Providence Everett’s Sleep Medicine clinic encourages the community to seek a better night’s sleep to aid in cardiac health, weight management, and general wellness.
EVERETT — It’s 7 a.m., your alarm sounds, and you’ve awakened exhausted — again. The tossing and turning, getting up throughout the night, and loud snoring are what sleep experts term “the things that go bump in the night,” and this flurry of activity causing long-term sleep deprivation can lead to increased injuries, cognitive impairment, cardiac issues, chronic diseases like depression and obesity, and poor quality of life. According to a CDC report, 70 million Americans experience chronic sleep issues that are rarely addressed.
“Sleep is an important aspect of our health. Sleep is more important than people give it credit for and the sleep lab can help answer a number of health questions,” says Matthew Bohl, manager of Providence’s Sleep Medicine clinic.
Around 31 percent of Washington residents suffer from short sleep — referring to a prevalence of less than 7 hours of sleep a night. The ability to consistently run off of a few hours of sleep a night might seem like a superpower, but it can lead to major health and safety issues. For instance, short sleep can lead to a slowed metabolism, increase in cortisol levels, drowsy driving, poor control of diabetes, and depression.
Moreover, sleep apnea — a sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night — can be serious enough to cause cardiac arrest. Sleep apnea is the most commonly treated sleep disorder, affecting more than 22 million Americans, and is caused by an obstruction of the airway in the back of the throat during sleep. Sleep apnea is more common in men over the age of 40 who snore and in menopausal women. Sleep apnea can even affect children and children can receive testing as early as 4 years old. Also, although sleep deprivation can contribute to obesity, weight is not always a determinant of whether someone has sleep apnea. “I’ve seen young, athletic men with sleep apnea and overweight patients without sleep apnea,” says Bohl.
So, when should you visit the Sleep Medicine clinic? Bohl says there are several reasons why someone should talk to their doctor about seeking a sleep consultation and sleep study:
- Despite the number of hours you sleep each night, you still feel tired, fall asleep while driving, or fall asleep at all hours of the day.
- Comments or complaints about your snoring, and/or you stop breathing during sleep.
- You have cardiac problems like arrythmias (irregular heartbeat) or high blood pressure, particularly if it is difficult to control.
- If you are pre-diabetic, newly diagnosed with diabetes, or having a difficult time controlling your diabetes.
- Had a stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) — sometimes called a “mini stroke.”
For those who are still unsure about their individual sleep health, Bohl suggests taking the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and the Stop-Bang test for obstructive sleep apnea to determine if someone is experiencing excessive sleepiness that might require medical attention.
Providence Everett’s Sleep Medicine clinic is the only hospital-based sleep lab in Snohomish County accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The clinic treats the nearly 250 known sleep disorders keeping people up at night (and sleepy all day). The staff are experts in diagnosing sleep disorders and provide services for treating rare and common sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy. They also diagnose breathing, heart, stress, or other conditions making it difficult for you to obtain restful, restorative sleep.