Saturday, November 15, 2014

Firefighters may Have an Elevated Risk of Sleep Disorders

Two of the leading causes of death for firefighters in the United States are heart attacks and motor vehicle crashes, both of which share independent risk factors in sleep disorders.
In a recent national sample of almost 7,000 firefighters, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined the prevalence of common sleep disorders and their association with adverse health and safety outcomes. The study found that sleep disorders are highly prevalent, and associated with substantially increased risk of motor vehicle crashes and cardio-metabolic diseases among firefighters.

Based on specific criteria, 66 US fire departments were selected to participate in a workplace based sleep disorders screening and educational program. Approximately 7,000 participants were assessed for common sleep disorders and surveyed about health and safety. Documentation was also collected for reported motor vehicle crashes. Participants reported current health status, previous diagnoses of sleep and other medical disorders, the likelihood of falling asleep while driving, motor vehicle crashes, near crashes, and injuries.

Researchers found that a total of 37.2 percent of firefighters screened positive for sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, shift work disorder and restless leg syndrome.  Firefighters with a sleep disorder were more likely to report a motor vehicle crash and were more likely to report falling asleep while driving than those who did not screen positive.  Additionally, firefighters with sleep disorders were more likely to report having cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety, and to report poorer health status, compared with those who did not screen positive.
More than 80 percent of firefighters who screened positive for a common sleep disorder were undiagnosed and untreated. 

Findings of the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, demonstrate the impact of common sleep disorders on firefighter health and safety, and their connection to the two leading causes of death among firefighters.

Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is a common problem in today's society; it is so common that in some circles people almost consider it a normal aspect of a productive society. The fact is that daytime sleepiness and fatigue are leading causes of accidents, both on the job and on the road, and the cost to society is estimated in billions of dollars per year.
There are several common causes for increased daytime sleepiness, including OSA, PLMS and RLS: these problems are all treatable, but unfortunately many physicians are still not familiar with  the diagnosis of these conditions.
If you have a problem with daytime sleepiness and have tried to increase your sleep length without improving your daytime sleepiness, then you should be evaluated by a Sleep Disorders Specialist. With proper care most people can obtain the treatment they need to improve this problem.

Further Reading:
Sleep Disorders That Raise Heart Disease And Depression Risk More Prevalent In Firefighters

Monday, November 10, 2014

Results from new Sleep Survey shows many Americans have problems falling and staying asleep.

From October 20 - 22 2014, the popular NBC television show "Today" conducted a survey among a nationally representative sample of 1,092 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, using a questionnaire focused on self-reported behavior and attitudes toward sleep. The study was fielded by Survey Sampling International, an independent research company based in Connecticut.
The study found that  61 percent of the survey participants reporting problems falling and staying asleep, and eighty percent of people who don’t get adequate sleep report experiencing more stress about finances with 74 percent becoming more worried about their health.

Among other issues, the study found that 32 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds say work makes them fret throughout the night, with 31 percent reporting that their children cause sleepless nights. Overall, 42 percent of people with a child under 18 reported inadequate sleep.

Modern electronic devices can have a serious impact on sleep quality, for multiple reasons. Physically, the blue light emitted by the screens of devices such as mobile phones and tablets mimics daylight and can interrupt our circadian rhythms; it's also known to suppress production of a brain chemical called melatonin, which helps us sleep. But more importantly, using the internet or texting before trying to sleep overstimulates the brain. Nonetheless, the survey reported that people still regularly watch TV and keep their phones at hand when they should be trying to fall asleep:
  • 51 percent of people have TV remote within reach
  • 50 percent of people have their smartphones within reach
  • 23 percent of people have a computer within reach
  • 21 percent of people have a tablet within reach
Seventy-seven percent of participants 35-49 said they watched TV right before bed, with almost two-thirds of 18-34-year-olds using their smartphones before sleep: only 1 in 5 adults claimed to sleep without any of these devices within reach.

The reported issues related to sleep problems included:
  • Overall 29 percent had difficulty concentrating; among 18 to 34-year-olds that number increased to 39 percent
  • 23 percent had difficulty performing daily chores
  • 19 percent had lost interest in hobbies or leisure activities
  • 16 percent reported falling asleep at inappropriate times during the day
  • 16 percent experienced short tempers or inappropriate behavior with children or partners, with 13 percent reporting short tempers or inappropriate behavior at work.
Healthy sleep is vital to our well-being. For more information on how you can get a better night's rest, see our sleep hygiene recommendations or contact us if you're having serious problems with sleep.

Why can't we sleep? TODAY 'Snooze or Lose' survey results may surprise you; Meghan Holohan, November 09 2014