What are Sleep Disorders?
Sleep disorders blight the lives of many people and their partners. Heavy snoring for example, can cause relationships to break down, while daytime sleepiness can affect your ability to study or work (and may also be a major contributor to other health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease).
If you think you may suffer from a sleep disorder, a sleep study carried out by the Sleep Unit at the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth can determine the best treatment plan.
What is sleep apnoea?
In some cases daytime sleepiness is caused by not getting enough sleep, but it may also be due to an intrinsic sleep disorder known as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). This is where breathing is interrupted by a reduction in airflow despite respiratory effort; this is due to relaxation in the muscle tone at the back of the throat and upper airway. This disrupts sleep and causes tiredness during the day which can also cause weight gain.
What can be done about it?
Recent advances in the identification and treatment of sleep apnoea have improved the quality of life for millions of people. Sometimes a simple change in lifestyle can help (losing weight, for example). In many cases treatment with Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) is the most widely advocated and effective treatment for OSA. It is a machine that supports the airways throughout the night, significantly reduces snoring and sleep disruption caused by OSA. Doctors work out what is most appropriate for each person from the results of a sleep study.
The Sleep Study
Sleep studies aim to diagnose Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB), and may be used to exclude OSA. They are used to assess breathing throughout the night via a range of measurements including airflow, snoring levels, oxygen levels, heart rate, muscle effort and body position. This can all be fitted in the clinic, then worn overnight at home in the comfort of your own bed
What happens next?
Based on the results of the sleep study, the Consultant in sleep medicine will recommend that you are either:
- Referred for dietary advice, or
- Referred for CPAP trial
A report will be sent to your GP with an explanation of the appropriate treatment options. Alternatively, a follow-up appointment with the Consultant can be arranged.
Who provides the service?
The Sleep Unit is run by a team of Clinical Physiologists, who have been specifically trained to carry out sleep studies, analyse results, fit and adjust CPAP masks and pressures. They are supported by a Consultant in Sleep and Thoracic Medicine who reports the studies.
Who should seek help?
- People whose snoring is so bad that it is affecting their relationship with their partner.
- People who snore and wake up feeling more tired than when they went to bed.
- People who suffer from daytime sleepiness.
Sometimes people with an existing condition such as hypertension or heart disease are referred for sleep study if their GP suspects that sleep apnoea might be making their condition worse.
Paying for your Sleep Study
Your own GP or specialist may request a sleep study on your behalf. Alternatively, you may choose to have an initial consultation with a specialist.
If appropriate, you will be referred for a sleep study.
Please note that some insurance companies may not cover the cost of this treatment.