Do you have problems falling asleep or waking up? Are you always tired and rely on caffeinated beverages and short naps to get through the day? Do you feel rundown and depressed?
If you answered yes, you may be one of the nearly 40 million Americans who have a sleep disorder. As recently as a decade ago, people believed sleep problems were simply a fact of life. Many of us still wake up in the morning sleepy, cranky and unable to focus at work, resorting to highly caffeinated beverages or catnaps just to get through the day. But advances made in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine have changed the way people sleep - and live.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea remains the top cause of a poor night's sleep, affecting 18 million Americans. Hormonal changes, weight and family history can cause this disorder, which obstructs air flow to the lungs, resulting in fragmented sleep. Unfortunately, many people with sleep apnea do not realize they are having trouble breathing at night because they quickly fall back asleep after gasping for breath. Excessive sleepiness during the day, an inability to wake up feeling alert, morning headaches and even depression are symptoms of this disorder.
While it may seem like the only problem sleep apnea causes is sleepiness, new research suggests that it is also responsible for a host of other serious conditions, such as hypertension, stroke, obesity and neurocognitive disorders.
Other common sleep problems include insomnia, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy and circadian rhythm disorder, which affects shift workers who frequently change work hours.
Sleep Disorders Center
A multidisciplinary team of SLUCare physicians have recently collaborated to create the one-of-a-kind Sleep Disorders Center, a state-of-the-art clinic designed to diagnose and treat sleep problems.
Led by Joseph R. Espiritu, M.D., F.A.A.S.M., and Raman Malhotra, M.D., the Sleep Disorders Center takes a "boutique" approach to pinpointing sleep apnea and other disorders. Patients enjoy luxurious accommodations, including a Sleep Number Bed, television with digital cable and self-controlled air conditioning. The hotel experience lends itself to comfortable sleep conditions, which make it possible for the experienced team of specialists to determine the cause of one's sleep troubles. While patients sleep, doctors monitor a variety of functions including sleep state, eye movement, muscle activity, heart rate, respiratory effort, airflow, and blood oxygen levels. This test is used both to diagnose sleep apnea and to determine its severity. The Sleep Center also has specialized equipment and the expertise for evaluating for seizures or other abnormal behaviors at night.
The SLUCare Sleep Disorders Center has a variety of approaches for dealing with obstructive sleep apnea. A popular and effective treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure device, a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth and gently blows air into the airway to help keep it open during sleep. Patients with more severe cases may benefit from minimally invasive surgical procedures or dental appliances to reposition the lower lip and tongue.
For more information or to schedule an evaluation or referral, please contact the SLUCare Sleep Disorders Center at (314) 97-SLEEP.