Disasters and Tragedies Associated with Sleep

As you know, it is important to treat sleep apnea before the condition worsens. To further emphasize the need for proper care of sleep apnea, I wanted to share some disasters and tragedies that have been associated with sleep. By understanding these disasters, we can continue to show just how important treatment of sleep apnea is. Let’s take a look at a few:

Exxon Valdez 1989

In 1989 a horrific accident occurred in Alaska, killing wildlife and spilling 258,000 barrels of crude oil in the process–this was Exxon Valdez. Third mate, Gregory Cousins, was allegedly sleeping at the helm. As a result, Cousins was unable to turn the boat back into the shipping lanes in time to avoid the disaster. The crew had just put in a 22-hour shift loading the oil onto the ship and Cousins reportedly had only taken a “catnap” in the last 16 hours leading up to the crash. Could this have been prevented? Absolutely.

Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

This nuclear disaster is very well known, but did you know it might have been prevented if sleep was carefully watched? When the nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded, it created what some describe as the world’s worst nuclear disaster. The engineers involved in the incident had been working for 13 hours or more. Two plant workers died that night and nearly 240 people were originally diagnosed with radiation poisoning, and 134 actually confirmed later.

NASA Challenger

Another tragedy is the NASA Challenger space shuttle explosion. The shuttle exploded only seconds after its January 1986 launch, which killed all crew members. According to a report in 1988, certain managers involved in the launch had only slept two hours before getting to work at 1 a.m. In a report in 1986, the Presidential Commission stated, “The willingness of NASA employees in general to work excessive hours, while admirable, raises serious questions when it jeopardizes job performance, particularly when critical management decisions are at stake.” Wow, to think that maybe this would have been prevented if sleep was taken care of is scary to think.
While this is only three instances, there are so many more to there that have occurred. We need to educate our patients so they can take further precautions in protecting not only their health, but the wellbeing of those around them.

Reggie White and Sleep Apnea

I want to take a moment to discuss Reggie White, who was a professional football player for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers. As you may already know, just weeks after his 43rd birthday, Reggie White unexpectedly died. In the news reports, the potential danger of obstructive sleep apnea and related breathing disorders was highlighted.

While Reggie White was diagnosed as apnetic, he was CPAP non-compliant. As a result, he did not complete treatment because he was unaware there was another option available–oral appliances. His wife said that if Reggie White had known about oral appliance therapy, he would have worn it.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

As you know, OSA affects about 2% to 4% of the U.S. population, and is associated with:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Hypertension
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Arrhythmias

Characterized by brief periods of interrupted breathing during sleep, OSA typically lasts 10 to 30 seconds, recurring at a rate of 400 times a night (WOW!).

Sleep Apnea and Reggie White

Reggie White might have been one of those individuals who experienced a cardiac arrhythmia leading to his sudden death in his sleep. When someone has untreated sleep apnea, they are at a significant risk of developing one of the many complications of sleep apnea. While CPAP was prescribed for Reggie White, he did not wear it because at least 50% of individuals with CPAP fail to wear the device for a variety of reasons. While Reggie was prescribed it, he was not CPAP compliant and did not know of any other option.
For this reason, we need to continue to educate our patients so they know there are other alternatives. No one has to die prematurely–there’s a treatment option out there for them.

Proper Implementation of Social Media in Dentistry

Do you have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or another social media channel? Are you actively utilizing your platform? If you have answered no to either, or both, it is time to get your office in gear with social networking–and I don’t mean just sharing GIFs. An active social network allows you to reach your patients and even medical professionals with important information any time of the day. Whether you are sharing blog posts or office information, it is important to maintain your social presence in order to remain the go-to place for your patients.

Start Posting Now

If you haven’t posted anything on your social media channels in a while, now is the time to get that going. And, with your posts, be sure to pay attention to when you are posting. While the first couple times might be trial and error, you will soon figure out the times your patients are active on social media by the interaction on each post–pay attention to that. Try in the morning because most people tend to check their social media upon waking in the morning. Another good time is either at lunch or after work.

Share Better Not More

What are you sharing? Can your patients relate? Are you posting non-stop? If you are posting several times day everyday–STOP. The more often you post, the more patients might “unlike” or “unfollow” your page if they can’t relate. Stick to a couple times a week, once a day, and make sure to post interesting information they will want to read and share.

You can help educate your patients by doing the following:

  • Answering questions
  • Providing resources
  • Sharing images
  • Giving tips

Let your patients know that you are available and are listening. Contact my office if you have any further questions about how to better utilize social media, or contact Sara Berg (she helps me manage my social channels).