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We at the MetroHealth Center for Sleep Medicine are dedicated to helping you find your way to high-quality, restful, healthy sleep. We’ve put together a list and answered common questions about sleep health, noting the ways that our providers can work with you on your individual needs. 

Q: Why is sleep important?

A: Sleep is vital to your health — as important, in fact, as eating and breathing. Getting enough quality sleep can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety. Too little sleep can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. Dr. Dennis Auckley, MD, Director of Center for Sleep Medicine at MetroHealth, says that the chance of early death associated with severe sleep apnea is actually higher than the risk of death from breast or prostate cancer and can increase your risk for heart problems as much as smoking. 

Q: When should I speak to my doctor about my sleep?

A: If you have any of these symptoms, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a professional to evaluate your sleep:

  • Excessive snoring that keeps you or your partner awake
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or waking too early
  • Not feeling rested despite a full night’s sleep
  • Sleepwalking, or other abnormal behaviors during sleep
  • Unusual sensations in the legs or other muscles when trying to relax or sleep
  • Anything else that consistently or chronically affects good quality sleep

Q: When should I worry about snoring?

A: Snoring can be a problem when it’s waking you up or keeping your partner awake. It is especially concerning if you stop breathing while you sleep, which could be an indicator of sleep apnea.

Q: What can I expect during a sleep study?

A: Before your first visit, you will be given a sleep questionnaire to complete. More information and testing may be needed to determine the type of test that is best for your sleep problem (polysomnogram or home sleep study).

If your provider orders a polysomnogram, we will ask you to come to one of our sleep laboratory locations. You sleep overnight in a private room while we record your nighttime sleep patterns. To do this, our technicians attach electrodes to your head and body to monitor brain waves, muscle movements, breathing, snoring, and heart rate. Soft belts around your chest and waist monitor breathing. A sensor attached to your finger keeps track of heart rate and blood oxygen levels. A video camera is used to determine your sleeping position and body movements. 

If necessary, a technician may wake you up during the night and ask you to wear a mask covering your nose and/or mouth to deliver continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This may help with your breathing while you sleep. 

For some individuals, a more limited sleep study that can be performed at home can be offered.

During the follow-up appointment, your sleep medicine provider will discuss any test findings and next steps. These could include a variety of treatment options, depending on your condition, ranging from:

  • Counseling / improving your sleep hygiene
  • Snoring remedies
  • Medications
  • Surgery
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine

Q: Are sleep studies safe?

A: Yes, both home sleep studies and sleep studies performed in a lab are safe. If an at-home sleep study is recommended, MetroHealth offers equipment that you can take home for the night and bring back the next day. In-lab sleep studies are safe, even during COVID-19. We offer sleep studies at our Main Campus and at hotels in two convenient locations across Cuyahoga County. We take the following precautions to keep you safe during a sleep study:

  • Cleaning and Sanitizing: we are treating hotel room as if they’re hospital spaces; we clean every surface with hospital-grade cleaning before and after every sleep study
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): our staff wear appropriate PPE during all patient interactions
  • Private rooms: all sleep study rooms are private with minimal staff contact throughout the night
  • Social distancing: during check in and check out, we maintain social distancing guidelines

Q: Are sleep studies covered by insurance?

A: Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance plans cover sleep studies and sleep disorder treatment. If you’re wondering about your insurance coverage, we can help. Our team can work with you to check your coverage.

With a simple sleep study, we can pinpoint the cause of your sleep disruptions and make recommendations for a personalized treatment plan. 

Register today to be contacted for a sleep study, and let’s get you on track for better sleep.  

Q: What kinds of treatments does MetroHealth offer for sleep apnea?

A: If you have sleep apnea, it’s very important to get treatment. MetroHealth’s multidisciplinary team offers many treatment options. For mild sleep apnea, changes in your basic activity and habits may help. 

  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and medicines that make you sleepy. 
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Even a little weight loss can improve your symptoms. 
  • Sleep on your side instead of your back. Sleeping on your side may help keep your throat open. 

For more severe sleep apnea, one common treatment is the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which provides pressurized air through a mask that keeps your airways open. CPAP machines allow you to sleep by making it easier for you to breathe.

Q: What happens if the CPAP doesn’t work for me?

a. Although CPAP is the most commonly used treatment for sleep apnea, there are other options. MetroHealth’s comprehensive sleep team offers individualized treatment options including weight management and lifestyle changes, dental and orthodontic devices, advanced bilevel pressure devices, medication therapy, and sleep surgery. MetroHealth offers a variety of surgical treatment options for sleep apnea, including a new FDA-approved device called Inspire, a small, implantable pacemaker-like device that stabilizes the throat by providing gentle stimulation to throat muscles and allowing the airway to remain open during sleep. An otolaryngologist at MetroHealth, places the device during a same-day, outpatient procedure.

Q: What treatments does MetroHealth offer for insomnia?

A: When insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep, or waking too early) becomes a chronic problem, treatment can help you get better sleep. Only 10% of people who have insomnia have chronic insomnia. Most don’t need medication to treat it, although MetroHealth does offer medication to those who are good candidates for it. MetroHealth offers state of the art cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, the gold-standard treatment for chronic insomnia. 

Sometimes, changes in our sleep habits can be helpful for insomnia. This includes practicing the following:

  • Wait until you are sleepy before going to bed.
  • After 20 minutes, if you’re not asleep, get out of bed.
  • If you are not asleep after 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and find something else that will relax you enough to help make you sleepy.
  • Pre-sleep rituals help to initiate relaxation each night before bed: warm bath, light snack, or a few minutes of reading or music.   
  • Avoid heavy meals near bedtime.
  • Try to keep a regular sleep/wake schedule.
  • Sleep a full night on a regular basis.
  • Get enough sleep everyday so that you feel well-rested.
  • Do not eat, watch TV, talk on the phone, or play computer games in bed.
  • Avoid caffeine after lunch.
  • Avoid alcohol of any type within six hours of your bedtime.
  • Do not smoke or ingest nicotine within two hours of your bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly but avoid strenuous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.
  • Avoid sleeping pills, or use them cautiously.
  • Try to get rid of or deal with things that make you worry, before bedtime.
  • Find ways to relieve stress and aggravation.  
  • Maintain your bedroom environment quiet, dark, and a little bit cool.

Q: What sleep conditions does MetroHealth treat?

A: MetroHealth Sleep Medicine specialists can help you identify if you have a sleep condition, and if so, which one and how to treat it. Here are some of the sleep conditions we treat.

  • Sleep Apnea: People with this sleep disorder experience unusual breathing patterns while they sleep. 
  • Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking too early characterizes this condition.
  • Excessive Sleepiness (such as Narcolepsy): People with this disorder have trouble staying awake, and in severe cases, they may suddenly fall asleep during the day.
  • Parasomnias: Involuntary, abnormal behaviors during sleep, like sleepwalking, are part of these sleep disorders. 
  • Sleep-related Movement Disorders (such as Restless Legs Syndrome): People with these disorders may have unusual movements in and around sleep. In Restless Legs Syndrome, they experience unusual sensations in the legs, often while they’re trying to relax or sleep. 
  • Circadian Rhythm Disorders (such as Shift Work Disorder): People with these disorders find their internal clocks not in tune with normal day-night rhythm.  Unusual work schedules (shift work) may make it hard to sleep.