Sleep Education Consortium, Inc.
A 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for medical professionals and the general public
on sleep and sleep disorders.
It is now recognized that sleep disorders affect at least one third of the society on some level. Problems range from insomnia on an occasional basis to excessive daytime sleepiness to the point of falling asleep behind the wheel. In 1991The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research reported to Congress that over $30 billion is lost every year as a result of sleep related issues in the United States.
The field of Sleep Disorders Medicine has evolved extensively over the past twenty years, but unfortunately there is a significant lack of education and awareness amongst most health care professionals. In a study published in 1993 all 126 American Medical Schools were surveyed to determine how much time is spent teaching medical students anything on the topic of sleep: researchers found that on average only two hours are spent on the topic of sleep during the four years of medical school.
Since the time this study was published there have been some improvements in the Medical School education process; however most physicians in practice today attended medical school prior to any enhancement in sleep medicine education, and they subsequently suffer from a severe lack of understanding when it comes to properly identifying and treating patients with sleep related issues. One of the main goals of the Sleep Education Consortium is to provide continuing medical education (CME) courses for physicians that will help them identify and treat patients with the most common of sleep disturbances.
It is also now recognized that obstructive breathing during sleep, which causes snoring, is interrelated to the jaw and tongue position during sleep. Movement of the jaw can either help or hinder the breathing process. Many patients who grind and clench their teeth at night do so in an attempt to help keep the airway open and prevent obstructive respirations. Treatment devices for patients with obstructive Sleep Apnea consist of dental appliances that maintain the mandible in a forward position during sleep and help with breathing.
Educating dentists is another way to make a significant impact on sleep education within our society. If Dentists know what to look for and were motivated to make an assessment of the airway, then many patients with sleep related breathing disturbances could be diagnosed at an earlier stage and the overall negative impact of their abnormal breathing could reduced by earlier intervention. Therefore, another major goal of the Sleep Education Consortium is to educate Dentists on sleep disorders.
Public education is also clearly necessary in order to motivate the primary care physicians who have to address their patients health questions. Enhancing the education of the general public on sleep problems will also help achieve the overall goal of the Sleep Education Consortium by creating a more educated population base, which will then bring their questions and concerns to their primary care physician.
The National Sleep Foundation is directed to enhance public awareness of sleep related issues and has done a phenomenal job along these lines. Activities such as Sleep Awareness Week have help bring to light how extensive sleep related problems affect our society. Therefore, the National Sleep Foundation has been named as the organization which would receive supplementary dollars from the Sleep Education Consortium if available.