For millions of Americans, getting adequate sleep or staying awake during the day is a constant challenge. In fact, 35 percent of the population complains of difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep.
Sleep disorders can cause daytime fatigue, irritability, and listlessness — conditions that lead to a variety of problems at work and home. Other factors — such as illness, stress, and injury — can alter sleep patterns.
Sleep disorder medicine is a recognized specialty. It has developed in response to the growing recognition of the enormous medical, economic, and social impact of disturbed sleep upon healthy functioning.
The multidisciplinary team at the UPMC Horizon Sleep Center provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment of various disorders, including:
- Sleep apnea
- Hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness)
- Nocturnal myoclonus
- Restless leg syndrome
You or your physician can request an initial evaluation at the center by contacting the UPMC Horizon Sleep Center at 724-347-5337. The evaluation includes a medical history, sleep history, and brief physical examination to determine if any medical problem exists.
Some sleep problems can be identified at this time, through evaluation alone; others may require diagnostic testing. Referral to medical specialists — including experts in pulmonary medicine or ear, nose, and throat medicine — may be recommended following the evaluation.
Diagnostic Testing at the Center
Various sleep problems require a sleep study or polysomnogram. For clinicians to make a polysomnogram, a patient stays overnight in a comfortable private room while monitors continuously evaluate sleep patterns, brain waves, eye movements, breathing effort, heart rhythms, oxygen levels, and leg muscle movements.
The information obtained is necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment. Patients are asked to report to the center at 9 p.m. the evening of the sleep study to prepare for the test. A specially trained polysomnographic technologist is present for the duration of the testing. Following discussion of the results, patients may leave the next morning to return to their normal daytime activity.
A multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) is administered to those patients complaining of excessive daytime sleepiness. It is most helpful in the diagnosis of narcolepsy. This test, consisting of four naps taken every two hours, is conducted to determine the amount of time a patients needs to fall asleep and the type of sleep the patient experiences.
All patients receive an individualized treatment program. Some problems may simply require adjusting sleep habits or reducing stress.
Sleep apnea can be treated with various methods, including weight loss, medication, or more commonly, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which provides a steady airway pressure through a nasal mask to prevent the throat from closing off during sleep.
In some sleep apnea cases, surgery may be recommended
Sleep studies are accepted medical procedures whose cost most insurance carriers cover. However, because it is impossible to predict the extent of your coverage, it is strongly recommended that you contact your insurance company representative for information before undergoing any tests or procedures.