Adults typically spend one third of their lives sleeping. Until recently, the medical community has overlooked the importance of this activity on our overall health. In recent studies, researchers have uncovered how sleep is essential to our mental and physical health. Inadequate sleep has been linked to poor memory, inability to concentrate, mood disorders and depression. Sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, difficulty controlling blood sugar levels, increased risk of heart attack and stroke. For overall healthy living, the quality of our sleep is just as important as the quantity. Sleep quality is often affected by sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or periodic limb movements.
Question: What should I do if I think I have a sleep disorder?
Answer: Make an appointment with a physician. At Respiratory Consultants of Georgia we have doctors and staff who are specially trained to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Our doctors will provide you with a comprehensive evaluation and determine if an overnight sleep study is needed.
Question: How can I tell if the amount and quality of my sleep are normal?
Answer: Most adults require eight hours of sleep per night; however, this is an average. Some may require more, some may require less. Typically, if you were always someone who required less or more sleep, this pattern will follow you throughout your life. If, however, you are getting your usual amount of sleep but are still waking up tired or remain tired though out the day, the quality of your sleep may be the reason. You may have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea.
Question: What is sleep apnea? Is it serious?
Answer: Sleep apnea is a condition in which the upper airway becomes so relaxed during sleep that it actually reduces or blocks the flow of air into the lungs. This results in a decrease in oxygen to vital organs including the brain and heart. The body responds with a “fight-or-flight” chemical message, which gets sent to the brain. Although the sleeping person is unaware of this as it happens, a series of events result, including: increased brain activity (when the brain should be at rest), increase in blood pressure and an increase in heart rate. The combination of these events results in daytime sleepiness despite adequate sleep time, high blood pressure, difficulty maintaining a healthy weight, difficulty controlling blood glucose levels, increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, dementia, heart failure and irregular heart rhythms. Other consequences could include depression, loss of sexual drive, decrease in productivity and an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents. So is this serious? Yes. If left untreated it can be very serious.
Question: What is a sleep study? Does it hurt?
Answer: No, it doesn’t hurt. Our registered sleep technologists will do their best to make this a pleasant experience. You will spend the night in one of our luxurious private sleep rooms. Several electrodes will be applied using adhesive or paste. Through these electrodes your breathing, heart rate, oxygen, snoring and leg movements will be recorded while you sleep. Our technologists monitor you from a separate monitoring station. All the data that is recorded will help our physicians to analyze the health of your sleep and diagnose potentially dangerous sleep disorders. After the test is complete, you will be woken and will have time to go home, shower and go to work. Our doctors will personally go over the results with you at your next scheduled appointment.
Question: Will I have to sleep with one of those masks?
Answer: If your sleep study reveals that you have sleep apnea, you may benefit from using a CPAP machine or other form of therapy. This technology has evolved over the years. The machines are quiet and there are a multitude of mask choices. This will be discussed at great length if you do indeed have sleep apnea.
Question: How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Answer: Take this brief survey
- I have been told that I snore.
- I have been told that I hold my breath while I sleep.
- I have high blood pressure.
- My friends and family say that I’m often grumpy and irritable.
- I wish I had more energy.
- I get morning headaches.
- I sometimes wake up gasping for breath.
- I am overweight.
- I often feel sleepy and struggle to remain alert during the day.
- I frequently wake with a dry mouth.
- I wake up frequently to use the bathroom.
If you answered “yes” to 3 or more of theses statements, you have symptoms consistent with sleep apnea. The only way to know for sure if you have sleep apnea is to undergo a sleep study.