03 October 2014

Sleep Awareness Events in October (updated)

October 6 through 10 is Sleep Apnea Awareness Week

The American Sleep Association is campaigning to educate the public about the ongoing risks of living with untreated sleep apnea. Complications include increased risks for motor vehicle accidents, heart attacks, risk of stroke or deadly heart rhythms, decreased physical and/or mental performance, and more difficulty managing diabetes and hypertension. Want to learn more about managing sleep apnea and using PAP equipment? Check out your local chapter of A.W.A.K.E., sponsored by the American Sleep Apnea Association.

October 6 through 10 is Sleep Technologist Appreciation Week

Sleep technologists are those nightwalkers who hook up overnight sleep study patients and record their study data over a 12-hour period, which is then reviewed and filed as a report for the sleep doctor to interpret. They are also a critical educational resource for those suffering from sleep apnea as they are typically the first people to introduce PAP and/or supplementary O2 to patients with severe sleep breathing problems.

October 19 through 25 is National Respiratory Care Week

Respiratory disorders constitute a major challenge in the field of sleep medicine. Professionals in respiratory care (including nurses, respiratory therapists and sleep technologists) who serve the needs of respiratory patients (people with COPD, asthma, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular diseases which impact breathing) also work in tandem with pre- and post-operative teams to ensure patients have unobstructed breathing and ample blood oxygen saturation during invasive surgical procedures.

October 21: Awake, Alert, Alive: Overcoming the Dangers of Drowsy Driving

This public forum will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Conference Center in Washington, D.C. Presenters will review risk factors associated with drowsy driving and address the challenges of driving drowsy among the general population of noncommercial drivers. This event is sponsored by the NTSB and is free and open to the public, with no preregistration is required.

October is SIDS Awareness Month

Part of the impulse of new parents staring at their slumbering infants is not only to adore their new family member but to make sure they are breathing while asleep. Perhaps one of the greatest fears of new parents is losing their newborn child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

According to reports from the CDC, nearly 4,000 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the US, half of them from SIDS. SIDS is the leading cause of infant death for children between one and twelve months of age.

It is difficult to differentiate SIDS from other Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID); autopsy alone cannot explain these losses without also putting the entire family through an investigative review. What are the differences, then, between the two?

SIDS is defined as "the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history."

SUID  may be the final determination of death if it arises as an "Ill Defined and Unknown Cause of Mortality;" that is, it could be "the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained as a thorough investigation was not conducted and cause of death could not be determined."

SUID could also be explained by Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed (ASSB), considered the leading cause of infant injury death. ASSB can be caused by obstructions to the infant's airway while asleep in the form of soft bedding (including pillows and waterbed mattresses); overlay (in which another person's body rolls on or over the body of the infant); wedging or entrapment between two objects (such as a mattress and wall, bed frame or furniture); or strangulation, in the event an infant's head and neck are trapped between crib railings.

The causes behind ASSB are clearly outlined, and SUID serves as the diagnosis when SIDS criteria are not met due to missing information about the loss of the child. In the case of SIDS, however, even when criteria are met, the condition and its causes still baffle researchers and healthcare professionals.

One main effort being made to prevent SIDS is the Safe to Sleep® Public Education Campaign (you may recognize its original campaign name, Back to Sleep®, which launched back in 1994), in which parents are instructed to place their newborns on their backs to sleep and keep crib clutter to a minimum. 

More info: 
Centers for Disease Control SIDS page
Safe to Sleep® Public Education Campaign
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development