How Does A Sleep Study Work?

A sleep study is a non-invasive, overnight exam that allows doctors to monitor you while you sleep to see what’s happening in your brain and body.

What is a Sleep Study?

A sleep study may involve the following: Polysomnogram (PSG) – a diagnostic test which monitors brain activity, breathing and leg movements which helps to evaluate sleep apnea (obstruction of air flow) or a condition known as periodic leg movements of sleep. Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) – a daytime sleep study which evaluates how fast a person falls asleep.

Should You Get a Sleep Study?

The National Commission on Sleep Disorders estimates that millions of Americans are needlessly suffering from undiagnosed or misdiagnosed sleep disorders. Left untreated, sleep disorders can lead to increased health risks and an overall lower quality of life.

To determine whether you might benefit from a sleep evaluation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you regularly have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep?
  • Do you have a problem with snoring? Has anyone ever told you that you have pauses in breathing or that you gasp for breath when you sleep?
  • Are your legs “active” at night? Do you experience tingling, creeping, itching, pulling, aching or other strange feelings in your legs while sitting or lying down that cause a strong urge to move, walk or kick your legs for relief?
  • Are you so tired when you wake up in the morning that you cannot function normally during the day?
  • Does sleepiness and fatigue persist for more than two to three weeks?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a complete sleep evaluation should be considered.

What to Expect?

The first step will be an initial visit with our sleep specialist who will review your medical and sleep history. You will then schedule an appointment for an overnight visit. To help determine if a sleep disorder exists, your physician will need to know what physiologic changes occur during your typical night of sleep. We do this by recording your brainwave pattern (known as the EEG) as well as your eye movements and degree of muscle tone. Using an EKG monitor, we will measure your heart rate and check for irregular heart beats during the night. Other measurements will include oxygen saturation, snoring, leg movements or jerking and respiratory effort. An intercom in the room will allow communication with the technician should you have any questions or require assistance. Studies will usually begin between 8:00 pm and 9:30 pm and will conclude at about 6 am. You will then follow up with your physician who will make recommendations for treatment of the disorder.

How to Prepare?

In order to feel more comfortable with your stay, feel free to bring your toiletries and usual sleepwear and if you prefer, your own pillow. (It is helpful to avoid using hair products or skin lotions on the night of the study). It is recommended that you eat a meal prior to your study and continue to take medications as prescribed (unless your physician specifies otherwise). It is also preferred that you not consume foods or beverages containing caffeine after 5pm.

Finally…

The Sleep Disorders Center at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is a comprehensive clinic supervised by a physician board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and is a Diplomate, American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Using the latest technology for diagnosing and treating sleep disorders in a comfortable and home-like atmosphere, our team of sleep professionals is dedicated to providing the highest quality of sleep for our patients. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule and appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Sleep Foundation).

How Sleep Deprivation is Inhibiting You From Your Full Potential

If you’re getting less than eight hours of sleep each night, chances are you’re sleep deprived. What’s more, you probably have no idea just how much lack of sleep is affecting you.

How is it possible to be sleep deprived without knowing it? Most of the signs of sleep deprivation are much more subtle than falling face first into your dinner plate. Furthermore, if you’ve made a habit of skimping on sleep, you may not even remember what it feels like to be truly wide-awake, fully alert, and firing on all cylinders. Maybe it feels normal to get sleepy when you’re in a boring meeting, struggling through the afternoon slump, or dozing off after dinner, but the truth is that it’s only “normal” if you’re sleep deprived.

You May Be Sleep Deprived if You:

  • Need an alarm clock in order to wake up on time
  • Rely on the snooze button
  • Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
  • Feel sluggish in the afternoon
  • Get sleepy in meetings, lectures, or warm rooms
  • Get drowsy after heavy meals or when driving
  • Need to nap to get through the day
  • Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening
  • Feel the need to sleep in on weekends
  • Fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed

Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation

While it may seem like losing sleep isn’t such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond daytime drowsiness. Lack of sleep affects your judgment, coordination, and reaction times. In fact, sleep deprivation can affect you just as much as being drunk.

The effects include:

  • Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
  • Moodiness and irritability; increased risk of depression
  • Decreased sex drive; relationship problems
  • Impaired brain activity; learning, concentration, and memory problems
  • Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills; difficulty making decisions
  • Inability to cope with stress, difficulty managing emotions
  • Premature skin aging
  • Weakened immune system; frequent colds and infections; weight gain
  • Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents; hallucinations and delirium
  • Increased risk of serious health problems including stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers

How to Get The Sleep That You Need

Whether you’re looking to resolve a specific sleep problem, or just want to feel more productive, mentally sharp, and emotionally balanced during the day, experiment with the following sleep tips to see which work best for you:

Rule out medical causes for your sleep problems. A sleep disturbance may be a symptom of a physical or mental health issue or a side-effect of certain medications.

Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.

Get regular exercise. Regular exercise can improve the symptoms of many sleep disorders and problems. Aim for 30 minutes or more of activity on most days—but not too close to bedtime.

Be smart about what you eat and drink. Caffeine, alcohol and sugary foods can all disrupt your sleep, as can eating heavy meals or drinking lots of fluids too close to bedtime.

Get help with stress management. If the stress of managing work, family, or school is keeping you awake at night, learning how to handle stress in a productive way can help you sleep better at night.

Improve your sleep environment. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool, and reserve your bed for just sleeping and sex.

Develop a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid screens, work, and stressful conversations late at night. Instead, wind down and calm your mind by taking a warm bath, reading by a dim light, or practicing a relaxation technique to prepare for sleep.

Postpone worrying. If you wake during the night feeling anxious about something, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone worrying about it until the next day when it will be easier to resolve.

Finally…

The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort.

Sleep isn’t just a “time out” from daily life. It is an active state important for renewing our mental and physical health each day. If you’re failing to get a good night’s sleep, contact us to schedule an appointment or answer any questions.

Some information provided by Help Guide).

Stay Awake at The Wheel: Putting an End To Drowsy Driving

Your body requires three things: water, food and sleep. You can choose not to drink water or not eat food until you eventually die. Your body’s need for sleep is so strong, however, that you can try not to sleep, but your brain will eventually make your body sleep. When you deprive yourself of sleep (or aren’t getting quality sleep), you become drowsy.

Drowsiness is a feeling of being sleepy and lethargic. Drowsiness can be triggered by your body clock, exposure to daylight/darkness and how long you’ve been awake. The average amount of sleep recommended for an adult is eight hours. Any less can impair you speech and motor skills. It is even likened the effects of being under the influence of alcohol.

How Common is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving is responsible for 100, 000 police-reported crashes annually, involving 76,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths. However, studies suggest an even higher rate of drowsy driving. One study goes as far as to say 55% of people drive while drowsy, while 23% fall asleep behind the wheel without incident, and 3% have been in a drowsy/sleep-related accident.

Drivers that are drowsy are usually unaware of how tired they are prior to an accident, and as of now, there is no test for sleepiness after a wreck.  This is due, in part, to the release of adrenaline that an accident causes the brain to release. Drowsy drivers are often fully alert after an accident, which can be misleading. Drivers also tend to be reluctant to tell police they were drowsy after a crash.

What are the Common Characteristics in Drowsy Driving Accidents?

The time of day could be a cause for a driver being drowsy. Our brain tells our body to sleep in the quiet midnight hour, but we get a similar call at the peak hours of the afternoon. In turn, most accidents happen between midnight and 8 a.m., closely followed by 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. So, if you must drive during these times, provide yourself with plenty of sleep beforehand.

82% of reported drowsy crashes involved an individual driving alone. Another person in the vehicle provides a buffer to keep the driver alert. At very least, the passenger has the opportunity to notice when the driver is getting sleepy. Driving with the “buddy system” can allow the passengers in the vehicle to drive on a shift schedule.

One report stated  4% of all fatalities are attributed to people driving drowsy. Good indicators can include no skid marks or witnesses not seeing brake lights.

Who is Most at Risk?

Young drivers make up the majority of drowsy drivers. 55%, to be exact. Males make up 75% of those car wrecks, while females account for the the remaining 25%. Other attributing factors include lifestyle or behavioral choices. Younger people to make tiresome decisions such as to stay up late and work longer hours.

What are the Signs of Drowsy Driving?

  • Drifting from your lane or hit the rumble strip.
  • Finding yourself yawning frequently.
  • Catching yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.
  • Weakened attention or wandering mind.
  • Tailgating and missing of traffic signs.
  • Having trouble focusing and keeping your eyes open.

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving?

Prevent drowsy driving by making sure you (or your driver) is well rested before extended car trips-trips. Another effective measure is to stop and sleep when you feel tired. Also, avoid alcohol and medications that impair your ability to drive. Don’t fall under the fallacy that you’ll be able to shake it off and be fine when you can feel your eyes getting heavy.

Alerting devices can save your life. One of the most effective alerts is the roadway rumble strip to wake a driver who is drifting off but it isn’t a cure-all. Auto manufacturers are also creating new devices to help keep a driver awake on the road.

If healthy sleep habits don’t help your drowsiness, you should get a sleep study. Learn more about sleep studies and sleep disorders.

An Insider’s Guide to Understanding Insomnia

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Insomnia is a disorder in which a person cannot get adequate or quality sleep.  People suffering with insomnia may experience difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during sleep, difficulty returning to sleep and unrefreshed sleep. Some symptoms of a sleep disorder can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Constant leg movement
  • Gasping episodes at night
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Loud snoring
  • Dry mouth, sore throat
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of energy

What Causes Insomnia?

Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric and medical conditions, unhealthy sleep habits, specific substances, and/or certain biological factors. Recently, researchers have begun to think about insomnia as a problem of your brain being unable to stop being awake (your brain has a sleep cycle and a wake cycle—when one is turned on the other is turned off—insomnia can be a problem with either part of this cycle: too much wake drive or too little sleep drive). It’s important to first understand what could be causing your sleep difficulties.

There are many medical conditions (some mild and others more serious) that can lead to insomnia. In some cases, a medical condition itself causes insomnia, while in other cases, symptoms of the condition cause discomfort that can make it difficult for a person to sleep.

Insomnia & Lifestyle

Insomnia can be triggered or perpetuated by your behaviors and sleep patterns. Unhealthy lifestyles and sleep habits can create insomnia on their own (without any underlying psychiatric or medical problem), or they can make insomnia caused by another problem worse.

Examples of how specific lifestyles and sleep habits can lead to insomnia are:

  • You work at home in the evenings. This can make it hard to unwind, and it can also make you feel preoccupied when it comes time to sleep. The light from your computer could also make your brain more alert.
  • You take naps (even if they are short) in the afternoon. Short naps can be helpful for some people, but for others, they make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
  • You sometimes sleep in later to make up for lost sleep. This can confuse your body’s clock and make it difficult to fall asleep again the following night.
  • You are a shift worker (meaning that you work irregular hours). Non-traditional hours can confuse your body’s clock, especially if you are trying to sleep during the day, or if your schedule changes periodically.

Some cases of insomnia start out with an acute episode but turn into a longer-term problem. For example, let’s say a person can’t sleep for a night or two after receiving bad news. In this case, if the person starts to adopt unhealthy sleep habits such as getting up in the middle of the night to work, or drinking alcohol before bed to compensate, the insomnia can continue and potentially turn into a more serious problem. Instead of passing, it can become chronic.

It’s important to address insomnia instead of letting it become a regular part of your life. If lifestyle and unhealthy sleep habits are the cause of insomnia, there are things that can help. If you have tried to change your sleep behaviors and it hasn’t worked, it’s important to take this seriously and talk to your doctor.

Insomnia & The Brain

In some cases, insomnia may be caused by certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are known to be involved with sleep and wakefulness.

There are many possible chemical interactions in the brain that could interfere with sleep and may explain why some people are biologically prone to insomnia and seem to struggle with sleep for many years without any identifiable cause—even when they follow healthy sleep advice. Contact us if you have any question or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Sleep Foundation).

Sleep Hygiene Rules You Actually Want To Know

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Sleep isn’t just “time out” from daily life. It is an active state important for renewing our mental and physical health each day. More than 100 million Americans of all ages, however, regularly fail to get a good night’s sleep.

At least 84 disorders of sleeping and walking lead to a lowered quality of life and reduced personal health. They endanger public safety by contributing to traffic and industrial accidents. These disorders can lead to problems falling asleep and staying asleep, difficulties staying awake or staying with a regular sleep/wake cycle, sleepwalking, bedwetting, nightmares, and other problems that interfere with sleep. Some sleep disorders can be life-threatening.

Sleep Hygiene Rules

These guidelines can be used for many different sleep disorders. They will help most people sleep better. For more specific guidelines for your particular sleep disorder, consult your healthcare professional.

  • Keep a regular time to get up in the morning, even on days off work and on weekends.
  • Go to bed only when you’re drowsy.
  • Leave your bedroom and engage in a quiet activity elsewhere if you are unable to fall asleep within 20 minutes. Do not permit yourself to fall asleep outside the bedroom. Return to bed when, and only when, you are sleepy. Repeat this process as often as necessary throughout the night.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep, sex, and times sickness.
  • Avoid napping during the daytime. If you nap, try to do so at the same time every day and for no more than 40 minutes. Mid-afternoon (no later than 3:00 pm) is best for most people.
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath, light bedtime snacks, or 10 minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly. Do not exercise vigorously any later than 6 hours before bedtime, and do mild exercises at least 4 hours prior to bedtime.
  • Keep a regular schedule. Regular times for meals, medications, chores and other activities help keep the inner clock running smoothly.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime. A light snack before bedtime can help you sleep soundly. A large meal before bedtime can cause difficulty sleeping.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime.
  • Do not drink alcohol when sleepy. Even a small dose of alcohol can have a potent effect when combined with tiredness.
  • Use sleeping pills carefully. Most doctors avoid prescribing sleeping pills for longer than 3 weeks.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking sleeping pills or other medications.

Some symptoms of a sleep disorder can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Constant leg movement
  • Gasping episodes at night
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Loud snoring
  • Dry mouth, sore throat
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of energy

Good sleep hygiene and medications are aimed at improving the soundness of a person’s sleep. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule and appointment.