that not only did it take people longer to fall asleep on unusually warm nights, but that they also woke up slightly earlier than normal.

Takeaway: Alongside ambient temperature, other climate-related sleep issues include light, air, and noise pollution.


This new company is on a mission to dominate the $80BN sleep industry
November 30, 2020

From the press release: “Minute Sleep Club is a new Sarasota, Florida based organization taking aim at the $80bn sleep industry. With a full line of sleep aides ranging from white noise machines to blue light glasses, they hope to become the first household name in the world of sleep. 'I started Minute Sleep Club after drastically changing the way I sleep,' said Ethan Petroka, Founder of Minute Sleep Club.

Takeaway: Products at their online shop include blackout curtains, sleep fragrances, gravity blankets, white noise machines, supplements, aromatherapy, and blue light glasses. 


Movon Corporation launches a real-time drowsy driving prevention device with the driver ID analysis feature
December 7, 2020

From the article: “The device catches driver’s distraction, drowsiness, yawning, phone use, smoking, etc. Through real-time monitoring, it induces safe driving through alarm sound and vibration (optional). This product is differentiated from competitors in that it shows excellent performance even in situations where light is limited, such as at night, tunnel, underground, etc. thanks to the IR mounting and in that all functions operate without problems even when a driver is wearing a mask.

Takeaway: That last feature is particularly relevant, it seems. 


FDA Approves HETLIOZ for Sleep Disturbances in Smith-Magenis Syndrome
November 24, 2020

From the article: “The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc’s HETLIOZ (tasimelteon) capsule and liquid formulations for the treatment of adults and children with nighttime sleep disturbances associated with Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS). Smith-Magenis Syndrome is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder, a defining feature of which is an 'inverted' circadian rhythm, making it extremely difficult for patients with SMS to sleep during the night. HETLIOZ is the first FDA-approved medication for patients with SMS.

Takeaway: I knew nothing about SMS until now. Here's a good summary of the condition from the National Organization for Rare Disorders:

"The sleep disturbance that occurs in affected individuals is a chronic lifelong problem. In addition to sleep issues during infancy (generalized lethargy & 'too sleepy'), affected individuals develop significant sleep disturbances from early childhood that continue into adolescence and adulthood. The sleep cycle is characterized by problems that can include difficulty falling asleep, shortened sleep cycles, an inability to enter REM sleep and frequently awakening during the night and early in the morning (5:30-6:30AM). In general, the hours of sleep are less than expected for age. As a consequence of the disrupted nighttime sleep cycle affected individuals may exhibit periods of drowsiness during the day, known as excessive daytime sleepiness or sleep debt, which remains a chronic issue. The sleep abnormalities are associated with an inverted circadian rhythm of melatonin, reported in over 90% of studied cases. A circadian rhythm sleep disorder occurs when a person’s biological clocks fails to synchronize to a normal 24-hour day. Specifically, melatonin, a normal occurring hormone, rises and falls; it rises, peaking at night and causes drowsiness. Melatonin levels lessen in the morning, reaching their lowest levels during the middle of the day. In individuals with an inverted circadian rhythm, the rising and falling of melatonin levels is reversed (daytime highs).


82% of AFib patients have undiagnosed sleep apnea, highlighting the importance of screening
December 3, 2020

From the article: “Overall, 82.4% of patients referred for ablation were diagnosed with sleep apnea through a test that can be taken at home. Of those patients, 82% had a predominant obstructive component. Sleep apnea severity was mild for 43.8% of patients, moderate for 32.9% and severe for 23.2%.

Takeaway: Though it's a perennially important topic, sleep apnea's association with heart disease is trending again. More and better screening among potential patients through cardiovascular clinics can help catch some of those still not diagnosed.


Should you let your pets sleep in your bed? The pros and cons
December 5, 2020

From the article: “We all need more sleep these days, and sometimes getting good quality sleep feels impossible. Just like kids or babies, it's no secret that pets can wake you up at night and disturb you. Whether you already have pets or are considering getting one in the future, you might be curious about what's the healthiest sleeping arrangement for you and your pets.

Takeaway: Good talking points here in the event you suspect your patient might sleep poorly because they co-sleep with a pet.


The government can now deport foreign people who become homeless
December 4, 2020

From the website: “The [UK] government now has the power to deport foreign people who have slept rough, under controversial new rules that came into force on December 1st. …Amnesty International has called the change 'shockingly cruel and inhumane.'

Takeaway: Sleep rough is another way to describe people who are homeless and sleep outside for lack of a safe shelter. 

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 chronic illness patient advocacy publishers, and produces the Journal Club continued education presentations for the AAST. You might occasionally see her work in A2Zzz as well. She can be reached at sleepyheadcentral@gmail.com.