October 03, 2014

The End of Sleep Medicine (Part 1)

"Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated" - Mark Twain
I believe the field of Sleep Medicine about to enter a golden age. 

There is a convergence of several occurrences that leads me to that.

First, people spend a lot time talking about their sleep, mostly how they don't get enough of it. The technology (i.e. smartphones) has now advanced to the point it can provide the tools for people to not only measure, relatively accurately, how much sleep they are getting but help improve the quality of their sleep.

Witness the success of the Kickstarter campaign that raised $1,000,000 in four days for the "Sense" device (http://www.theverge.com/2014/7/23/5927613/sense-sleep-tracker-is-a-glowing-sphere-that-watches-over-you-while-you-sleep) A device that takes all those sleep apps for the smartphone one-step better. Even the Positive Airway Pressure device manufacturer ResMed is getting involved with their introduction of the S+ device to monitor and improve sleep (https://www.keepyoursleep.com/#home) independent of treating sleep-disordered breathing.
Further evidence that many people are actively using sleep monitoring technology comes from Jawbone. Two recent news releases from them provide, what I believe to be the first publication using "big data" on sleep. The Jawbone Blog published the results of an analysis of sleeping patterns of tens of thousands of Jawbone wearers - worldwide. (https://jawbone.com/blog/jawbone-up-data-by-city/) They were able to discern which city's the most sleep, the least sleep and other characteristics. The second blog post from Jawbone was published after the earthquake in Napa California. (https://jawbone.com/blog/napa-earthquake-effect-on-sleep/) The graph shows the disruption in sleep depending on how close they were to Napa.
The second occurrence that leads me to believe that we are entering the golden age of sleep medicine is the amount of published research in the field. A recent search of the National Library of Medicine (www.pubmed.gov) on the terms "sleep disorders" and research resulted in more than 9600 entries, with the earliest being 1963. The pace of published research is accelerating with a doubling of the number of published items in just the last 10 years.
People everywhere are interested in sleep, improving it as much as possible through appropriate monitoring technology. The amount of research related to sleep is increasing at an exponential rate. 

Far from the demise, those involved in Sleep Medicine have much to do in terms of helping the public better understand the data from their smartphones and to build on the research currently underway to comprehend the mysterious, little-understood third of our lives.

The future is rich with possibilities.

Finally, improving sleep by diagnosing and effectively treating what may well the most common chronic sleep disorder, sleep apnea, has reached out beyond a limited number of specialists, primarily pulmonologists to other medical professionals (primary care physicians, cardiologists and dentists). The number of diagnostic modalities has increased as have the number of treatment options. 

It is this change, that I will discuss in part two of the end of sleep medicine.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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