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Blog Feature

By: Tamara Sellman on March 6th, 2018

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This Week in Sleep Medicine: March 6, 2018

Sleep Technologist Advice

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

sleeping otter 

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



The Dangers of Drowsy Driving: Laws, Policies, and Education
March 2, 2018

From the blog: “According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of Americans claim to have driven while feeling sleepy and 37% admitted to falling asleep at the wheel in the past year. …Drowsy driving in many states is being cited in the same class as intoxicated driving. Both types of drivers exhibit similar impaired cognitive functions whether under the influence of alcohol, or driving after being awake for more than 24 hours. The article, 'Drowsy Driving: Asleep At the Wheel' states that, 'after about 24 hours awake, impairment is equivalent to a BAC of 0.10%, higher than the legal limit in all states.' The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of injury crashes involve drowsy driving. Although it is believed the estimates may be a bit conservative and that up to 5-6 thousand fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy driving.”

Takeaway:  Here's a great collection of drowsy driving statistics and information useful for any sleep tech who may be interested in advocating awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving.


Sleep apnea and hospital readmissions: CPAP adherence matters
February 23, 2018 

From the article: “A new study of patients with obstructive sleep apnea suggests that non-adherence to continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP, is tightly linked with an increase in 30-day hospital readmissions. …The authors reiterated that 30-day readmissions are touted as the key quality indicator for hospitals and a way to reduce healthcare costs.

Takeaway:  The AAST's recent blog from Kristina Weaver regarding Sleep Navigators shines more light on this subject.


Private Payers: Guideline Scorecards
February 18, 2018

From the website: “In light of the paradigm shift from in-center polysomnography and titration to HSAT and APAP, the AASM has been reaching out to private payers to ensure that the board-certified sleep medicine physician (BCSMP) is involved in the testing and management of patients. The AASM firmly believes that patients managed by the BCSMP receive high-quality care.

Takeaway: This effort could help keep sleep diagnostics and services corralled in actual sleep medicine clinics and centers instead of by way of third parties.


The New Roseanne Trailer Has Familiar Faces, Familiar Places, and a Horrifying Sleep Apnea Mask
March 5, 2018

From the article: “It turns out sleep apnea has struck the patriarch of the Conner family in the years since the show last aired on ABC in 1997. Which is not great, but technically a step in the right direction, given that Goodman’s character died from a heart attack in the series finale..

Takeaway: You may be noticing more use of CPAP showing up in popular culture these days. I've personally seen discussions on Top Chef involving cheftestants who use CPAP; Billy Bob Thornton's character in Goliath uses CPAP begrudgingly (but refused apnea surgery when he learned what that entailed); the bad guy in the most recent installation of the Mad Max series relied on an "evolved" kind of CPAP to stay alive, and I just read a (not-so-great) novel which incorporated CPAP into the storyline. Where have you seen CPAP cropping up in film, television, books or other areas of popular culture?


Like It Or Not, Personal Health Technology Is Getting Smarter
March 5, 2018

From the report: “'The accuracy is getting better,' [ Lukasz Piwek, a data scientist at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom] says. 'Maybe two or three years ago it was more a problematic issue.' The machine learning algorithms are getting better at picking out complex patterns from the noise, he says. …One such algorithm, according to Piwek, may be the Sleep Number's 'smart bed' technology. There are sensors embedded throughout the mattress. 

“[According to Pete Bils, Sleep Number's vice president of science and research], 'When your heart beats, your body actually presses on the mattress and we pick that up. When you breathe, your chest moves and we pick that up.'

Takeaway: It's not far-fetched to imagine a future using artificial intelligence and these kinds of sophisticated sensors to help sleep technologists do their jobs.


BRIEF—Hetlioz effective in jet lag disorder
March 5, 2018

From the report: “Vanda Pharmaceuticals says that Hetlioz (tasimelteon), a circadian regulator, has demonstrated significant and clinically meaningful benefits in night- and daytime symptoms of jet lag disorder. ” 

Takeaway: For many business travelers, this use for a drug created originally to address non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder could be a real life saver. 


Does Caffeine Really Affect Your Sleep?
March 6, 2018

Julia F. van den Berg, PhD (Leiden University, Department of Clinical Psychology):  “The popular belief that caffeine consumption in the evening generally impairs sleep quality seems to have been refuted by our work. Our study showed that only a minority of people suffer from poor sleep as a result of caffeine consumption. And for those people, this effect is present even if they do not consume caffeine after 6PM.” 

Takeaway:  Sounds like good news for coffee drinkers, but in the face of other research, can this study be replicated?


OPINION: Prior authorization procedure needs more scrutiny
March 1, 2018

Larry Downs, CEO, Medical Society of New Jersey: “California’s insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, is investigating health insurance company Aetna after learning that a former medical director for Aetna admitted under oath he never looked at patients’ records when deciding whether to approve or deny care. …The Medical Society of New Jersey has long been concerned about similar improper reviews, as well as warrantless denials of care, by insurance carriers. …Access to insurance does not equal access to care. In addition to facing a shortage of network physicians, patients are regularly denied coverage for treatments, procedures and medications, even when they see in-network physicians.

Takeaway: This is an interesting development. Putting insurance payers on notice for uninformed denials and delayed authorizations could certainly change the healthcare landscape in a way that makes it better for patients who need care and for the providers that need to give them that care.

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.