Congratulations on taking the first steps to help educate yourself on the importance of sleep! You or someone you know may have trouble sleeping or may have common symptoms of an untreated sleep disorder.
Although the exact purpose of sleep is only partly clear, we do know that regular sleep is essential for mental, emotional & physical health. Sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages. The three broad categories of sleep problems include:
- Insufficient Sleep: This results from imposed or self-imposed lifestyles and work schedules. Many children, adolescents, and adults regularly fail to get sufficient sleep to function effectively during waking hours.
- Primary Sleep Disorders: More than 70 types of sleep disorders chronically affect people of all ages. Fifty percent or more of patients remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
- Secondary Sleep Disorders: People having a chronic disease associated with pain or infection, a neurological or psychiatric disorder, or an alcohol or substance abuse disorder often experience poor sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness.
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It is essential to pursue diagnosing a probable sleep disorder so that treatment can be implemented as soon as possible.
The consequences of not treating a sleep disorder are:
A 3 fold increase in mortality rate for patients with untreated sleep disorders
A 10 fold increase in motor vehicle accidents
Increase in heart disease & stroke
Decreased quality of life if persistently tired & fatigued
Decrease in cognitive function: memory, concentration and attention span.
Disturbance of bed partners sleep
There are many different sleep disorders that can affect ones sleep; both physiological and/or psychological disorders. A sleep study will diagnose or rule out different sleep disorders, and will help you get on the right track to better quality sleep.
Sleep Apnea is a disorder that causes people to frequently “stop breathing” while sleeping. People who suffer from sleep apnea stop breathing many times during their sleep. When their breathing is restored, there is a “micro-wakeup” called an arousal. As a result of this arousal, sleep is interrupted many times during the night; however, since this occurs during sleep, patients are not aware of these brief interruptions.
Yes. As mentioned previously, if left untreated, sleep apnea and other physiological sleep disorders increase your risk for heart problems and stroke. It can also lead to:
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Decreased performance at work
Increased possibility of accidents while driving or operating heavy equipment
Lack of concentration
Impaired sexual function
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common form of the disorder. During sleep, the throat muscles, behind the tongue, collapse causing restriction of airflow in and out of the lungs.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) results from the brain not signaling you to breathe during sleep. In a sense, the brain “forgets” to breathe during sleep. This is a very rare phenomenon.
Mixed Sleep Apnea (MSA) is a combination of both OSA and CSA.
Many people who have sleep apnea don’t know that they have it. Often a family member or bed partner will notice the signs of sleep apnea i.e., snoring and cessation of breathing.
Loss of Energy
Irritability, short temper
Anxiety or depression
Falling asleep during the day at work, while watching TV, listening to lectures, reading
Loud snoring interrupted by silence and then gasps
Falling asleep while driving
Mood or behavior changes
Decreased interest in sex
Talk to your doctor. If he or she suspects that you have sleep apnea, you will be referred to us to have a sleep test to confirm this diagnosis. We at the Contra Costa Sleep Center are dedicated to providing quality care to our patients. We provide services to a diverse population: adults, geriatric patients and children.
Upon receipt of your referral, we will check your insurance benefits and obtain authorization, if required. You will then be scheduled for an overnight sleep study, meaning that you will come into the sleep center and spend the night.
During your sleep study, you will be observed as you sleep. Specially trained technologists will record data pertaining to your sleep and breathing. Your data will then be scored and interpreted by one of our sleep specialists.
Within 5-10 working days, you and your physician will receive the results of your study, along with specific recommendations for therapy.
Sleep apnea is a correctable problem.
The most commonly prescribed and effective treatment is CPAP therapy.
In some cases a dental appliance may be considered as an alternative treatment for your sleep disorder.
Not long ago, surgery was thought to be the best way to treat sleep apnea. In some cases surgery may still be necessary, but most patients can be treated successfully through other means of therapy.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – air is delivered at a low pressure, applied via a mask over the nose. This pressure prevents structures in your throat from collapsing and causing restriction of airflow in and out of your lungs while you sleep. You will experience almost immediate relief from your symptoms by using CPAP therapy.
If CPAP is recommended for you, you will receive a prescription from your physician and will schedule an appointment with a Durable Medical Equipment (DME) company that provides the CPAP Equipment. They will set you up with a mask interface that suits your needs and comfort level, and they will instruct you on how to use the therapy to help get you on the path to a restful nights sleep.
Discuss treatment options with your physician. With proper treatment, sleep apnea sufferers can lead normal lives!
Avoid alcohol, especially close to bedtime
Take medications with caution, especially sleeping pills; some can depress breathing and can make sleep apnea worse.