When you don't get enough sleep, your whole life is affected. Being tired can cause motor vehicle accidents, injuries, personality changes and irritability. If you feel you aren't getting enough sleep and experience excessive daytime sleepiness, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Sleep apnea is one such disorder and affects millions of Americans.
The Sleep Disorder Centers at Vista Health
Vista Health System now operates two Sleep Disorder Centers--one at Vista Medical Center East, 1324 North Sheridan Road, Waukegan, Illinois; the other at Vista Ambulatory Care Center, 1050 Red Oak Lane, Lindenhurst. The centers perform sleep studies (polysomnography) to aid in the identification and treatment of sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. For more information about the Sleep Disorder Centers at Vista Health, call 847-360-4124.
Polysomnography (Sleep Studies)
During a polysomnograph study you stay overnight (8:30 p.m. – 6 a.m.) in a comfortable room. A technician attaches sensors to your head, chin, throat, chest, abdomen and legs to monitor your sleep from another room. State-of-the-art equipment monitors and records your reaction to sleep including:
- Brain waves
- Eye movements
- Heart rate
- Muscle activity
- Oxygen level
If sleep apnea is identified within the first two to three hours of the study, appropriate treatment will be initiated. Applying treatment in the same evening reduces the need for further sleep studies, which means more convenience to you.
If you feel you have a sleep disorder, contact your doctors. If he/she has ordered a sleep study, call Vista Health's Central Scheduling Department at 847-360-4184 to schedule a time for your study. Have your doctor fax an order with the diagnosis to 847-360-4232.
When You See Your Doctor
A health history is important in diagnosis. Your doctor may ask questions about your snoring pattern, how you feel during the day, your general health and any medications you may be using. A physical exam may be done to check for features that can cause a narrow airway, such as enlarged tonsils, a large neck size or an unusual jaw position. Blood tests can help rule out other health conditions. Your physician may also recommend sleep studies. You will need a written doctor’s order with diagnosis to have an appropriate sleep study at Vista Health’s Sleep Disorders Center.
Different treatment options exist. The right one for you depends upon the presence and severity of sleep apnea as well as other aspects of the disorder. Talk to your doctor about the various treatment options available.
In mild cases, someone with sleep apnea may need to make lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, not using drugs that cause drowsiness and sleeping on his/her side instead of the back.
In moderate to severe cases, using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device while sleeping often helps. A small mask fits over the nose and a bedside compressor provides a constant flow of air to help keep the airway open. When used properly, CPAP is one of the most effective treatments for obstructive and mixed sleep apnea. Adjustments can be made to the CPAP device to ensure proper fit and comfort.
Other treatments, including oral appliances, surgery and medication, are also available. Ask your physician to discuss the benefits of each type of treatment.
More Information on Sleep Disorders
Sleep apnea is defined as the cessation of breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea are unable to get oxygen their bodies require, which prevents them from getting a restful night’s sleep. Untreated, sleep apnea may result in high blood pressure and/or other cardiovascular diseases, stroke, memory loss, weight gain, impotence and headaches.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and mixed. The most common form is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), caused by tissue collapsing in the back of the throat and blocking the airway. The sleeper tries to breathe, but no air can pass into or out of the lungs because of the blockage. Breathing resumes after the person awakens, gasping and struggling for air. Episodes of apnea can last anywhere from ten seconds to over a minute and may occur several hundred times during the night.
In Central Sleep Apnea, the airway stays open, but the brain forgets to tell the muscles that control breathing to keep working. This is the rarest form of the disorder. Mixed Sleep Apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Anyone can have sleep apnea; however, it is more common in males, people who are overweight and people who are middle aged or older. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
- Loud snoring
- Morning headaches
- Daytime sleepiness
- Anxiety or depression
- Decreased interest in sex
- Mood change
- Restless sleep
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Other Sleep Disorders
- Narcolepsy – episodes of suddenly falling asleep
- REM Sleep Behavior Disorder – a form of sleep walking
- Restless Leg Syndrome
A.W.A.K.E. (Alert, Well and Keeping Energetic) is a national health awareness group for patients with sleep apnea. The group provides education and peer support for patients and their families. For more information, call or write:
The American Sleep Apnea Association
2025 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
Tips for a Good Night’s Rest
Even if you do not suffer from a diagnosed sleep disorder, there are steps you can take to get a good night’s sleep. The following is a list of guidelines recommended by the American Sleep Disorders Association:
- Get up about the same time every day.
- Go to bed only when you are sleepy.
- Establish relaxing sleep rituals such as a warm bath or light reading.
- Exercise is good, but vigorous exercise should be done at least 6 hours before bedtime; mild exercise, 4 hours before bedtime. (Endorphins released during exercise may keep you awake.)
- Follow a regular schedule of eating, chores, work, etc.
- Do not eat or drink anything with caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime.
- Do not drink alcohol or smoke close to bedtime.
- Avoid sleeping pills.
For more information on services available at the Vista Health Sleep Disorders Center, call 1-847-360-4124.