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Sleep apnea situation for sleep clinic
He may be sleeping like a baby but he's snoring like a bear, and it's no laughing matter for his spouse or his own health.

Mon, Aug 26, 2019 at 04:20 PM

Open day and night to help patients sleep better

Marshall Sleep Disorders Center treats a wide range of sleep-related issues, which can range from minor to life-threatening if not addressed properly.

Many things keep people up at night. Rather than counting sheep to pass sleepless nights, an overnight stay at the Marshall Sleep Disorders Center can help identify the problem, pinpoint a solution and send you on your way to sweet dreams.  

The center’s director gets a lot of satisfaction from the work because improving sleep for patients means giving them a better quality of life.

“It is rewarding,” said Sleep Disorders Center Director Amy Sampson. ”Sleep is important. We take it for granted until we don’t get it.”

Many patients turn to the Sleep Center because of snoring. Sampson is adamant that snoring isn’t something to joke about; it is an indication that something is wrong. It means the person should talk to his or her doctor. 

“It’s not really a laughing matter,” she said.

Snoring usually indicates sleep apnea. By far the most common sleep disorder treated at the center is obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder. It occurs when the throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airway during sleep. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring. 

Another kind of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, which occurs when the brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. It differs from obstructive sleep apnea, which prevents normal breathing because of upper airway obstruction. Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep study is key to diagnosis

To diagnose these conditions, a doctor may prescribe a sleep study. The Marshall Sleep Disorders Center conducts sleep studies six nights a week, and can accommodate third-shift workers during the day. The center is set up with six sleep rooms that resemble home bedrooms as closely as possible. Each room has its own bathroom with a shower. People can get up in the morning and get ready for work, just as they do at home. 

“There is no reason patients should ever have to take off work for a sleep study,” Sampson says. 

Once a study is scheduled, a patient comes in before bedtime. Sleep techs attach equipment to monitor the heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements and blood oxygen levels during sleep. Called polysomnography, a sleep study can help your doctor diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, as well as rule out other sleep disorders that can cause excessive daytime sleepiness but require different treatments, such as leg movements during sleep (periodic limb movements) or sudden bouts of sleep during the day (narcolepsy).

If obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed, positive airway pressure likely is recommended. A machine delivers air pressure through a piece that fits into the nose or over the nose and mouth while you sleep. Positive airway pressure reduces the number of respiratory events that occur as you sleep, reduces daytime sleepiness and improves quality of life.

The most common type is called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. With this treatment, the pressure of the air breathed is constant and somewhat greater than that of the surrounding air, which is just enough to keep your upper airway passages open. This air pressure prevents obstructive sleep apnea and snoring.

CPAP therapy is better today

Although CPAP is the most consistently successful and most commonly used method of treating obstructive sleep apnea, some people find the mask cumbersome, uncomfortable or the machine loud. However, newer machines are smaller and less noisy than older machines and there are a variety of mask designs for individual comfort.

Also, with some practice, most people learn to adjust the mask to obtain a comfortable and secure fit. Patients may need to try different types to find a suitable mask. Several options are available, such as nasal masks, nasal pillows or face masks.

Other sleep disorders include:
• REM behavior disorder
• Sleepwalking or talking
• Central sleep apnea
• Narcolepsy

The Marshall Sleep Disorders Center has five physicians, four of whom are board certified in Sleep Medicine:
• Dr. Christopher Manganaris
• Dr. Jenna Carpenter
• Dr. Alvin Tenchavez
• Dr. Alex Nixon
• Dr. Michael Watts

Marshall Sleep Disorders Center employs 12 sleep techs, eight of whom are registered sleep techs. That means they are certified by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists as fully competent to work in the field of sleep studies. The Sleep Center also serves as a clinical site for Wallace State Community College polysomnography students, who are required to earn clinical hours. They work hands-on in the Sleep Center alongside the sleep techs. 

“It helps us and it helps them,” Sampson said. 

The Sleep Disorders Center opened in 1995 as a 2-bed clinic.  It moved in 2000 to its current location at Marshall Professional center as a 4-bed sleep center.  In 2005, the sleep center went to its current 6-bed capacity.  In 2006, additional physicians were trained specifically for sleep medicine and joined the staff of Marshall Sleep Disorders center. 

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For more information, please call 256.894.6850 or visit the Sleep Center web page.

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