10:33 AM

Sleeping on It

Sleep Disorders Center studies can reveal hidden conditions such as sleep apnea

Sleep disorders are common but difficult to identify on your own for a simple reason: You’re not fully aware of what transpires while you sleep. Many people experience sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing involuntarily pauses as often as 20 to 30 times per hour, disrupting sleep as brain and body arouse to open airways – often without a person’s knowledge.

Sleep study benefits

A sleep study at a Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) Sleep Disorders Center can help. “We do diagnostic testing and can help manage sleep disorders with appropriate treatment,” says Russ Gasser, supervisor at the Sleep Disorders Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Hazleton (Hayden Tower).

LVHN has Sleep Disorders Centers at LVH–Hazleton, Health Center at Bethlehem Township and LVH–17th Street in Allentown, where sleep study facilities recently were renovated. “We’ve made the rooms more spacious, homey and comfortable,” says LVHN adult sleep operations supervisor Denise Minkoff. A more inviting environment can help you relax and get a better night’s sleep – which results in good quality data about your sleep experience.

When sleep apnea is suspected, you can receive an in-lab overnight (or daytime) sleep study. “Sensors allow us to measure and analyze brain waves, heart rate, breathing, oxygen saturation, leg movements and other factors,” Gasser says. Results are available after the study is completed so your primary care physician or a specialist at a Sleep Disorders Center can evaluate them immediately. Testing at a Sleep Disorders Center can reveal 87 other sleep disorders.

Determining the best therapy

If the sleep study reveals sleep apnea, a specially educated clinician can then perform a titration study. This determines optimal settings for treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that delivers a steady stream of air through a mask worn during sleep. “CPAP is the most common and effective way to treat sleep apnea,” Gasser says. Many patients are furnished with an individually calibrated CPAP device before leaving the Sleep Disorders Center.

At-home sleep testing for obstructive sleep apnea is available through 13 LVHN locations. An in-lab sleep study may be especially useful if you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes or another condition that can play a role in development of sleep apnea. “Helping with sleep apnea often correlates with improvement in these other conditions,” Gasser says.