BERRYVILLE, Ark.—When Carroll County Coroner Larry Sanders spent the night at Mercy Hospital Berryville, it was a visit he says should’ve happened a long time ago. “The question wasn’t whether I had sleep apnea. I knew I did. The question was just how bad it was.”
It didn’t take long to find out. Sanders says an hour after he fell asleep, the sleep tech woke him. As a registered polysomnographic technologist, she’d been watching him closely, and knew he’d already stopped breathing more than 150 times. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sleep apnea is an interruption of regular breathing or an obstruction of the airway during sleep. It is linked to serious health problems, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.
Immediately after Sander’s sleep study, he was fitted for a pressurized air mask to wear while he slept. The results were immediate. “It’s unbelievable the difference it’s made in how long I sleep. Before, I was getting up five or six times a night. Now I can sleep straight through. I feel so much more energetic. Now I wake up and I’m 100-percent better than I used to be. Plus, I’m diabetic and it’s helped my blood sugar.”
The Sleep Center at Mercy Hospital Berryville opened in April 2002, and has just received a five year renewal of its accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). It’s one of only three accredited centers in northwest Arkansas. Dr. Blake Little is the medical director, and says the two beds in the facility have helped hundreds. “Prior to the opening of the Sleep Center, patients had to drive about two hours for this service. Now, they have the convenience of quality sleep care right here at home.”
Sanders says he wouldn’t have traveled to a bigger city for the sleep study. “I just wouldn’t have done it, so it’s a good thing I could get it done here in Berryville, or I’d still be putting it off.”