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Common Sleep Questions & Answers

Why is sleep so important?

Everyone has occasional restless nights, but a continuous lack of quality sleep can have adverse effects on several aspects of a person's health. Poor sleep can reduce your ability to learn, think, pay attention to detail, and increase your risk of injury when driving or operating machinery.

Studies show that sleep is essential for your body's physical and mental well-being as well as the proper functioning of your immune system.


How do I know if I should be tested for a sleep disorder?

If you or a loved one has one of the following symptoms, it may be related to a sleep disorder and you should consult a physician:

  • Habitual loud snoring, especially when associated with pauses or snorting
  • Frequent choking for brief periods of time
  • Waking up gasping or short of breath
  • Awakening with a headache
  • Constant sleepiness or falling asleep unintentionally
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • An urge to keep moving the legs at bedtime
  • Unusual behaviors such as sleep walking

Do I need a physician's referral to get tested?

The Baptist Sleep Centers test patients who are referred by a primary care physician or specialist. Most insurance companies do require a referral from a primary care physician. We advise that you contact your health insurance provider for details on your coverage.


Is the sleep study painful?

The sleep study is not painful. You may experience minor discomfort and initially find it difficult to fall asleep. Nevertheless, the majority of patients are able to sleep comfortably throughout the testing. The all-night polysomnogram involves the attaching of electrodes and surface sensors on various parts of the body to monitor movements, breathing and sleep patterns.


Can I bring my own pillow?

You are encouraged to bring whatever will make you feel most comfortable overnight, such as pillows, blankets and a pair of loose-fitting pajamas. In special cases caregivers are permitted to spend the night at the center, but physicians must make arrangements in advance.


How much sleep do I need?

The amount of sleep an individual needs depends on many factors, including a person’s age, state and sleep behaviors.

While infants require up to 16 hours a day of sleep, teenagers usually need about 9 and adults from 7-8. However, some people need as few as 5 or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day to feel fully rested.

Women in the first 3 months of pregnancy often need more hours of sleep than usual.

The amount of sleep people need increases if they have been deprived of sleep for the past few days. Getting little sleep creates what is called a sleep debt, which is much like being overdrawn at the bank. Because our bodies do not adapt to getting less sleep than required, eventually they will demand that the debt be repaid. Although we can get used to being on a sleep-deprived schedule,we cannot avoid the impairment of our judgment, reaction time and other functions.


What is a sleep study?

A sleep study, also known as an all-night polysomnogram, is a recording of several measurements in the body used to identify the different stages of sleep. It is conducted in a private, comfortable room for six to eight hours while the patient sleeps.

The study measures breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, muscle activity and heart rhythm. Muscle activity is monitored by attaching small metal discs (called electrodes) to the head and skin with an adhesive. Elastic belts are placed around the chest and abdomen to measure breathing and a clip is put on the index finger or earlobe to measure blood oxygen saturation. None of these devices are associated with pain and all are designed to be as comfortable as possible.


Results

During the sleep study, a large amount of data is collected, scored and analyzed by a physician specialized in sleep medicine. If applicable, the referring physician will receive a copy of the final report.


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