Excessive sleepiness is a serious problem for millions of Americans who may have trouble staying awake while reading, watching television, at the movies, in meetings, riding in the car or even sitting and carrying on a conversation. There are many common disorders that can carry tiredness as a symptom, and a simple sleep study can, for many, shed some light on the underlying cause of these problems.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is a disorder that affects as many as 20 million Americans. It is much more than just heavy snoring; it can directly lead to strokes, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There have even been studies linking Alzheimer’s with interrupted sleep cycles.
OSA is caused when the breathing passages are blocked, often by your tongue falling back into your mouth and blocking or reducing the airways. Symptoms include choking, gasping, snoring or frequent waking at night, as well as headaches, sleepiness, concentration issues and mood swings during the day. A sleep study can diagnose patients who have breathing problems that keep them from getting a restful night’s sleep and can lead to these greater health problems later on.
Sleep apnea is certainly one of the most common disorders that can be diagnosed by a sleep disorder. Other ailments include teeth grinding, seizures, sleepwalking, restless leg syndrome, nightmares, night terrors and others. Any of these illnesses can result in interrupted sleep cycles, which can not only cause excessive sleepiness, but interfere with the body’s ability to repair itself both physically and mentally from the stresses of the day.
Patients who engage in a sleep study usually spend the night at a sleep clinic. The patient wears comfortable, loose-fitting night clothes and is connected to a monitoring machine with a series of electrodes. The process of getting ready for the study is designed to be rather long and tiring, which aids in the patient’s ability to sleep.
While sleeping, the patient is carefully observed for any sleep issues, from full wakefulness to minor interruptions in breathing to tossing and turning or snoring. The electrodes monitor breathing, heart, oxygen levels, pulse, nasal pressure and general airflow. This data allows the doctor to fully diagnose any sleep disorders you may be suffering from.
For those who cannot undertake a sleep study at a clinic, there are at-home options available. Your home study will often confirm that you should visit a professional sleep doctor for further evaluation.
If you are experiencing any of the signs of excessive sleepiness, mood issues, lack of concentration, headaches or the like, a sleep study might help you. For more information, please feel free to call our office to set up an appointment for evaluation today!