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Sleep Disorders

Why is sleep so important to your health?

Good sleep is vital for healthy living.  In fact, it is as important as good nutrition and physical fitness.  If you are not sleeping properly, you will be tired and unable to enjoy life to the fullest.  Your work and relationships may suffer, and you could even develop serious health problems.

Obstructive sleep apnea

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a temporary blockage of the airway that occurs as the throat muscles and tongue relax during sleep.  In these events, breathing may be reduced or blocked for 10 seconds or more and this may occur several times per night.  Breathing is resumed with a loud snore or gasp which may or may not cause you to arouse enough to remember the incident.  Obstructive sleep apnea is very disruptive to the quality of a person’s sleep.

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Snoring
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Sexual problems
  • Lack of concentration
  • Memory lapses
  • Intellectual deterioration
  • Morning headaches
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times

Obstructive sleep apnea has been associated with hypertension (high blood pressure), strokes and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Who suffers from sleep apnea?

Estimations have been made that as many as 42 million Americans have obstructive apnea.  Obstructive sleep apnea occurs in all age groups and both sexes.

What should you do if you suspect you have obstructive sleep apnea?

Talk to your physician or a doctor specializing in sleep disorders.  Obstructive sleep apnea is a very serious problem that is easily identified and treated.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

Your doctor will order an overnight sleep study.  Through the night, sleep data is recorded including sleep stages, heart rate, eye movements, breathing effort, oxygen levels, snoring, and leg movements.  This information is then carefully analyzed to make an appropriate diagnosis and determine the degree of obstructive sleep apnea you may have.

How long does a sleep study take?

Typically, you will be asked to arrive for your study appointment at 7:30 p.m.  You will be prepared for the study and asked to go to bed by 10:30 p.m.  The sleep study will be completed and you will be dismissed by 6:30 a.m.

What are the sleep rooms like?

Your room will have a comfortable bed, cable television, bathroom access, and temperature control.

How is sleep apnea treated?

An effective treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure).  A small mask is placed over the nose and a flow of air from the COPAP prevents the obstruction of the throat that occurs during obstructive sleep apnea.  Many patients experience immediate relief from the obstructions that disrupts their sleep.

Will my insurance company pay for the sleep study?

Many insurance companies will pay for diagnostic sleep studies, however it is best to review with your insurance company to verify coverage and determine which sleep center would be your best choice.

If I need a CPAP machine, will my insurance company pay for it?

If you quality for CPAP, your insurance company will pay for the purchase or rental of the machine.

What other sleep disorders can be found with a sleep study?

Complex sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs, or nocturnal seizures can be found by a sleep study.

Again, if you feel you may have obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep disturbances, talk to your medical practitioner.

How Sleepy Are You?

Take a few moments for a short questionnaire and talk to your doctor about your results. Currently, how likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations?

Epworth Sleepiness Scale

0 = would never doze or sleep
1 = slight chance of dozing or sleeping
2 = moderate chance of dozing or sleeping
3 = high chance of dozing or sleeping

___sitting and reading

___watching TV

___sitting inactive in a public place

___being a passenger in a car for an hour without a break

___lying down to rest in the afternoon

___sitting and talking to someone

___sitting quietly after lunch (no alcohol)

___in a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic

___Total Score

If you have a total score greater than 10 on this test, you should talk with your doctor about how to improve your sleep, obtain adequate sleep, and whether you may have an underlying sleep Disorder.