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July 18, 2016
IF YOU’RE STILL TIRED when you wake up, even after a full night’s slumber, or if your heavy snoring keeps everyone up except you, you may have sleep problems that a sleep clinic could help address.
A restful night is vital to being healthy and productive. Most people can attain this simply by having regular sleep hours in a quiet, darkened room with a quality, comfortable mattress. But for others, it’s not that simple.
To identify problems such as sleep apnea and insomnia, among the most common sleep disorders, your doctor may refer you to a sleep clinic, where you may get set up for a sleep study to see how well and how much you get your Zzzzs.
A sleep study is painless and can actually be quite comfortable. The setting is generally reminiscent of a hotel room, albeit staffed with nurses and technicians who place electrodes on various parts of your body. While that doesn’t necessarily sound conducive to comfortably drifting off, patients in a sleep study are usually able to get enough shut-eye to provide the information needed by the medical professionals.
More than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, in which breathing stops momentarily. Severe sleep apnea can cause someone to stop breathing hundreds of times each night. Breathing can stop for a few seconds or for a minute or longer.
In obstructive sleep apnea, the upper passages of the airway are closed off, causing breathing to stop. People with this disorder generally snore loudly and have pauses in breathing that are sometimes accompanied by choking, gasping or snorting. They may be overweight, have high blood pressure, experience frequent fatigue to the point of nodding off during the day, get up to urinate often during the night, and frequently feel irritable, moody or depressed.
Central sleep apnea (which involves pauses in breathing but is caused by a disorder within the central nervous system rather than an obstruction), insomnia, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy and other health conditions are among other potential sleep problems.
Troubles drifting off or staying asleep can be linked to a variety of possible causes, including obesity, depression and even menopause. Noise and light level can affect your sleep, as well as shift changes at work and other elements that alter patterns of wakefulness.
Your bed may also be a factor. A quality mattress that maintains a comfortable position for you is essential; if your mattress is no longer comfortable, it’s likely time to look for a new one. An adjustable bed base can also help you discover the right level of support to promote peaceful slumber.
Sleep issues don’t just affect you at night. They can also put you at greater risk for having a car accident, injuring yourself or making potentially catastrophic workplace mistakes. Problems such as sleep apnea or insomnia can also increase your risk of heart disorders, stroke and diabetes, conditions that could lead to death.
Most health insurance covers treatment at a sleep clinic, including sleep studies. Insurance will also generally cover typical equipment to treat disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, although an insurer may require documentation that certain equipment, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, are being utilized by the patient.
If you’re not getting the quality of slumber you need, it’s time to do something about it. Your doctor can recommend a sleep clinic where you can get the answers you need and learn what you can do if you have sleep problems.