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Questions about Sleep Disorders

What is a sleep disorder?

'Sleep disorder' is a term for a wide range of conditions which interfere with normal sleep patterns. The disorders range from periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS) to hypersomnia (excessive sleeping). Some sleep disturbances, like excessive snoring, interrupt the sleep of partners or family members. Other problems, such as sleep apnea (the cessation of breathing during sleep) can pose serious health risks.

Some patients believe they are sleeping soundly, but their sleep is actually fragmented by episodes when they cease breathing for prolonged moments, depriving the brain of oxygen. Known as sleep apnea, this is a normally dangerous condition that most commonly affects men & women between the ages of 18 and 80. Other patients suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, night terrors, or severe morning headaches.

Categories of Sleep Disorders:

Disorders in Maintaining Sleep (DIMS)

  • Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
  • Central sleep apnea syndrome
  • Upper airway resistance syndrome
  • Parasomnia (movements in sleep such as restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movements, sleep walking and talking)

Disorders of Excessive Sleepiness (DOES)

  • Delayed sleep phase (often afflicting patients with shift work changes)
  • Sleep walking, sleep talking
  • Night terrors - nightmares
  • Narcolepsy - hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness)

How are sleep disorders diagnosed?

The Trinity Mother Frances Sleep Disorders Center offers advanced facilities and equipment and a highly specialized staff to test and evaluate patients referred by their primary physician or a sleep specialist. A team of polysomnographic technologists perform comprehensive evaluations of patients experiencing symptoms of sleep disorders using the latest diagnostic equipment.

Diagnosis of sleep problems involves an overnight stay in one of eight quiet, homelike sleep rooms in the Sleep Disorders Center, where brainwave activity and sleep habits are monitored. Using advanced computerized technology, patients are linked to computers which continuously record a multitude of neurological functions as the patient sleeps. Daytime tests for some patients may also be administered following a regular nocturnal sleep test, checking the average sleep time during a series of naps. Children as well as teens and adults can be tested.

What are some symptoms of sleep disorders?

  • Problem snoring
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Waking up gasping for breath
  • Morning headaches
  • Forgetfulness
  • Exhaustion
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep walking
  • Night terrors - nightmares

How are sleep disorders treated?

Results of sleep tests are processed and analyzed quickly, so patients and their physicians receive reports within just a few days.

Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may involve use of sleep aids such as a device called a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)  mask connected to a blower machine, which supports proper breathing for the patient during sleep; positional therapy, dental appliances, medications, counseling and support groups, therapy, or surgical alternatives.

 
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