Investigators Determine Engineer in Fatal Train Crash Had Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea

This week, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that last year’s fatal NYC train derailment was likely caused by the engineer who fell asleep at the controls due to an undiagnosed sleep disorder.

Those of us in the sleep therapy industry are always talking about the dangers of not getting enough sleep. Besides the serious health issues that can derive from chronic fatigue, thousands of lives and billions of dollars are lost annually due to sleep apnea.

The NY commuter train was traveling at about 80 mph -- 50 miles per hour faster than the speed limit when it rounded a curve and derailed about 7 a.m. on December 1, 2013. Four people were killed and 61 were injured in the derailment. NTSB investigators learned the engineer had severe obstructive sleep apnea that had not been diagnosed. With such apnea, the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep, causing drowsiness.

In addition to selling CPAP devices, one of National Sleep Therapy’s primary missions is to help people recognize and deal with their sleep apnea. It’s an ongoing educational process that we take seriously. We are constantly reminding people who think they or someone they know may have sleep apnea to ask their doctors to arrange a sleep test. The results of that test can determine if a person may need CPAP therapy in order to get a good night’s sleep. For more information:

Photo Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Patient Survey: CPAP Users Feel Better Physically and Mentally

Results of National Sleep Therapy Poll …

Getting enough ZZZ’s can make you less grumpy, give you more self-confidence, make you more creative – and even improve your love life!

These are some of the findings of a recent survey conducted among CPAP patients by National Sleep Therapy ( Over 120 individuals with a history of sleep apnea who now use doctor-prescribed CPAP (pronounced see-pap) therapy responded to the survey which provides insights into why CPAP is so popular and why compliance with doctor’s orders is so critical.

It’s estimated that over 18 million Americans have sleep apnea and most have yet to be diagnosed. The resulting chronic fatigue can lead to a host of serious diseases, a shorter lifespan, and workplace and highway accidents. CPAP, pronounced ‘see-pap’, is an acronym for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.

The survey was devised by NST President and co-founder Eric Cohen. Respondents could check off as many benefits as they received from CPAP therapy, thus the figures add up to more than 100%. The survey shows:

- 48% are able to stay awake more during the day

- 40% drive / focus on tasks better

- 28% have a better attitude

- 28% are less grumpy

- 21% feel better overall

- 20% feel like themselves again

- 18% gained better control over hypertension

- 13% have a better memory

- 6% feel more creative

- 3% have a better love life

Several respondents noted that their migraine headaches had disappeared. Others said they no longer snore (a benefit for their partner), no longer need daytime naps, and they sleep through the night. The survey asked respondents for advice for new CPAP users. Comments included: “Don’t give up. Take the time to adjust. It’s worth the inconvenience.” “Be patient and relax. Use it faithfully.” It took me quite awhile to completely get used to wearing it, but now I wouldn't want to miss it because of my improved quality of life.

CPAP therapy is the ‘gold standard’ treatment of choice for people with sleep apnea. The therapy involves a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth with a device that gently blows air to keep the airway open during sleep. A sleep study can help diagnose apnea. Positive outcomes result when patients adhere to doctor’s recommendations and proper use of equipment. Many insurers require compliance in order to continue coverage.

National Sleep Therapy has earned a reputation as an industry pioneer. The company sponsors a monthly free virtual support group -- ‘CPAP Talk Live!’ -- for people with sleep apnea and healthcare pros ( ), and offers live video support for patients.. This past year, the company made the ‘Inc. 5000’ list as ‘One of Fastest-Growing Private U.S. Companies.’ For more information: 888.867.8840 or

Technology & ‘Touchpoints’

Once again National Sleep Therapy is ahead of the curve. We’re combining 21st century technology and regular patient-provider interaction – or ‘touchpoints’ – that we have proven can dramatically raise patient compliance and help them get a good night’s sleep. The numbers tell the story. We are seeing healthier patients, improved outcomes, continued insurance coverage for CPAP equipment, and potential reduced healthcare costs. 

We know it can be difficult for people to get used to the CPAP machine and to the mask that must be worn all night. But through our ‘keys to ZZZ’s’ -- a coordinated, integrated program – we have raised compliance as high as 84%, as compared to the national average of 50%, and attained a 96.4% satisfaction rate. Pleasant dreams!

Hands-on Experience Improves CPAP Success

Anyone can say they’re different. But at National Sleep Therapy we really are head and shoulders above others in the CPAP device and therapy world.

What is different about us are the nuances of how we do what we do. A great example is how we use the iPad for patient training and ongoing support. And we don’t just say we use an iPad – we also try to capture the subtleties of why. As NST President Eric Cohen says he learned during his work as an engineer with BMW, people like things that are tactile. An iPad allows NST patients to control the pacing of their CPAP training.

Educators have shown that people retain new information better when: (1) they’re able to proceed at their own pace; (2) they learn and retain better with visuals; (3) they feel they’re in control; (4) they’re engaged and feel special; and, (5) they can hold the teaching device in their own hands.

NST’s proprietary iPad app meets all these criteria and ensures that every patient receives a consistently high level of training. The end result: Better compliance and a better night’s sleep. And that’s what National Sleep Therapy is all about. Pleasant dreams!

Don’t Drive If Sleep Deprived: NTSB’s Renewed Focus

In October, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) started a renewed focus on drowsy driving, its causes and prevention. That’s because it’s conservatively estimated that 100,000 accidents and 6,000 fatal crashes each year can be attributed to drowsy driving. Nobody knows exactly how many of these accidents involve drivers with sleep apnea.

One frightening AAA statistic: 41% of motorists report "falling asleep or nodding off" while driving at least once in their lifetime.

Drowsy driving can result in the same level of impaired driving as driving drunk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone who doesn’t sleep for 24 hours will have the fatigue impairment equivalent to blood alcohol content above the legal limit in all states.

The NTSB says even just two hours less sleep than you need in one night is enough to potentially impair your driving the next day.

Bottom line: Don’t drive if you’re sleep deprived. And don’t ride with anyone who is.

If you or someone you know is always tired, snores at night, suffers from anxiety or mood swings, they may have sleep apnea. A sleep test can tell – and can be the first step to CPAP therapy – and a good night’s sleep.

Keys to ZZZ’s: Technology & ‘Touchpoints’

In Today’s Healthcare, Great Care Is Still Possible -- with Some Technology to Help

Many durable medical equipment suppliers are still stuck in the 20th century, using faxes and phones to track progress and communicate with their CPAP patients as they try to keep them compliant with sleep therapy prescribed by their doctor.

Now, Eric Cohen, a former product engineer and designer with such top brands as BMW and Reebok, President and co-founder National Sleep Therapy /NST ( ), is proving that a combination of 21st century technology and regular patient-provider interaction – which he calls ‘touchpoints’ -- can dramatically raise patient compliance and help them get a good night’s sleep. The results? Healthier patients, improved outcomes, continued insurance coverage for CPAP equipment, and potential reduced healthcare costs.

CPAP (pronounced see-pap) is the treatment of choice by most doctors treating sleep apnea patients. The therapy involves a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth, connected to a device that gently blows air to keep the airway open during sleep. Some 18 million Americans have sleep apnea. Most have yet to be diagnosed.

Cohen says it can be difficult for CPAP patients to get used to the machine and to the mask that must be worn all night. But his ‘keys to ZZZ’s’ -- a coordinated, integrated program -- has raised compliance as high as 84%, as compared to the national average of 50%, and a attained a 96.4% satisfaction rate.

Cohen says, “Sleep therapy is a process rather than a single diagnostic and therapeutic event. We’re proving that clinical therapy works best when there’s active participation on the part of the clinician and patient. We give patients access to meaningful content and support, and everyone involved has instant access to relevant, current data. This high level of consistent education encourages self-reliance, awareness and self-sufficiency.”

Under the system, integrated ‘data sources’ are available to patients, physicians, sleep centers and the CPAP company’s clinical staff. Information sharing and transparency reduce errors and improve patient perceptions and the overall care experience. “It’s a ‘’We’re all on the same team’ approach,” Cohen says.

“We aggregate data in a master database to track patterns and trends that provide a more complete ‘picture’ of a patient,” Cohen says. “The system automatically looks for issues that may require clinical intervention. The ability to assemble more holistic data enables us create custom, relevant touchpoints for each patient.” This transparency and interaction builds connections wherein patients become engaged and involved in their own treatment. On average, NST patients experience 7 touchpoint events during the year.

“This unique program highlights our commitment to partner with patients, physicians and sleep programs to raise care quality while reducing healthcare costs,” says Cohen.

-Stanley Hurwitz

Sleep-Deprived Individuals Find Solace in Virtual Support Group

Unique Forum Attracts Participants from 8 States

A record number of participants suffering from sleep disordered breathing (sleep apnea) joined the conversation during the October edition of ‘CPAP – Talk Live!,’ a free virtual support group sponsored by National Sleep Therapy (NST).

CPAP (pronounced see-pap) is an acronym for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. CPAP therapy helps people get the periods of deep sleep the body needs to rejuvenate. Snoring is a major indicator of obstructive sleep apnea.

According to program host Eric Cohen, co-founder and President of NST( which sponsors the monthly sessions, participants dialed in from eight states including Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

The U. S. Centers for Disease Control has called insufficient sleep ‘a public health epidemic,’ with sleep insufficiency linked to highway and workplace accidents, occupational errors, a range of medical issues, a decreased quality of life – even a possible shortened lifespan. Over 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and according to the CDC, an estimated 50-70 million U. S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder.

Joining Cohen on during ‘CPAP – Talk Live!’ was Amy Michaud, territory manager for ResMed, a maker of products to treat sleep disorders, who introduced a new line of CPAP masks and answered caller questions. A highlight was when the five winners of the newest-style CPAP masks were announced.

“Because of the continued interest in more comfortable CPAP masks and the large number of participants, the lively session continued beyond our one-hour schedule,” said Cohen. “We had so many great questions and wonderful peer support. Folks gave tips about mouth breathing and how to train yourself to keep your mouth closed when using a nasal mask. The sessions provide a very supportive environment you can’t find anywhere else. We had some familiar voices and many new ones on the call.”

The CDC has found that “adults who reported sleeping less than the recommended 7–9 hours per night were more likely to have difficulty performing many daily tasks.”

‘CPAP Talk – Live!’ is held on the first Wednesday of each month and is free and open to all. The next session will be Wednesday, November 5 from 7 – 8 pm (ET). For more information: 888.867.8840 or