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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman on January 3rd, 2018

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: January 3, 2018

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

sleeping polar bear 

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




Complementary Health Approaches for Seasonal Affective Disorder: What the Science Says
December 20, 2017 

From the article:Some people turn to complementary health approaches to prevent SAD, including St. John’s wort, melatonin, and vitamin D. This issue of the digest provides the summary of current research for these modalities.

Takeaway:  Sometimes it can be easy to forget that sleep health problems can have solutions that don't require a prescription for PAP therapy or Ambien. Learning the ins and outs of complementary approaches can be a great way for sleep techs to provide guidance to patients who don't simply want another pill.  


ATS Foundation Announces Unrestricted Research Grants to Improve Respiratory Health Worldwide
December 22, 2017 

From the press release:Richard J. Schwab, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and chair of the ATS Scientific Advisory Committee that is charged with selecting the best grant proposals, said, 'This year we were singularly impressed by the high quality and innovative proposals that were submitted to the ATS Foundation. In particular it was exciting to be able to award such a large number of unrestricted grants to support early career investigators in Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep.'

Takeaway:  The three OSA-related unrestricted grants go to researchers at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of California-San Diego and Wayne State University. 


Self-reported drowsiness and safety outcomes while driving after an extended duration work shift in trainee physicians
December 22, 2017

From the study abstract: “Extended duration (≥24 h) work shifts (EDWS) are associated with increased risk of motor vehicle crashes, and awareness of any impairment has important implications on legal accountability for any adverse driving outcome. The extent to which adverse driving events were preceded by pre-drive self -reported sleepiness was evaluated in medical residents after EDWS.

Takeaway: It was a small study but it's refreshing to see medical residents in the crosshairs. It may be easy to target truck drivers for drowsy driving, but they aren't the only people working ridiculous shifts. 


Informal caregiving linked to sleep problems
January 1, 2018

From the article: For people who are in the workforce already, the added burden of unpaid caregiving for a family member or loved one may lead to insomnia and other sleep issues, according to a large study from Sweden. …Researchers found that the likelihood of sleep problems rose with the number of hours spent in unpaid caregiving, and when caregiving stopped, sleep disturbances were reduced.”

Takeaway: We're talking about nonemployed family members here, mostly: adult children, nieces or nephews who are asked to watch over a senior family member's healthcare needs to save money and provide 24-hour care. If you're not part of the Sandwich Generation, it's likely you will be, but finding a solution that works for everyone involved continues to evade society.


With wrist-worn gadget, researchers capture real-life sleep for the first time
December 28, 2017 

From the article: “To measure a person's sleep, researchers have always relied on costly and time-consuming approaches that could only be used in a sleep lab. But now researchers reporting in Current Biology on December 28 have found a way to capture detailed information on human sleep cycles over long periods of time while individuals slumber at home in their usual way. According to the researchers, the findings represent a major breakthrough in sleep research because, for the first time, it will now be possible to objectively capture the real-life sleep habits and sleep quality of large numbers of people.

Takeaway: A chilling portrait of the RPSGT's future, or business as usual? Talk amongst yourselves. 


Melatonin may help improve bone density
December 30, 2017

From the article: A hormone often associated with sleep, melatonin, may have an important role in maintaining and improving bone density in menopausal women. A number of medical studies have shown that melatonin can increase the activity of bone-building cells called osteoblasts as well as the actual thickness of the bone itself.

Takeaway: Melatonin continues to be appliced for many more purposes than just sleep initiation. It might be useful to ask patients what their melatonin usage is intended for, as it might highlight a health concern that could be shaping their sleep health without directly relating to sleep itself. 


Resolve to take care of yourself in 2018
January 1, 2018

From the blog: “As a nurse, your role is to take care of others and do it well. You work to heal not only patients’ bodies, but also their minds and spirits. But what about caring for your own body, mind and spirit? How much time do you devote to that?” 

Takeaway:  Good advice and an approach that's good for all of us.


On-time performance goals blinded Metro-North to troubles ahead
December 28, 2017

From the article (second in a series): “In the Spuyten Duyvil derailment that killed Lovell, engineer William Rockefeller had fallen asleep at the controls of a train going 82 mph along a curve marked for 30 mph.

Takeaway: 2018 is going to be a year of close examinations where transportation and sleep health intersect. This promises to be the public safety story of the year, as it affects not only train engineers, but Navy sailors, red-eye pilots, truckers, tour bus drivers, even EMTs behind the wheels of ambulances. 

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.