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Sleep Disorders Center Helps Identify Sleep Difficulties 
Brent Grundstrom, RRT, manager of Cardiopulmonary Services     With the change from daylight savings time, many of us have suffered through days of sleep disruption.  For those who experience persistent difficulty sleeping, the cause may be more than just the time change.  The Sleep Disorders Center at St. Francis Hospital & Health Services utilizes state-of-the-art medical equipment, along with a specially trained and qualified staff, to identify and solve sleep problems.

According to recent estimates, millions of Americans suffer from one or more types of sleep disorder, ranging from difficulty with falling asleep and staying asleep to excessive daytime drowsiness.  Most people are not aware that these disorders can create or aggravate serious medical problems, affect productivity, and generally depress one's  outlook on and quality of life.

A sleep study is required to diagnose sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA, basically referred to as sleep apnea, is a common disorder that affects millions of Americans. In many of these people, the condition is undiagnosed.

OSA takes its name from the Greek word apnea, which means "without breath." People with sleep apnea literally stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, often for a minute or longer and as many as hundreds of times during a single night. Once you have stopped breathing, your body wakes itself back up to begin breathing again. It leaves your brain without oxygen, and disturbs your sleep constantly. People with sleep apnea are at higher risk for heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure.

“Our strongest indicator of sleep disorders come from what the bed partner says, whether or not the patient has stopped breathing, gasps for air or chokes while sleeping,” explains Brent Grundstrom, RRT, manager of cardiopulmonary services at St. Francis. “Other signs and symptoms include large neck sizes, snoring, high blood pressure, excessive weight gain, morning headache, decreased alertness and excessive daytime sleepiness.”

St. Francis has joined with Heartland Regional Medical Center to operate the Sleep Disorders Center.  With a private home-like setting, the Center can help diagnose and treat sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia and difficulties staying awake or adhering to a consistent sleep cycle.

The sleep study or polysomnogram is a multiple-component test, which electronically transmits and records specific physical activities while you sleep. During the study, a sleep study technician will set up monitoring equipment at the bedside. Electrodes attached to the patient will be connected by wires to the monitor.  The recordings from the monitor become data, which will be "read" or analyzed by a qualified physician to determine whether or not you have a sleep disorder.

Sleep is so obvious, it is often overlooked. However, sleep is as fundamental as diet and exercise to human health. Sleep disorders are often associated with other chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and they can add complexity and even accelerate these conditions if untreated.  Untreated sleep apnea has also been shown to raise the risk of death from motor vehicle accidents and cardiovascular disease. Researchers have linked sleep apnea with depression, irritability, forgetfulness and sexual dysfunction.

 “Sleep is one of the key ingredients for a healthy lifestyle – but the truth is, most of us don’t get enough of it,” said Grundstrom.  “A lack of sleep can damage our health, increase stress, and reduce the concentration we need to perform in our daily lives.”

The Sleep Disorders Center sees patients through physician referral. Call (660) 562-2600, Ext. 6015 for more information about the St. Francis Sleep Disorders Center.

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