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Sleep Disorders

Saint Francis Medical Center Sleep Lab
The Sleep Lab at Saint Francis Medical Center is for outpatients ages 9 and older. Sleep lab patients will find a comfortable space with a full-sized bed, resembling a hotel room rather than the hospital room or bed that many might expect.

Our patients usually come to the sleep lab in the evening and our staff prepares them for an overnight stay.  Our trained staff monitor patients while they sleep and record patterns may indicate a sleep disorder. This information is examined by a pulmonologist who can diagnose a sleep disorder and recommend treatment if needed.

Sleep Disorders
According to the National Institutes of Health, between 50-70 million Americans are affected by chronic sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems that can significantly diminish health, alertness and safety. Untreated sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Sleep problems can take many forms and can involve too little sleep, too much sleep or inadequate quality of sleep.

The Institute of Medicine recently estimated in its report, “Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem,” that “hundreds of billions of dollars a year are spent on direct medical costs related to sleep disorders such as doctor visits, hospital services, prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications.” Sleep problems and lack of sleep can affect everything from personal and work productivity to behavioral and relationship problems. Sleep problems can have serious consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving claims more than 1,500 lives and causes at least 100,000 motor vehicle crashes each year.

Compounding the problem is the fact that most people know when to seek medical help for physical discomfort such as fever or pain, but sleep problems are often overlooked or ignored. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people with sleep disorders are undiagnosed and untreated.

What are sleep studies?
Sleep studies allow doctors to measure how much and how well you sleep. They also help show whether you have sleep problems and how severe they are.

Sleep studies are important because untreated sleep disorders can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack stroke and other medical conditions. Sleep disorders also have been linked to an increased risk of injury due to falls and car accidents.

People usually aren’t aware of their breathing and movements while sleeping. They may never think to talk to their doctors about sleep- and health-related issues that may be linked to sleep problems.

Doctors can diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Talk with your doctor if you snore regularly or feel very tired while at work or school most days of the week.

You also may want to talk with your doctor if you often have trouble falling or staying asleep, or if you wake up too early and aren’t able to go back to sleep. These are common signs of a sleep disorder.

Doctors can diagnose some sleep disorders by asking questions about your sleep schedule and habits and by getting information from sleep partners or parents. To diagnose other sleep disorders, doctors also use the results from sleep studies and other medical tests.

Sleep studies can help doctors diagnose:

  • Sleep-related breathing disorders (such as sleep apnea)
  • Sleep-related seizure disorders
  • Narcolepsy

Should your sleep be evaluated?
To determine whether you might benefit from a sleep evaluation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you regularly have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep?
  • Do people tell you that you snore? Has anyone ever told you that you have pauses in breathing or that you gasp for breath when you sleep?
  • Are your legs “active” or restless at night? Do you experience tingling, creeping, itching, pulling, aching or other strange feelings in your legs while sitting or lying down that cause a strong urge to move, walk or kick your legs for relief?
  • Are you so tired when you wake up in the morning that you cannot function normally during the day?
  • Does sleepiness and fatigue persist for more than two to three weeks?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a complete sleep evaluation should be considered and discussed with your physician. Before your visit, it may be helpful to track your sleep patterns and medications.