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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH on November 10th, 2020

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: November 10, 2020

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

sleeping snowy owl

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

NOTE: While You Were Sleeping
will post on Wed Nov 18 next week


For the latest information, please check the following resources:


Snowmobiling for Narcolepsy
November 9, 2020

From the website: “Emily began snowmobile racing in 2014 alongside her husband, Joel. Snowmobile racing became a way to escape narcolepsy’s symptoms, even for a little bit. Emily and Joel raced Lakecross for six years. Then in 2020, they decided to compete in the Cor Powersports Race Series, the largest cross country racing circuit in the nation. Emily competed in her first Women’s class race and won!

Takeaway: Narcolepsy's public image just got a little bit tougher. Way to go, Emily!


STOP-BANG Misses Sleep Apnea in Black Patients
November 4, 2020

From the article: “Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by cardiovascular disease and untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) might be partially to blame. …When OSA is identified in patients from this population, it presents with greater severity of disease and often goes untreated. In new research from Howard University, scientists are trying to understand how sleep medicine providers can tackle this problem to decrease the potentially deadly health outcomes. Their recent research, published in SLEEP, suggests that a common tool in sleep medicine diagnostics, the STOP-BANG, does not have the same clinical utility in these patients as it does in other populations and that further investigation is needed to look for new diagnostic tools.

Takeaway: Here's a great place to start if we want to make meaningful change: develop and actively use screening tools that work for all of our patients.


Before Bariatric Surgery, Which Sleep Apnea Screener Is Best?—Study compared four questionnaires
November 6, 2020

From the article: “Certain sleep apnea screening tools may be preferable for screening bariatric surgery patients, a new study indicated. …In a retrospective study of 214 patients, the newer STOP-BANG and NO-OSAS sleep apnea screening tools had the higher specificity and sensitivity than other tools including No-Apnea and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) when diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea, reported Kimberly Kreitinger, MD, of the University of California San Diego.

Takeaway: Let's hope these folks have a sleep study before they go in for surgery.


I was a ‘nonadherent’ patient. That’s made me a more empathetic doctor
November 6, 2020

From the commentary: “[O]n rounds in the hospital, I have heard colleagues say, 'The patient has a history of being nonadherent to medication' in a way that is dripping with blame. On the one hand, I identify with the frustration of the physician. On the other, I can feel firsthand the sting of his words, knowing that this 'history of being nonadherent' label applies to me. The language can change, but the stigma stays the same.

Takeaway: A great reminder from Scottish author Ian McLaren: “Let us be kind, one to another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.”


Meet Lune: A Sleep Apnea Assistive Device
November 4, 2020

From the review: “Inspired by the male frog’s mate calling technique, which is when the male frog lifts his head upwards in order to produce mighty ribbits, Lune incorporates an integrated airbag into the sleeping assistive device in order to maintain an upright position for their head, which in turn promotes steady, open airflow.

Takeaway: What will they think of next? 


Boy who said he developed narcolepsy after swine flu vaccine settles court case
November 4, 2020

From the article: “A 16 -year-old boy who claimed he developed a rare sleep disorder after getting a swine flu vaccine has settled his High Court action. …The ground breaking settlement for Benjamin Blackwell, made without admission of liability, could pave the way for the resolution of 80 cases over the Pandemrix vaccine listed before the High Court.

Takeaway: Some closure here is nice, but maybe the unspoken value in this news points to a necessary heightened awareness of vaccine side effects, given the world's need for another kind of vaccine. 


How Quantity, Content, & Context of Social Media Use May Affect Adolescents’ Sleep
November 4, 2020

From the article: “A new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that checking social media often, viewing emotional or violent videos, and starting to use social media at an early age were significantly related to later bedtimes and fewer hours of sleep on school nights for early adolescents. Parental rules restricting mobile phone and online use before bed and obtaining a smartphone at a later age were associated with increased sleep duration and earlier bedtimes. …'We need to move beyond the sole focus on the amount of time adolescents spend on technologies before bed,' says the study’s lead author Linda Charmaraman, PhD, director of the Youth, Media and Wellbeing Research Lab at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), in a release. 'Understanding the bedtime habits and online content that negatively affect sleep helps us design more effective interventions for parents and practitioners to encourage healthier social technology use. This study is a first step in that direction.'

Takeaway: It should not be surprising to learn that bedtime technology use habits have never just been about the quantity of time spent. 


American imprisoned in Russia complains of sleep deprivation
November 5, 2020

From the article: “David Whelan said his brother, Paul, complained that he was being woken up at approximately 2-hour intervals every night over the past few weeks. The practice apparently began because someone in the Russian system deemed Paul Whelan a flight risk, his brother said.

Takeaway:  Some would still assert that sleep deprivation is not a form of torture, but rather a kind of tactic to get someone to share information. Here's a great paper on sleep deprivation as torture, in case you want to know how to distinguish the two. 

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.