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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman on July 31st, 2018

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: July 31, 2018

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

sleeping snake

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



Obstructive Sleep Apnea is Largely Untreated in HIV Patients
July 27, 2018 

From the website: “Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), characterized by the repetitive collapse of the upper airway during sleep, results in transient hypoxemia and sleep disturbances. Additionally, OSA can contribute to greater health complications if left untreated. In people living with HIV (PLWH), OSA may be a common issue that is largely undiagnosed, further complicating the patient’s clinical course, according to a paper in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Takeaway: As a person with chronic illness myself, I can attest to the misguided notion that if you have one major health condition, it can be held to account for all your symptoms. Nope; people can and do have multiple chronic medical problems all the time, but whether they get treatment for all of them depends a great deal on patients being informed and empowered enough to seek answers. As sleep techs, we can certainly join the ranks of HIV advocates to help extend understanding of sleep problems as they relate to, or exist in tandem with, chronic illness.


Weekly Sleep Trajectories and their Associations with Obesity and Hypertension in the Hispanic/Latino Population
July 25, 2018 

From the abstract: “A total of 2043 participants (mean age 46.9, 65.5% female) completed at least 7 days of actigraphy aged 18-64 from the Sueño ancillary study of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL). Weekly sleep trajectories for three daily level measures (wake after sleep onset [WASO], daytime napping duration, intranight instability index) were identified using latent class growth models. The outcomes were obesity and hypertension.

Takeaway: If you clinic routinely sees this population, then some of this may not be news to you. However, having some research to back up these findings is useful for those techs who take their roles as sleep educators seriously. This also suggests a growing need for translators (either supplied by the clinic or by the patient) to discuss these issues in the event techs don't speak Spanish.


Should You Get a Tracheotomy for Sleep Apnea? [Podcast 52]
July 30, 2018

From the podcast show notes: “In this episode, Kathy and I will discuss a simple surgical option that is almost never offered to sleep apnea patients, despite an almost 100% cure rate.

Takeaway: Dr. Park makes some relevant points here. It's true, patients are unlikely to be given this option (have you ever suggested it as a possible option to your patients?). But for those with severe OSA, who have failed every effort at noninvasive ventilation, it could be a worthwhile consideration.


New Yorkers are paying $700 to sleep in a tent
July 30, 2018

From the feature: “The Summit tent, which starts at $400 per night, but can net $700 per night or more on weekends, is less a tent than it is a perfect, ridiculously over-the-top alpine cabin with canvas walls. …It’s outfitted to accommodate two adults and two children. Instead of mummy bags, there are two full-size beds outfitted with 1,500-thread-count sheets. The attached private bathroom(!) has hot water, plush towels, a rainfall shower head and 'fresh air'-scented bath products.”

Takeaway: Further proof that people will just about anything to get better sleep. (For those of us who cannot afford these niceties, a pup tent at a local campground can still provide the same circadian benefit.)


A tax on medical devices makes no sense. It’s time to eliminate it for good
July 23, 2018

From the editorial: “The device tax is an excise tax. These are often applied to products associated with specific behaviors, like alcohol or tobacco. In such cases, the government wants to discourage the use of the associated product to improve public health. In contrast, the device tax applies to products such as stents, artificial joints, insulin pumps and other products designed to improve health. …The medical device tax is particularly bad for patients, as it acts as a headwind against innovation, leaving companies with fewer resources to reinvest in hiring, research and development, and manufacturing. Companies can defray the tax by passing it onto hospitals and consumers, but this makes them less competitive and boosts costs in America’s already expensive health care system.

Takeaway: As if patients using CPAP already have enough complaints about out-of-pocket expenses


Bioprojet, Endo Enter Agreement for Paladin Labs to Commercialize Pitolisant in Canada
July 26, 2018

From the article: “Pitolisant is a selective histamine H3-receptor antagonist/inverse agonist that enhances the activity of histaminergic neurons. The drug is approved in the European Union (EU) for the treatment of narcolepsy in adult patients with or without cataplexy and is distributed under the tradename WAKIX but is not approved in Canada (or in the United States).” 

Takeaway: It's just a matter of time before this medication makes its way to the US for FDA approval. Stay tuned.


Veterans with Sleep Disorders: Finding a Preferred Provider
July 26, 2018

From the blog:  “Sleep disorders are more common among returning veterans than they are in the general public. One study found that approximately 54% of military personnel that have served since September 11, 2001 have reported experiencing insomnia, compared to 22% reported by civilians. …There are a number of contributing factors which makes reports of insomnia and other sleep disorders more prevalent among veterans than civilians such as:

  • Stress of deployment and combat
  • Irregular work shift schedules both during deployment and at home
  • Difficulty adjusting to civilian life once back home
  • Service related injuries & illnesses including traumatic brain injury
  • Symptoms of PTSD” 
Takeaway: If both vets and their loved ones were more aware of the steep odds of sleep disorders among returning troops, they might be more proactive about getting help. The "choice card" described in this post exists specifically to help bridge the gap between those who suffer and those who can offer them diagnoses and treatment for their sleep problems.


Criminal prosecution for violating HIPAA: an emerging threat to health care professionals
July 2, 2018

From the article: “These actions reflect the growing trend of federal agencies leveraging HIPAA’s criminal penalties to obtain guilty pleas and successful prosecutions of providers who are supposed to abide by the law. These incidents also reflect the federal government’s willingness to prosecute HIPAA violations at every corporate level — nonsupervisory employees, management, and corporations themselves — a trend we expect to continue.

Takeaway: Know your HIPAA regulations!  

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.