Diagnosing sleep disorders can prevent other conditions or possible injury

Published: Apr. 12, 2019 at 8:37 PM MDT
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Sleep is essential for good health. However, millions of people suffer with some type of disorder that prevents them from having a good night's sleep.

Often, the symptoms of a sleep disorder go unrecognized and untreated.

Without help, an individual's quality of life can suffer, possibly leading to other medical conditions or even an injury.

"There’s a lot of different sleep disorders out there," said Cody Ehrmantraut, polysomnigraphic tech.

One of the most common disorders is sleep apnea.

"There’s a lot of soft tissue that's along our airway and as that soft tissue relaxes with sleep, of course, obstruction here is going to cause our oxygen levels to change," he said.

At the St. Luke's Magic Valley Sleep Institute, they typically screen for this disorder.

"Usually people surprise themselves and sleep surprisingly well in here,” said Ehrmantraut. “We can get enough information to either rule out or diagnose sleep apnea based on very little sleep."

Snoring could be a sign, and if you're over the age of 55 it's more common.

"The way muscles change, people are more likely to develop sleep apnea after the age of 55," he said.

The size of your neck could be a factor as well.

"Some sleep specialists will also have their patients reach around their neck, touching their thumb and index finger, and if they can’t do that, the indication is you probably have sleep apnea," said Ehrmantraut.

A CPAP machine can help relieve the disorder.

"CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure,” he said. “With obstructive sleep apnea, the goal with CPAP is to keep the airway nice and open which in turn can help regulate people's oxygen levels."

You might even sleep better with it than you think.

"For some people it can be a short amount of time of just tolerance building and it usually goes from something of ‘I don't know if I can sleep with this,’ to ‘I don't know if I can sleep without it,’" said Ehrmantraut.

But if you're not sleeping well at night, and think you don't have sleep apnea, maybe think about those screens you look at so often.

"Screens are terrible for our sleep and our suggestion is that you limit screen use,” he said. “Basically put away screens, turn off televisions, and don’t stare at a laptop or a tablet two hours prior to attempting to fall asleep”

St. Luke's Magic Valley Sleep Institute is dedicated to diagnosing and treating a variety of sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome. Through an evaluation and sleep study, the physicians and technicians could identify the cause of your sleep trouble, and develop a customized treatment plan.

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