Sleep is as important to our health as eating and exercise. Sleep is the process by which the body renews itself to keep up with our daily physical and mental demands. Nearly 70 million people in the United States are believed to suffer from some type of sleep disorder. Sleep experts estimate that about 15 percent of the population suffers sufficiently to warrant medical attention. If your sleep is being disturbed by one of the more than 84 sleep/wake disorders that have been identified, this disturbance may result in a decline in overall health.
Sleep disorders may include problems falling asleep and staying asleep, problems staying awake, sleepwalking, nightmares, snoring and others. Problems can vary in severity from a mild inconvenience to life-threatening disorders.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine awarded McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital Sleep Disorders Center a five-year accreditation in 2011.
There are many types of sleeping disorders, but here are four of the most common.
- Sleep apnea: People with sleep apnea literally stop breathing during sleep due to a loss of muscle tone. Typically, breathing stops until oxygen levels fall low enough to alert the sleeping brain that something is wrong. A brief arousal then occurs, and breathing resumes. This cycle can repeat itself hundreds of times a night. Sleep apnea takes a toll on the heart and is often linked with high blood pressure.
- Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLM):In PLM, the legs or arms jerk every 20 to 60 seconds. These movements can cause dozens of brief awakenings during the night.
- Insomnia:Insomnia encompasses problems falling asleep and staying asleep and early morning awakening. Because it is not a disease but a symptom, its underlying cause must be determined before it can be successfully treated. Common causes of insomnia are stress, depression or anxiety.
- Narcolepsy:This is characterized by an irresistible urge to sleep regardless of the amount of sleep patients get. The exact cause is a mystery, but it is believed to be a neurological problem.
In order to determine why an individual is having sleep-related difficulties, a sleep study may be ordered by the physician. A sleep study is a recording that measures and documents many naturally occurring processes of the body during sleep.
Each of the four stages of sleep is important in achieving normal, restful sleep. A polysomnogram, or sleep study, provides useful information about different stages of sleep. Some of the things recorded are ECG (heart rate and rhythm), EEG (brain waves), eye movements, chin movements, breathing effort and airflow, abdominal movements, pulse oximetry and leg movements. These recordings are gathered through the use of electrodes (small metal discs applied to the skin), effort belts, and cameras and microphones. Testing is painless and requires the patient to spend the night in a comfortable surrounding. Through the night, a sleep technologist monitors the testing from an adjacent room and responds to the patient's needs during the process.
The analysis that takes place after the test is completed is extensive. A typical sleep study contains more than 800 pages of raw data. Each line of each page must be studied separately. This process is known as scoring. After the study is scored by a specially trained sleep technologist, the scored information is interpreted by a physician with specialized training in sleep disorders. If a sleep disorder is diagnosed, a treatment plan can be formulated to improve the patient's condition.
McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital's Sleep Disorders Center is located in the McCullough-Hyde Medical Building, 5151 Morning Sun Road, Oxford, Ohio. For more information, call 513 524 5475.