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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman on April 3rd, 2018

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: April 3, 2018

Sleep Technologist Advice

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


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



How 'Bad Medicine' Dismisses And Misdiagnoses Women's Symptoms
March 27, 2018

From the article: “[Author Maya] Dusenbery's new book, Doing Harm, makes the case that women's symptoms are often dismissed and misdiagnosed—in part because of what she calls the 'systemic and unconscious bias that's rooted ... in what doctors, regardless of their own gender, are learning in medical schools.'”

Takeaway:  If, as a sleep tech, you are interested in equal standards of care for both men and women, you may want to read this book and consider the ways you might be perpetuating some of the biases she describes, even if unintentionally. Remember, most medical knowledge and clinical research has long been skewed toward knowledge of men's bodies and not the special circumstances that make caring for women (menstruation, fertility, pregnancy, menopause) radically different. 


Moving light-dark exposure could reduce disruption faced by night shift workers
March 27, 2018 

From the website: “New research published in The Journal of Physiology shows that our brain clock can be shifted by light exposure, potentially to align it with night shift patterns. It highlights that a 'one size fits all' approach to managing sleep disruption in shift workers may not be appropriate.

Takeaway: Potential strategies for nightwalkers (and not just sleep techs!) which could help reduce health problem risks in the long term.


Screening for idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder: usefulness of actigraphy
March 15, 2018

From the abstract: “Seventy patients diagnosed with sleep disorders causing different motor manifestations during sleep (iRBD, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome) and 20 subjects without any relevant motor manifestation during sleep, underwent video-polysomnography (vPSG) and two-week actigraphy, completed six validated RBD screening questionnaires, and sleep apps use was assessed.

Takeaway: The idea here is to help distinguish between RBD and other movement disorders of sleep in a way that is inexpensive and mostly reliable (like HSATs are used for identifying those with sleep apnea in the general population).



There's a new disorder called 'orthosomnia' affecting people who obsess about their sleep — and it can be caused by tracking apps
March 29, 2018

From the article: “'Orthosomnia' is when people obsess over what their sleep tracking apps tell them, and it can lead to even worse sleep as a result.”

Takeaway: A side effect of raised awareness could mean a lot of sleep disordered patients might be adding more to their worries while trying to be vigilant and conscientious. As techs, we can use our time with them in the lab to explain these tools and measurements so they can be less worried about numbers they may not completely understand.


This Tiny Sleep Device Is My Secret to Adjusting to New Time Zones
March 21, 2018

From the article: “Simply place the device on your nightstand and touch the surface. A soft blue light will appear, waxing and waning, on your ceiling. Focus on breathing in as it grows, and out as disappears. It will continue on loop for eight or 20 minutes, depending on your preference (tap twice to set it to 20). When the cycle is over, it will shut off on its own.

Takeaway: For the time-strapped sleep tech, this could be a really useful tool when handling multiple patients and one is in need of immediate attention while another is struggling to fall asleep due to first-night effect. 


10 Side Effects of Ambien That Are Actually Pretty Terrifying
March 28, 2018

From the article: “Zolpidem products (like Ambien) were the most commonly misused subtype of prescription sedatives in 2015, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Of the 1.5 million people who admitted to misusing prescription sedatives, 1.1 million misused zolpidem products.” 

Takeaway: It's probably not a bad idea to check up on patients with a known history for using Ambien if they should end up in your clinic, if only to remind them of the side effects and the reality that zolpidem products aren't meant to be taken nightly on a continuous, long-term basis.


Watch terrified Greyhound passengers plead with their bus driver to pull over and sleep
March 23, 2018

From the commentary:  “'We saw her going like this, and just dozing off,”'Jasmine McClellan said, sinking her head and then jerking it up like a student half-sleeping in class. 'I politely asked her four times to pull over.' …As the bus sped and wobbled toward Dallas, McClellan said, politeness eventually had to go out the window.” 

Takeaway: This kind of awareness about drowsy driving among mainstream Americans is evidence that people are starting to pay attention to sleep deprivation. [Check out the video!] Uber and cab drivers, pilots, train engineers, and others are also being held more accountable for their sleepiness while operating a vehicle. It's still a big problem, but it's stories like these that suggest we've reached a cultural tipping point where people are ready to not only embrace an idea (that sleep deprivation is dangerous behind the wheel), but they are also now willing to act on it. 


If You Snooze, You (May) Lose Under the FMLA and ADA, Says the Seventh Circuit
March 22, 2018

From the article: “Guzman was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2006 and treated that condition with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. She then underwent gastric bypass surgery, lost weight, and eventually threw away her CPAP machine because she did not think she needed it anymore. It was unclear if her employer was aware of the sleep apnea diagnosis or CPAP machine treatment.

Takeaway: More and more stories are cropping up about people with sleep apnea being laid off for their condition. As lawsuits for unfair termination persist, the need for the public to better understand just what sleep apnea is, how it is treated, and why therapy compliance matters will also persist.

BIO:  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 MS-related columns for two medical publishers, and contributes as a freelance writer to AAST’s magazine, A2Zzz. She can be reached at sleepyheadcentral@gmail.com.