Here are the answers to some common questions about sleep medicine. Click on a question to see the answer.
What are some common sleep disorders?
SLEEP APNEA is the most common sleep disorder, affecting millions of Americans, in which one actually stops breathing many times during the night. The result is excessive daytime sleepiness and potentially serious heart problems due to dangerously low blood oxygen levels.
NARCOLEPSY is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects nearly 1 in 2,000 Americans, that is characterized by sudden periods of overwhelming sleepiness, or “sleep attacks” in which you actually fall asleep — often at inappropriate times and in unusual circumstances.
INSOMNIA is a common problem for 1 out of every 3 adults in the U.S., in which one is unable to fall asleep or to stay asleep. The result is decreased wakefulness, concentration and performance during the day.
RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME is a common disorder that affects up to 1 in 10 U.S. adults, characterized by unpleasant feelings in the legs and a strong urge to move them. The result is trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, often causing excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability, and problems with memory and concentration.
PARASOMNIAS such as walking, talking, screaming and performing other behaviors in sleep often result in accidental injury and can be a symptom of a medical illness or psychological stress.
IRREGULAR SLEEP-WAKE SCHEDULES, such as jet lag and malaise associated with rotating shift work result in constantly changing sleep-wake schedules that disrupt the body’s normal biological rhythms and can lead to insomnia, daytime sleepiness, irritability and depression.
What are the most common symptoms of a sleep disorder?
Excessive daytime sleepiness
High blood pressure
Problems with memory and concentration
Repetitive leg movements
What are the treatment options?
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure):
Some patients may need to use a CPAP machine to keep their airway open during sleep. CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea.
For some people who have mild cases of sleep apnea, losing weight, changing sleep habits, sleeping on your side, avoiding alcohol and sleep medications may resolve your sleep disorder.
Oral Appliances: Mouth guards can be used to hold the tongue or jaw forward, thus helping you sleep more soundly.
Medications: Sleeping pills and sedatives can be dangerous for people with sleep apnea. Some medications can be prescribed to stimulate your breathing during sleep.
Surgery: In a small percentage of sleep apnea cases, surgery is needed to widen a restricted airway.
What is a Sleep Study?
Sleep Study Testing (Polysomnogram)
At PAR, all sleep study testing is performed on state of the art equipment with fully trained sleep technicians. Care is given to perform testing that meets or exceeds the standards set by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. There are a few different types of sleep studies or Polysomnograms, to diagnose your sleep disorder.
A Diagnostic Polysomnogram monitors brainwaves, heart activity, blood oxygen levels, breathing and muscle activity to determine the presence of a sleep disorder.
A CPAP/Bi-Level Titration Polysomnogram monitors the same as the diagnostic study but also allows for the most effective treatment of a common sleep disorder known as Obstruc-tive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
A Split Night Polysomnogram is a specific study that allows for the combination of a di-agnostic study and a CPAP/BI-Level titration study if certain criteria are met during the first portion of the study.
A Multiple Sleep Latency Polysomnogram is a day time nap study, that monitors brainwaves, blood oxygen levels and heart activity to determine the cause of hypersomnolence (excessive daytime sleepiness) and can diagnose Narcolepsy.
A Maintenance of Wakefulness Test is a daytime nap study, that monitors the patient to determine the ability for the patient to maintain wakefulness.
Why is it important to diagnosis and treat a sleep disorder?
Sleep Disorders are potentially serious, occasionally life threatening medical problems that are linked to other health problems including heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure, sexual dysfunction, and depression.
The good news is that proper treatment for a sleep disorder can significantly improve your quality of life, and oftentimes reduce or eliminate your need for medications to treat the conditions that result from your sleep disorder.
Why should I see a pulmonologist for my sleep disorder?
Pulmonologists are lung specialists. They work in hospitals, offices, and sleep centers treating a variety of illnesses from Asthma and COPD to sleep disorders. Pulmonologists can help you breathe better while you’re asleep or awake.