Sleep Management Centers

Trouble sleeping? Falling asleep at work? If you are one of the 40 million Americans suffering from chronic sleepiness, the Southeast Georgia Health System Sleep Management Centers can help you get a good night's rest.

The Sleep Management Centers offer a multi-disciplinary approach to patient care. Included in the array of experts on staff are registered sleep technologists (Polysomnographer), registered respiratory therapists, lung specialists (Pulmonologist), neurologists and a board-certified sleep specialist.

Types of Sleep Disorders

There are two broad categories of sleep disorders: those that cause excessive daytime sleepiness and those associated with initiating or maintaining sleep. Some disorders may cause both problems. The more common disorders are listed below.

Disorders of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

  • Insufficient sleep syndrome
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Narcolepsy
  • Nocturnal myoclonus
  • Psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression, drug and alcohol-related)

Disorders of Initiating and Maintaining Sleep

  • Central or obstructive sleep apnea
  • Drug and alcohol-related disorders
  • Inadequate sleep hygiene
  • Medical conditions (e.g., asthma, heart failure)
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Psychophysiological insomnia
  • Restless legs syndrome

Recognizing and Diagnosing Sleep Disorders

Recognizing daytime sleepiness may be difficult for patients themselves as they may be accustomed to drowsiness or be unaware of a problem due to sleep fragmentation or low oxygen levels during sleep. Therefore, being aware of the symptoms of sleep disorders is particularly important.

One of the most prevalent sleep disorders is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Breathing is momentarily stopped during sleep because of an obstruction in the breathing passage. This disorder affects between six and 10 million Americans and may cause high blood pressure, stroke, cardiac arrhythmias, depression and mood changes, difficulty losing weight, male impotence and mental impairment. It is often characterized by chronic fatigue and loud snoring. The disorder is treatable with methods such as nasal CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), upper airway surgery and dental devices.

Central Sleep Apnea
(CSA) can be caused by a dysfunction in the thalamus area of the brain and the mechanism that controls breathing, or associated with heart disease.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) is a common sleep disorder which can cause daytime sleepiness or interrupted sleep. It is characterized by frequent movements of a leg or arm during sleep. It may be associated with restless legs syndrome.

Narcolepsy, another sleep disorder, is often marked by symptoms including uncontrollable sleepiness, cataplexy (sudden muscle weakness), sleep paralysis, and hypnogogic hallucinations (hallucinations that occur when drifting off to sleep). Naps tend to be refreshing.

The sleep center's most frequent complaint of those who seek help is excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Adequate sleep is an essential part of good physical and emotional health. EDS may cause daily activities to be less enjoyable, unproductive and unsafe. Sleep disorders account for about 200,000 automobile accidents each year and approximately 50 percent of work-related accidents.

Insomnia, or difficulty sleeping, can have many different causes but is often effectively treated. However, it is important for the cause of the problem to be determined by a trained professional. Insomniacs report higher rates of social, emotional, health and work problems.

Common Causes of Sleep Troubles

  • Exercising or drinking caffeine too close to bedtime
  • Stressful events, such as death, divorce or a new job
  • Some medications can hinder good sleep

Only a trained sleep physician can determine the true cause of your sleep problem and recommend appropriate treatment.

Getting Help

Sleep Studies

Patients who are suspected of having a sleep disorder may undergo polysomnography—a sleep study. Polysomnography is used to diagnose sleep disorders and to help identify the optimum treatment for each individual.

Sleep studies are conducted in the Sleep Lab at Southeast Georgia Health System Brunswick and Camden campuses. The Sleep Lab features comfortable private rooms with private bathrooms— much like a hotel. A sleep study is not invasive, painful or dangerous; patients are simply monitored throughout the night with the use of advanced equipment attached with adhesive electrodes. All bodily functions are monitored simultaneously, including brain, heart, breathing and muscle.

In many cases, one sleep study will be required for diagnosis, and another one for the accurate prescription of treatment.

Treatment Options

Once the cause of a sleep disorder has been identified, treatment can be prescribed that may help increase the amount or quality of one’s sleep.

Among the options are surgery, medication, behavior modification, oral appliances and psychotherapy. Another highly effective and non-invasive treatment— often prescribed for sleep apnea—is continuous positive upper airway pressure, or CPAP. The CPAP device works to maintain pressure in the upper preventing the sporadic closure that characterizes sleep apnea. A sleep study is needed to determine the optimum pressure for each patient.

Regardless of the diagnosis, all treatments are developed and prescribed with consideration of many factors, including the patient’s medical history and functional needs. Since a good night’s sleep is actually an active state and is important for renewing mental and physical health each day—not just “time out” from daily life—the Sleep Management Centers are committed to finding the right treatment for each individual, improving his or her health and overall quality of life.

Before You See the Doctor

Your doctor can help you if you clearly describe your sleep concern. Before speaking with your doctor, think of sleep symptoms that bother you and how often they occur. A sleep diary can help you collect this information. Also, don't wait for your regular checkup or another medical problem to see your doctor. If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, make an appointment to assess the situation. Speak with your family about your sleep habits. You may experience many symptoms that your partner is more aware of than you.