For years, Kenneth Carrell would snore loudly and wake up throughout the night in a panic because he couldn’t breathe.
About a year and a half ago, he visited the emergency department at Mercy Hospital Ada to receive treatment for walking pneumonia. The team at Mercy referred him to Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed, a pulmonology, sleep medicine and critical care specialist at Mercy in Ada.
Ahmed diagnosed Carrell with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and ordered a sleep study, which is a test that records what happens to a person’s body during sleep to determine if there are any irregularities in breathing patterns, movements and the stages of sleep that may make it difficult to sleep soundly.
Carrell’s test results indicated that he has a common sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea, which causes people to stop breathing for at least 10 seconds at a time while sleeping. Since this diagnosis, he has used a bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine each night, which pumps oxygen into the lungs through a mask while sleeping.
“It has made a big difference,” said Carrell. “I have more energy in the morning and sleep better at night. I actually feel like I got a restful sleep.”
Sleep Disorders: A Growing Trend
The American Sleep Association estimates that about 40 million Americans suffer from long-term sleep disorders annually and about 20 million Americans have occasional sleeping problems.
Insufficient sleep is linked to several chronic conditions, including obesity, depression, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. People who do not get enough sleep are also at a higher risk for vehicle and machine-related accidents.
Ada resident Pat Jarrett-Briley believes her congestive heart failure (CHF), which was diagnosed 16 years ago, could have been prevented if she was treated for her underlying sleep disorder prior to developing the heart condition.
After her CHF diagnosis, a sleep study indicated that she had obstructive sleep apnea. She’s been on a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine ever since and said she cannot sleep without it.
About Mercy’s Sleep Services
For several years, Mercy has offered sleep medicine services through an outside company at Mercy Hospital Ada. In September, Mercy took over the ownership and management of the Mercy Sleep Center in Ada.
Lisa Ferguson, manager of the Mercy Sleep Center, and her team provide comprehensive sleep studies for adult patients in two sleep rooms at the hospital and through in-home monitoring.
Sleep studies evaluate patients for different forms of sleep apnea; excessive snoring; problems staying awake (narcolepsy); problems sleeping at night (insomnia); nighttime behaviors, including sleepwalking, night terrors or bedwetting; difficulty sleeping during the day due to an alternate work schedule; and repeated muscle twitching or movements of the feet, arms or legs during sleep (periodic limb movement disorders or restless legs syndrome).
Patients seeking a sleep study at the hospital are hooked up to monitors and can adjust the Sleep Number® bed to their desired comfort level. A technician watches the monitors throughout the night as the patient sleeps. Within a few days, a sleep medicine physician, like Ahmed, will review the findings to determine whether the patient has a sleep disorder.
A home sleep study is a convenient option for patients who likely have obstructive sleep apnea. For the in-home study, a patient goes to the hospital to get the small device hooked up and returns home to sleep in their own bed. The patient returns the device to the hospital the next day so the sleep medicine specialist can assess the results, which are stored in the device.
For sleep apnea, doctors may recommend BIPAP or CPAP machines to ensure patients receive a proper amount of oxygen throughout the night. The staff at Mercy Sleep Center fit patients with the right masks so they can comfortably sleep at night.
In some mild or moderate sleep apnea cases, a dentist or oral surgeon may create a device that patients wear in their mouths to move the lower jaw forward, which opens their airways, prevents snoring and improves breathing while asleep.
Both Carrell and Jarrett-Briley highly recommend seeking a sleep study and are happy the services are available close to home at Mercy Hospital Ada. They religiously use their breathing machines, which have made a significant impact in their lives.
“If I go somewhere and I don’t have my BiPAP, I don’t sleep,” said Carrell. “It makes such a big difference.”
When to See a Doctor
If you struggle to get quality sleep and often wake up feeling groggy, grumpy or are unable to concentrate, you may be a good candidate for a sleep study, which can address issues with falling asleep, staying asleep, snoring, breathing while sleeping, daytime sleepiness and other sleep disruptions.
“For many patients with a sleep disorder, they are so fatigued that they don’t exercise and get into a vicious cycle where they gain weight and keep gaining weight until a bad outcome happens, like a stroke or heart attack,” said Ahmed. “Early identification and screening for a sleep disorder is very important.”
Participation in a sleep study at Mercy Hospital Ada requires a referral by a physician or provider. For more information, contact the Mercy Sleep Center at 580-421-1154.