The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that as many as 70 million people in the United States have sleep disorders. To meet a significant need in the Birmingham area, Princeton Baptist Medical Center has developed a state-of-the-art Sleep Center to diagnose and treat these serious conditions.
Encompassing about 84 different types of conditions, sleep disorders can vary greatly in manifestations and severity. With symptoms ranging from inability to sleep and breathing problems to uncontrolled movements during sleep, these conditions can cause serious harm to a person’s health and quality of life. Sleep disorder diagnoses are often classified in one of four categories:
Insomnia: a chronic inability to fall asleep or experience deep sleep
Narcolepsy: characterized by falling asleep or feeling extremely fatigued during normal waking hours
Restless legs syndrome (periodic limb movement): characterized by urgent needs to move the legs while awake or asleep, which can cause severe sleep disturbance
Sleep apnea: characterized by breathing stoppages during sleep, causing snoring or choking noises; can be life-threatening
For physicians at the Princeton Baptist Medical Center Sleep Wake Disorder Center, sleep apnea is the most commonly seen sleep disorder, which may be attributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States.
“Sleep apnea is more common in people who are over their ideal body weight for their height and build,” says Stuart Padove, M.D., board-certified sleep specialist and Medical Director of the Princeton Baptist Medical Center Sleep Wake Disorder Center. “For adults who may be dealing with other comorbidities such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, sleep apnea and other disorders can make these conditions worse and more difficult to treat.”
The Forefront of Sleep Medicine
With constant advancement in sleep-medicine training, the team at Princeton Baptist Medical Center Sleep Wake Disorder Center continues to play a major role in helping the Birmingham community sleep soundly.
Two convenient locations — at the Princeton Baptist Professional Building and Baptist Health Center Hoover on Preserve Parkway — allow patients in the community to access solutions to their sleep woes. Princeton has partnered with Princeton Sleep Medicine, LLC to provide board-certified sleep assessments at both locations. Physicians and other specialists at the Sleep Wake Disorder Center undergo regular training to continue to expand their medical expertise.
Princeton has been accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for more than 20 years.
The First Steps in Treatment
The responsibility for initial treatment of sleep disorders lies with primary care physicians, who see their patients on a regular basis and collect a valuable medical history. Patients who report snoring, lack of energy or any trouble sleeping should be further evaluated to determine whether a sleep disorder is present. Any patient with type 2 diabetes or hypertension complaining of sleep problems should be considered for a sleep study immediately.
At Princeton Baptist Medical Center, specialists at the Sleep Wake Disorder Center perform sleep studies to determine the cause of a patient’s sleep problem and find a solution. Board-certified sleep physicians ask patients questions about daily habits, including energy levels, sleeping habits, snoring, falling asleep during activities such as driving or working, and family history of sleep troubles. Physicians also analyze the back of the throat and any thyroid issues or comorbidities the patient may have.
Patients can then be observed during a night’s sleep to evaluate sleep patterns, amounts of restful sleep, breathing and movements. In the Princeton Baptist Medical Center Sleep Wake Disorder Center sleep laboratory, patients rest comfortably while specialists and technicians monitor their EEG and EKG readings, along with various aspects of their behavior, including:
Chin muscle activity
Nasal and oral airflow
“A lot of people do not understand how crucial sleep studies are,” says Steve Sherer, Nursing Director at Princeton Baptist Medical Center. “The signs of a sleep disorder may not be as apparent as those indicating heart disease or diabetes, but sleep disorders may have a devastating effect on health and quality of life.”
Finding Sleep Solutions
As a sleep study is performed, patient observations are recorded in digital files, reaching the equivalent to 1,500 feet of paper. Technicians analyze every 30 seconds of sleep recorded to note any airflow problems or leg movements. Depending on the patient’s symptoms, he or she may be asked to undergo a second night at the sleep lab, where he or she will use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. The CPAP, which allows patients to breathe easier during sleep due to the pressure it exerts on the airways, is the most commonly used device for patients with sleep apnea.
For patients who are seen to benefit from the CPAP, the sleep specialists then write a prescription for the device and advise patients to wear it for as long as possible during sleep. Patients typically benefit from wearing the CPAP mask for at least four hours per night, and preferably for the entire seven or eight hours of a night’s sleep.
Patients in need of treatment options other than the CPAP can sometimes be referred to a dental professional for an oral appliance that opens the nasal valve. In severe cases, patients may need to be consulted for oral facial surgery or bariatric surgery for the obese. In every case, the Princeton Baptist Medical Center Sleep Wake Disorder Center follows up with the patient for as many as six weeks after a sleep study to make sure his or her treatments are proving effective.
“All CPAP devices have built-in monitors to let us know how often patients are using the devices,” says Dr. Padove. “This monitoring allows us to know if the patients are meeting criteria for compliance and if they are benefiting from the treatment.”
Patients with trouble sleeping need a physician referral to undergo a sleep study at Princeton Baptist Medical Center.
For more information or to refer a patient for an appointment at the Princeton Baptist Medical Center Sleep Wake Disorder Center, please call (205) 783-7378.