Sleep studies are the best way to diagnose sleeping disorders in patients of any age. Over 50 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders. If left untreated, these sleep disorders can lead to depression, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. However, since many sleep disorders are only observable during sleep, they can be difficult to diagnose. Thankfully, sleep studies allow us to monitor patients as they sleep in order to collect data for diagnosis.
Mark Levy DDS is a powerful ally in the fight against obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. As a sleep specialist, he understands the needs of people who suffer from sleep disorders. Mark Levy DDS also knows how devastating a sleep disorder can be on our lives and our bodies. He helps treat patients with sleep disorders to ensure that they can live a happy, healthy life.
Sleeping issues, including disorders, are a big problem in America. They affect so many people and can have devastating results. The National Sleep Foundation recognizes the enormity of the situation:
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.
The statistics of how many accidents result from inadequate sleep are alarming. Yet sleep deprivation and sleep disorders affect so much more than just our driving. Part of the problem is that many people don’t know that they have a sleeping disorder. It’s easy to know when you should go to the doctor when symptoms present while you’re awake. However, when the primary symptoms only present while you’re asleep it can be difficult to recognize the problem.
Despite the fact that many sleep disorder indications present while you’re asleep, there are some signs that indicate a problem. For example, difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep can be indications of a sleeping disorder. Heavy snoring and gasping for air could indicate obstructive sleep apnea. Restless legs at night may also indicate a problem. Some of these may be difficult to detect on your own. However, if you are regularly extremely tired despite sleeping all night and this feeling persists for more than two weeks, then you might have a sleeping disorder.
If you have these symptoms then it’s a good idea to mention them to your doctor. This allows your doctor to start evaluating you for any potential sleep disorders. It’s likely that your doctor will refer you to a certified sleep physician. These specialists have had formal training and testing in regard to sleep disorders. They have a high level of expertise and can help diagnose the cause of your sleeping problems.
When meeting with your sleep physician you’ll want to describe all the symptoms you experience. Be sure to advise of all symptoms, even if you’re not sure that they’re related to your sleeping problem. All information is useful in helping diagnose your condition. The National Sleep Foundation goes on to describe sleep studies:
After an initial consultation with your physician or a sleep specialist, you may be referred for a sleep study. The medical term for this study is “polysomnogram,” which is a noninvasive, pain-free procedure that usually requires spending a night or two in a sleep facility. During a polysomnogram, a sleep technologist records multiple biological functions during sleep, such as brain wave activity, eye movement, muscle tone, heart rhythm and breathing via electrodes and monitors placed on the head, chest and legs.
After a full night’s sleep is recorded, the data will be tabulated by a technologist and presented to a physician for interpretation. Depending on the physician’s orders, patients may be given therapy during the course of the study, which may include medication, oxygen or a device called continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP.
Your doctor may request other sleep studies as well. Additional tests can be done during the day to check for a variety of conditions and disorders. Your doctor will advise you if they feel you need additional testing.
Most sleep studies occur in the hospital or a sleep center. In some cases, you may be allowed to do the study in your own home. However, the rooms for sleep studies are generally designed to make you as comfortable as possible. It’s important to check with your insurance to see which type of facility is covered for your sleep study. Some insurance companies will only cover sleep studies at accredited facilities. This ensures that they have all the proper equipment and that the staff is adequately trained.
The data collected through the sleep studies is organized and provided to your sleep physician. They then review the data and advise if additional sleep studies need to be conducted. When they have all of the information that they need, they’ll provide you with a diagnosis.
After you’ve been diagnosed, you can begin treatment. The most commonly diagnosed sleep disorder is obstructive sleep apnea. This is generally treated using a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP. The National Sleep Foundation discusses this primary treatment option:
CPAP is an air pressure system that helps hold the air passages in the nose and throat open during sleep and eliminates snoring and pauses in breathing. Proper fitting and instruction for use of CPAP equipment – whether simple nosepieces or more elaborate masks – is critical to ensure your comfort and willingness to continue with treatment. There may be a period when different equipment is used and several adjustments are made. It is important that you share your questions and concerns with the sleep specialists who are working with you for the best possible outcome.
These days, CPAP equipment comes in a variety of styles designed for comfort. If one type of machine isn’t working for you then talk to your doctor about alternative devices.
However, there are many treatments available for a wide variety of sleeping disorders. The National Sleep Foundation goes on to discuss other treatment options:
There is a wide range of methods for treating sleep problems. Medications may be prescribed by your physician. Sometimes a sleep psychologist is called upon to recommend non-drug approaches that may include addressing patients’ pessimism about their sleep surroundings, correcting misconceptions about sleep, controlling stimulating factors that hinder sleep and identifying positive behaviors that aid sleep. Improving your diet, your sleep environment and your bedtime rituals, including the timing of physical exercise, alcohol intake, and other factors may all contribute to a better night’s sleep.
Some patients may be candidates for night-time oral or dental appliances to reduce snoring and apnea. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine at www.aadsm.org lists dental sleep medicine specialists by state.
Mark Levy DDS is a member of The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine as well as the Academy of Clinical Sleep Disciplines. He is one of the leading experts and even teaches dental sleep medicine to dental practices across the nation. Dental appliances, such as those offered by Dr. Levy, are a great alternative for patients who have difficulty with CPAP treatment.
It’s important that you follow up as recommended after your treatment begins. As we age, our bodies change and so do our needs. Your sleep specialist may request that you have an additional sleep study after some time has passed. This allows them to see how well you’ve responded to treatment and possibly make changes. Your physician may also need to make adjustments to your treatment plan as time passes and your needs change. If you’ve made lifestyle changes, you may eventually no longer need treatment. Follow up appointments also allow your physician to tell you about the latest advances in treating sleep disorders. New and improved treatments become available regularly to help the millions of Americans suffering from sleep disorders.
Some treatments are difficult for patients to follow. It’s extremely important that you work with your physician to find a treatment option that works for you. It is extremely dangerous to choose not to treat a known sleep disorder. It is also irresponsible if you have a job that requires you to drive regularly. Driving while impaired due to inadequate sleep not only puts your life at risk, but those around you as well.
With treatment, around 90% of patients experience improvement. These high statistics show that treating sleep disorders is highly effective. The risk to your health and your life is easily reduced or even eliminated by seeking treatment. Take charge of your life and your sleep by speaking to your doctor today.