By Alexandra Molnar
Northborough – As the secretary and treasurer of the Massachusetts Sleep Society, Northborough resident Brian Murphy strives to provide sleep patients with better care and encourages overall awareness of the importance of sleep.
The goal of the Massachusetts Sleep Society is to make the standard care of patients a priority, as well as to inform the public about sleep disorders and their implications not only on the health of the individual, but on the safety and well-being of society. The organization works in conjunction with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to support scientific research and activities regarding slumber.
Murphy, who is a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) and sleep lab manager at Metrowest Medical Center in Natick, has been a member of the Massachusetts Sleep Society since the fall of 2008, when the organization was founded.
“What drove me to [joining a sleep society] is to be a part of something bigger than just me as a sleep professional,” Murphy said.
He enjoys collaborating with the whole commonwealth on this subject.
A vital part of the Massachsuetts Sleep Society is educating the public, as well as primary care physicians, through a proposal that is currently in the process of becoming a bill in the Massachusetts's Legislature, that declares the second week of March as Massachusetts Sleep Awareness Week and the second week in November as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Both of these designations exist nationwide, but Murphy hopes they will become more integrated into society if they become a part of state law.
He highlighted how there are currently many hurdles that stand between the patient and the quality of care. Therefore, one of the organization's priorities has been to develop quality task forces that interact with the state Legislature, the Massachusetts Medical Society and the insurance companies.
“Even in a hospital setting, a lot of patients don's have an awareness themselves of “Hey, I need help,” and what happens as that next step, so there are a lot of people who fall through the cracks,” Murphy said.
The society helps facilitate more effective interactions between patients and primary care physicians by educating doctors about sleep disorders and treatment options. This encourages patients to take the necessary steps, such as going to a sleep study for diagnosis, in order to receive treatment.
The group meets three times a year, when they have guest speakers – usually sleep officials – and review case studies to further contribute to the field of sleep science. Among other gatherings, members attend the large, regional North East Sleep Society Conference, which happens yearly.
Being a member of the Mass Sleep Society has helped Murphy develop healthy slumber habits himself, even though it can be difficult when working night shifts at the lab, as well as during the day.
“Before I got into sleep, and knew so much about sleep, “Murphy said, “I would probably be breaking a lot of those habits that I's now promoting.”
Murphy believes that technology has had a huge positive impact on disorders, especially with treatment options such as devices to allow people with sleep apnea to breathe during the night.
“About 10 years ago, it looked like people were putting scuba masks on. Now [the continuous positive airway pressure machines are] more comfortable.”
Social networking and the Internet have also contributed to sleep disorder comprehension because of the amount of universally accessible information where people share solutions on a global level.
The downside of social networking and medias are that they may also hamper sleep. Wakefulness can be triggered by: the brightness of smart phones; the brain stimulation from checking e-mail an hour before bed; or the capability of gamers to play with anyone around the world 24 hours a day. Despite these factors, Murphy believes that the benefits of modern technology outweigh the negative aspects.
“If people understand that there is a healthy way to organize [their time using media devices],” he stated, “then you are all set.”