SLEEPtember Wrap Up & Health Disparities

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By Eugena Brooks 

The message of during the SLEEPtember events has always been to gain awareness of the importance of getting enough restorative sleep and how much sleep impacts good health. Earlier this year the world was shut down by the COVID-19 Pandemic. A situation that levels greater emphasis on the importance of maintaining good health. To that end, each installment of the SLEEPtember Speaker Series is meant to connect main concerns for the patient community. SLEEPtember this month covered GERD, Brain Function, High Blood Pressure and Diabetes all of which are comorbid issues of sleep apnea and major issues for people of color subject to health disparities as vulnerable communities.  

The host this week Adam Amdur, began the discussion by inviting Alicia Chung EdD, MPH Assistant Professor, Department of Population Health, at NYU to weigh in on the recent increase of COVID-19 spikes in certain areas of New York City. In response, Dr. Chung pointed out that while solid practices in place on the local and state levels have greatly improved positive recovery and low numbers over all in New York, the preparation for openings of day care and schools has unfortunately played a role influencing outbreaks.  

Azizi Seixas, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Population Health NYU, further elaborated that studies have shown in terms of telehealth and telemedicine that low income and racial ethnic communities are less likely to participate in telehealth options. That is not to say they are not open to telemedicine practices but that more outreach is needed to engage communities with options that are available. This is particularly important in the pandemic for these types of communities to become and remain proactive about health care. Especially with the second wave almost upon us, the impending influence of the flu season and how to deal with these combined issues.  

Kevin Bradley RN, AWAKE Educator, spoke in depth about breakouts experienced in the long term health and dialysis facilities there in Canada and the impact the coronavirus has had on organ donation and about the hardest hit communities also being people of color such as Blacks and Asians on the frontlines working jobs to keep everything moving.  

I put into perspective the day to day experience of dealing with having multiple health issues along with sleep apnea as a person of color in a COVID-19 reality. How the COVID situation has affected my ability to manage health, my neighbors and surrounding community. This has been such a difficult time and it is not yet over, but I believe it is manageable if you know what to do and willing to get it done.  

SLEEPtember Takeaways for Wrap Up Discussion are: 

  • be proactive about your health 
  • get enough sleep 
  • when going out wear a mask and social distance.  

That said, so much more was said during the series than I could write here. So, make sure you go see the video right away and all of the SLEEPtember Speaker Series