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Sleep Medicine

People who experience more than an occasional sleepless night know that lack of sleep is a serious problem and requires specialized attention. The Sleep Center at Greenwich Hospital, nationally accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, provides help to people of all ages who suffer from sleep problems.

Sleep disorders affect young children and adolescents, too. As many as one out of three elementary school children may suffer from sleep problems at some time in their lives. Yet many go undiagnosed.

The staff of the Sleep Center gives individualized attention to every patient. Whether it’s scheduling appointments for the convenience of the patient, explaining test results and insuring proper follow up, or helping them understand insurance benefits, our Sleep Center staff is available every step of the way.

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Additional Information

Symptoms related to sleep disorders

Snoring by itself, even loud snoring, does not mean you have sleep apnea. However, if you have ever fallen asleep against your will, or if you or your bedmate answer “yes” to several of the following questions, consult your physician for further diagnosis.

Do you frequently…

  • Wake up groggy or tired in the morning, no matter how many hours you slept?
  • Wake up startled, gasping for air, or with your heart pounding?
  • Have morning headaches?
  • Experience uncontrollable sleepiness at inappropriate moments, while driving your car, at meals, at an important meeting, or consistently in front of the TV?
  • Perform poorly at work? Feel as if you are not as sharp?
  • Have trouble concentrating or remembering?
  • Suffer from high blood pressure?
  • Experience loss of interest in sex?
  • Feel irritable or display unprovoked outbursts of temper?

Does your bedmate…

  • Snore very loudly?
  • Flail arms and legs during the night?
  • Have difficulty getting air in and out of the nose or mouth?
  • Appear to be struggling or choking?
  • Wake up startled?
  • Seem to stop breathing during the night?

Types of Sleep Disorders

Following are just a few of the many conditions and problems that are considered sleep disorders:

  • Insomnia. Having trouble falling or staying asleep.
  • Sleep Apnea. A serious condition that causes a person to intermittently stop breathing during the night.
  • Narcolepsy. A neurological disorder characterized by an uncontrollable need to sleep, regardless of the time of day or the situation.
  • Restless Legs. Jumpy, uncomfortable feelings in the legs that interfere with sleep.
  • Abnormal Sleep Behaviors. Moving, talking or walking while sleeping.
  • Sleep Terrors. Terrifying episodes that cause the sleeper to suddenly awaken during the night.
  • Nightmares. Long, frightening dreams that occur frequently, disrupting sleep.
  • Psychological Conditions. Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, may cause an individual to sleep too much or too little.

Diagnosing Sleep Disorders

To help diagnose a sleep disorder, patients are usually observed overnight in the hospital. For some patients with obstructive sleep apnea, a home sleeping test (HST) may be performed in the comfort of the patient’s own bed.

Overnight In-hospital Study

Patients arrive at the Sleep Center in the evening. We provide a comfortable private room in a quiet setting to encourage as normal a sleeping pattern as possible.

The Center uses advanced technology called “polysomnography” to evaluate important body functioning during sleep. Patients are connected to devices that monitor heart rhythm, brain waves and muscle activity, eye movement, oxygen levels and breathing. A closed circuit camera allows the technologist to watch over the patient throughout the night.

In the morning, patients may leave as soon as the test is completed. The data is processed by a computer and analyzed. The results are forwarded to the patient’s physician with recommendations for follow-up treatment. The time it takes to solve sleep problems varies with each person and their individual condition.

Home Sleep Testing

HST is performed with a portable device that measures the patient’s breathing while they sleep in their own bed. Data is collected and stored in the unit until it is downloaded at the Sleep Center the following day.

Patients ages 18 and over who qualify for HST receive instructions at the Sleep Center on how to operate the equipment. It comes in a lightweight kit made up of two fabric belts for the chest and abdomen, an airflow sensor for under the nose and a pulse sensor for one finger.

The next morning the patient returns to the Center with the equipment. The recorded data is imported into the Sleep Center’s computers where it is analyzed.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea can be dangerous if untreated. Those who have it are at greater risk of high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. Being overweight can increase the chances of developing sleep apnea. Although successful treatment depends on the individual, several methods are typically used:

  • Behavioral modification. For mild cases, patients may find relief from a program of weight loss and exercise, sleeping on their side (instead of on the back or stomach), or avoiding alcohol.
  • CPAP. This acronym stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It is a device that applies continuous air pressure through a small mask worn over the nose. The air holds the airway open so that breathing is not interrupted.
  • Dental Devices. These may be helpful to treat snoring and mild sleep apnea.
  • Surgery. Several surgical techniques are available, but this option is not for everyone.

The Sleep Center Staff

All of our specialists are board certified in sleep disorders.

Sleep Technologists: These registered respiratory therapists are specially licensed and trained to monitor advanced equipment used to diagnose specific sleep disorders.

Other Specialists: Treatment of many sleep problems often requires the assistance of neurologists, other medical and surgical specialists. The Sleep Center’s location within Greenwich Hospital makes it easy for patients to access additional services.

Yale School of Medicine

Yale New Haven Health is proud to be affiliated with the prestigious Yale University and its highly ranked Yale School of Medicine.