We hope you enjoyed our Bedhead Morning Selfie Challenge this month!
It was our goal to have fun with the idea of bedheads and selfies while raising awareness about sleep health
The American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) launched the Sleeptember campaign to use the power of social media as a force for community, support, advocacy, and fundraising.
These efforts have accomplished a number of things. Sleeptember has helped to:
More clinical observation, study, and research is needed to identify potential cures for many sleep disorders.
Of course, as our nonprofit name suggests, our most pressing concern surrounds more than just the identification of underlying and undiagnosed sleep apnea and its successful treatment. We need to prevent sleep apnea, or find a solution that cures it.
Right now, a person who is diagnosed with sleep apnea is expected to treat their condition for the rest of their life. For this reason, sleep apnea belongs to a category of healthcare concerns known as chronic illness.
Chronic illness is a condition (like diabetes or asthma or multiple sclerosis) which has no cure and which must be treated for the lifetime of the person who has it.
The ASAA would like to make sleep apnea curable. Here are a few reasons why:
Children born with certain cranial phenotypes or crowded spaces in their airways often snore or are sleepy during the day. Only recently have pediatricians started to look more closely at sleep apnea as a hidden problem. Prior to this, sleep apnea was considered only a problem for older people, but we know now that is absolutely not the case.
Many children in the last couple of decades have also been misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD because the symptoms of this behavioral disorder closely mimic the symptoms of untreated sleep apnea in children.
In addition, the rise of childhood obesity has made it more likely for children to develop sleep apnea. If caught early, there are some things that might be done to help cure it, such as oral surgery (commonly, the removal of the adenoids or tonsils is a part of that procedure, leading to a less crowded airway into adulthood).
What if there were other, better ways to do this that are less invasive? More research focused on better ways to identify, and then cure, this condition while in childhood could be a preventive medicine model that shapes better healthcare outcomes overall.
Unidentified, undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea is a huge public health and safety problem. Untreated sleep apnea is a leading cause of:
People with untreated sleep apnea make more mistakes on the job, struggle with cognitive problems and memory lapses, and are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior or make poor decisions due to the sleep deprivation and excessive daytime sleepiness, which are hallmarks of the condition.
Treatment is not the same as a cure. A cure means the condition is eliminated entirely and requires no further treatment. The reality is that those with sleep apnea have only two options: maintain treatment or ignore it. Ignoring sleep apnea is not only ill-advised, but a guarantee that you will develop other even more dangerous chronic illnesses as a result.
Currently, people with sleep apnea have the following options for treatment, all of which cost money, require an investment of personal time and energy, and need maintenance and compliance to work.
If we could cure sleep apnea, even prevent it,
wouldn’t that be a win for everyone?
Efforts to research sleep apnea are ongoing at every level. The challenges include developmental better diagnostic strategies, improving the identification of biomarkers showing higher risk for sleep apnea, and much more research on pediatric sleep apnea to understand why it happens and how we can catch it early and reverse the processes that turn it into a chronic condition.
Check out these research studies and articles to learn more about research into a cure:
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