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Sleep is ‘secret sauce,’ says AASM president

Sleep is ‘secret sauce,’ says AASM president

DARIEN, Ill. – The health care industry is headed in “the right direction” when it comes to recognizing the importance of sleep to good health, says Dr. Jennifer Martin, the new president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 

“When I started my career more than 20 years ago, I remember people telling me it’s just not that important,” she said. “I don’t hear that a lot anymore. Now I get a lot of questions about what people might do to improve their sleep. I feel like the medical community, in general, has started to recognize how important it is.” 

Here’s what else Martin had to say on a recent episode of the HME News in 10 podcast: 

The priorities 

While awareness of the role that sleep plays in good health has increased among both health care providers and the general public, it’s important to keep pressing that message, says Martin. 

“It does affect other medical conditions that we think of as important and serious – things like heart disease risk, mental health issues, and in kids good sleep is how they learn,” she said. “We also need to work with payers to make sure the best treatments we have to offer patients with sleep disorders are covered by insurance plans.” 

The recall 

Martin says a big lesson for the medical community from the CPAP recall is how well patients benefit from CPAP therapy but, at the same time, how there might be times when other treatment options are a better fit. 

“We have the ability with CPAP to track how much people are using it and how effective it is in the moment, night-to-night,” she said. “What we are seeing with the recall is there are a number of patients who are benefitting from CPAP who felt like the best course of action was to not use (a recalled device). Because CPAP is so effective in almost everyone who uses it, maybe we haven’t been having a big picture conversation with some patients that now we are having a little more often.” 

The future 

While consumer devices like sleep trackers are useful in encouraging users to ask questions about the quality of their sleep, Martin would like to see more innovation in core devices like CPAP, she says. 

“I’d like to see innovations that increase patient usability, and address some of the challenges, for example, for people with physical limitations who might have a hard time using medical devices in general,” she said. “I know there are a lot of really smart people out there working on technologies now that could revolutionize a lot of the things we do in sleep medicine, including new treatment approaches and diagnostics as well.”

To listen to the podcast, go here.


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