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Sleep is vital to our mental and physical health each day, and not getting enough sleep affects your physical and emotional well-being.
Sleep disorders can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and obesity. They can affect relationships and job performance. They also have been shown to contribute to traffic and industrial accidents.
A medical condition, stress, psychological issues, or environmental factors can cause sleep problems.
Our expert sleep medicine team includes specialists in pulmonary medicine, neurological diseases, reconstructive surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery and psychology. Many team physicians have additional fellowship training in sleep disorders, and all are board-certified in their specialty areas.
Common Sleep Disorders
- Sleep Apnea
- Restless Legs Syndrome
- Parasomnias and Night Terrors
- Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is characterized by periodic, involuntary leg twitching or jerking movements that occur during sleep. More than 80 percent of people with restless legs syndrome also experience PLMD. The movements caused by PLMD are involuntary, unlike RLS. Although most people with RLS develop PLMD, most people with PLMD do not experience RLS.
- Inadequate sleep hygiene (bad sleep habits) is a sleep disorder caused by the performance of daily living activities that are inconsistent with the maintenance of good quality sleep and full daytime alertness.
- Jet lag temporarily causes fatigue, insomnia and other symptoms as a result of air travel across time zones.
- Shift work for second- or third-shift workers results in difficulty sleeping during the day and trouble staying awake during their shift at night. Workers who are most affected work between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and those who do rotating shifts. Night shift workers are likely working during the time in their circadian rhythm (the body’s internal regulator of sleep and wake) when their brain is most sleepy.
- Sleepwalking is characterized by walking or other activity while seemingly still asleep. Sleepwalking may occur at any age, but most often occurs in children ages 6 to 12.
Secondary Sleep Disorders
In addition to primary sleep disorders, more than 50 secondary sleep disorders have been identified, including:
- Eating disorders
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorder
- Environmental sleep disorder
- Teeth grinding
- Delayed sleep phase
Sleep Disorder Symptoms
Because sleep impacts so much of our physical and mental health, there are many symptoms associated with a sleep disorder. Here are the most common:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue
- Snoring, interrupted by pauses in breathing
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Waking up with headaches or a dry throat
- Falling asleep while driving or during other daytime activities
- Irritability and mood changes for no apparent reason
- Restless sleep
- Intellectual decline
- Poor judgment
- Irritability or quick mood swings
- Frequent short attention spans during the day
- Experiencing chest pain while sleeping (nocturnal angina)
- Sexual dysfunction
Sleep Frequently Asked Questions
I don’t sleep as well as I should, but why is that a medical problem?
Sleep is not just a quality-of-life issue. Chronic sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality pose serious risks to your health. One of the biggest concerns is obstructive sleep apnea, which has been strongly linked with high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, stroke and heart attack. Apnea may also play a role in diabetes. In addition, people with sleep apnea are three to seven times more likely than others to be in a car crash.
How do I know if I am a good candidate for the Sleep Disorders Program?
One of the most common — and commonly ignored — symptoms of a sleep disorder is snoring. If you snore, you should be evaluated for potentially serious airway obstruction, especially if you have a cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure. You should also get medical attention if your partner sees you stop breathing during sleep. Other symptoms that could point to a sleep disorder are excessive daytime irritability or grogginess, insomnia, feeling tired after 10 to 12 hours of sleep, several near-miss car crashes, and excessive leg movement, or tossing and turning at night.
- What happens during a sleep study?
What if the CPAP mask doesn’t work for me?
Up to 90% of patients who receive a CPAP learn to tolerate it relatively well. Some people, however, are not able to make the device work for them. For these patients, the next step may be surgery. Surgical options for opening up the airway include reconstructive techniques, laser and radiofrequency procedures, and palatal implants.
Can you help people with sleep problems even if they don’t have a breathing disorder?
Yes. Patients with neurological disorders — like epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain — often have related sleep problems. The Sleep Disorders Program team includes a neurologist who specializes in helping patients who suffer from these diseases. The team also includes a rehabilitation psychologist who works with patients dealing with emotional/behavioral problems like insomnia and shift work disorder. The psychologist provides counseling and education on effective techniques for overcoming these problems.
Does health insurance cover evaluation and treatment for sleep disorders?
Individual insurance companies may require a referral from your primary care physician before you can be evaluated by a sleep medicine specialist. Diagnostic tests usually require pre-authorization, which our staff will do before scheduling any tests.
Medical treatment, such as medication and CPAP equipment, may require pre-authorization from your insurance company. We work with insurers in order to maximize the treatment choices for each patient.
Surgery to correct obstructive sleep apnea is usually covered by health insurance. Please check with your health insurance provider to determine your coverage.
How long will it take before I can be evaluated?
If your primary care physician has referred you to the Sleep Disorders Program, preauthorization typically takes two to three weeks.
Leader in Treating Sleep Disorders
We provide access to physicians who are dual certified both in Sleep Medicine and disorders of the upper airway (Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery). They are able to assist patients in finding the best therapy tailored to their individual needs. Treatment may range from a minimally invasive office based procedure to more advanced airway reconstruction. Physicians use the best available medical evidence to guide treatment, and with the use of modern tools, evaluate outcomes.
Emphasis on Patient Education
Educating patients about their sleep disorder — even before treatment begins — is key to a successful outcome. We discuss recommended treatment options and work with each person to discuss how treatment will evolve over time, going through each step of the process. Patients truly partner with our team members in maximizing their health and well being. People who are struggling with their prescribed medication or sleep equipment get the help they need to maximize the effective use of these items.