According to the National Sleep Foundation, as many as 18 million American adults are getting insufficient sleep due to a medical condition called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.
OSA is a common sleep disorder, during which an individual’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted while he or she sleeps. (In fact, “apnea” is derived from the Greek word for “without breath.”) Most people with OSA are unaware that they’ve stopped breathing at night, though their bed partners likely have heard them snoring or gasping for breath as they sleep. These pauses in breathing interrupt the sleep cycle, causing people to stir from an otherwise sound sleep and contributing to a range of other health issues, from daytime sleepiness to elevated blood pressure and an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Men, post-menopausal women and individuals from both genders older than 65 are more likely to experience OSA, though it occurs in all genders, races and ages — even among children. OSA is also common among people who:
- Are overweight
- Have large tonsils or adenoids
- Have a family history of OSA
- Have problems with the jaw, including retrognathia, in which the jaw is pulled back, or micrognathia, in which the jaw is relatively small in size
Common indications that you may have OSA include:
- Snoring, either constant or periodically during the night
- Sounds of gasping or choking while you sleep
- Pauses in breathing that can be observed by someone watching you sleep
- Restlessness during the night
- Waking frequently at night for no obvious reason
- Headaches in the morning
- Daytime sleepiness that can be excessive (falling asleep at work or while driving, for instance), even after sleeping for many hours
- Mood swings due to poor sleep
- Cognitive problems due to poor sleep
Many of these symptoms may not be obvious to an individual with OSA, but might be observed by his or her bed partner. Monitoring an individual’s sleep is the only way to diagnose OSA and begin to work to fix the problem.
In west Georgia, Tanner Health System offers three state-of-the-art sleep centers, the Tanner Center for Sleep Disorders in Villa Rica, the Tanner Center for Sleep Disorders in Carrollton and the Tanner Center for Sleep Disorders at Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama in Wedowee.
The centers are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), offering full-night diagnostic studies (nocturnal polysomnogram, or NPSG), split-night diagnostic and therapeutic studies (NPSG with continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP) and daytime multiple sleep latency tests.
Sleep study rooms at Tanner offer hotel-like amenities, including cable television, beverages, private bathrooms and adjustable beds.
Studies are conducted at night and are monitored by a sleep technologist. Patients are attached to unobtrusive electronic monitoring sensors and asked to watch television or read until they feel relaxed enough to sleep.
The sleep technologist will record video and audio at all times during sleep tests and can communicate with the patient through an intercom. A physician certified in sleep medicine will read the sleep study conducted at the center and will be available to discuss follow-up care.
If you’re facing insufficient sleep no matter how early you go to bed, speak to your physician about ordering a sleep study at the Tanner Center for Sleep Disorders. More information is available by calling 770-812-9146or visiting TannerSleep.org.