Sleep medicine is a relatively new field within medicine, with a growing knowledge base. Recent books such as Matthew Walker’s ‘Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams’ has brought sleep into the mainstream conversation, while increasing sleep research has highlighted its underappreciated impact on our overall health and well-being. It is sobering to consider that just a few decades ago, sleep was thought of as a passive process with little impact aside from feeling tired after a poor night of sleep.
We now know better, yet we seem to make the evaluation of sleep a healthcare obstacle course – from awareness to assessment, and from testing to treatment – with multiple providers, opaque rules and unexpected costs involved. This process is so erroneous that the trucking lobby overturned a DoT mandate for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) testing despite a strong association between undiagnosed OSA and motor vehicle accidents. With only 5 million out of an estimated 25 million people diagnosed with OSA here in the US, the convoluted journey to better sleep health has led to a massive problem of underdiagnosis and resistance to treatment.