By Tinka Davi
Chief of Snooze News
World Sleep Foundation
There’s more to sleep than just getting a few hours of ZZZZZs. Sleep should be uninterrupted and restful. Proper sleep promotes health and wellness. People who sleep well, live well. They wake up refreshed and raring to go through the day.
Those who experience sleep problems or who have a sleep disorder probably need further examination. Improper, unhealthy sleep and sleep deprivation are linked to major medical problems including heart disease, depression, obesity and lower life expectancy.
The Standard University Sleep Disorders Clinic, the first-ever medical clinic that was established to study and specialize in sleep disorders, reports that 70 million people suffer from chronic, severe sleep disorders in the United States alone. They may have difficulty sleeping during the night, experience excessive daytime sleepiness or have other medical issues that occur or be exacerbated during sleep.
Sleep experts in the UK say that “one in four adults walks around like zombies feeling like death warmed up as a result of disturbed sleep,” according to Raconteur published in The Times last year.
That’s supported by a BBC Science report which says that “25 percent of the UK population suffers from some a sleep disorder that results in excessive daytime sleepiness.”
Popping a pill isn’t the remedy. People who suffer from sleep disorders need to see a sleep specialist and probably need to spend a day or night in a sleep clinic or sleep centre. Sleep physicians and sleep specialists are licensed, trained and Board-Certified in Sleep Medicine and they exclusively treat sleep disorders.
There are more than 100 different sleep disorders which is why an accurate diagnosis is the key to successfully treatment. And there may be several choices available for some disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, according to the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine.
Sleep physicians at the Sleep Clinics of America (SCA) are fully engaged in comprehensive sleep care and are updated with evolving data-driven patient care algorithms.
In the UK, sleep centres (or sleep clinics) are the facilities where sleep disorders are monitored. Patients usually spend the day or night in the centre where various tests are performed depending on the sleep disorder.
The idea of going into a centre for sleep investigations may seem daunting but care will be taken to make patients feel comfortable and often tests will be conducted in bedroom-like rooms. They may be asked to spend a day and night in the sleep centre depending on the kind of tests that are needed. These tests are painless and people should feel relaxed.
The Papworth Respiratory Support and Sleep Centre (RSSC) is the largest and only sleep centre in the UK that is formally accredited by the British and European sleep societies. It offers diagnostic tests and treatments for a range of sleep disorders, with several sleep clinics held each week. “Over 10,000 patients with obstructive sleep apnoeas are currently treated with nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) systems and the centre cares for over 300 patients with narcolepsy and large numbers with unusual behaviours during sleep.”
Conditions treated at the Stanford Clinic include Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) which occurs when a person stops breathing during periods of sleep, usually a result of an obstruction or blockage in the airway. Another is Snoring which is caused by the obstruction of air into the lungs. “The ‘extra’ air gets redirected into the mouth, creating a vibration of the soft tissue of the palate.” Still another treatment is for Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS), a condition where the upper airway is reduced during sleep. That results in disturbed sleep and can lead snoring, cause daytime sleepiness, cognitive impairment, unrefreshed sleep and frequent wakefulness from sleep.
Those who are experiencing any sort of sleep difficulty should check with their physician and request a referral to a sleep specialist. Sleep problems can best be observed, diagnosed and treated by specialists in a sleep clinic or sleep centre setting.