Getting back to a good night’s rest

Our society undervalues sleep. One-third of adults don’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night, according to the American Heart Association. Sleep deprivation can snowball.

“There’s a common misconception that if you’re not sleeping enough you can catch up on sleep later. If your schedule is busy and you’re not getting much sleep during the week, you may think you’ll just sleep longer on the weekend. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is cumulative, and you can’t necessarily make up for lost sleep later.”

Scott Frede, M.D. | Medical Director of the Sleep Center at Norton King’s Daughters’ Health.

Missing out on sleep can have major implications for your health.

Restoration Project

At the end of a busy day, you may need time to rest, restore and take stock of everything that happened. Your brain and body need this sort of time, too, but them them, restoration happens while you sleep.

“Restorative sleep can help fight infection and inflammation,” Dr. Frede says. “It can also help you think more clearly, improve your memory and enhance your ability to process tasks. On the other hand, sleep deprivation and poor sleep are linked to other medical problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.”

Lack of sleep doesn’t just affect physical health. It can also take a toll on your mental health. Insufficient sleep may increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia and depression.

Breathing Interrupted

Dr. Frede treats a variety of sleep disorders, including insomnia – difficulty falling or staying asleep – and delayed sleep phase syndrome, which is when sleep is delayed at least two hours past a person’s normal bedtime. One of the most common sleep disorders Dr. Frede sees is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition occurs when throat muscles relax too much during sleep and block the airway, leading to interrupted breathing and snoring.

The risk of OSA is higher in people who are obese and those who have a large neck, tongue, tonsils or adenoids. Common signs of OSA include heavy snoring and pauses in breathing during sleep, both of which can disturb sleep partners. OSA can also cause daytime symptoms, including drowsiness, forgetfulness and irritability.

Sleep Under Study

To diagnose OSA, sleep specialists may need to understand what happens when patients are asleep and what their sleep quality is like. One option is a home sleep test.

“At Norton KDH, we offer both home sleep tests and in-lab sleep studies,” says Shannon Shonkwiler, Director of Cardio- Pulmonary Services and Convenient Care at Norton KDH. “If a patient is having a home test, we teach them how to use the device, and they wear it during sleep for two nights. However, home tests don’t capture the same amount of data as hospital- based sleep studies, and they’re not as accurate. Plus, patients who use supplemental oxygen at home aren’t candidates for a home sleep test.”

The Sleep Center at Norton KDH is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and is home to comfortable, hotel-like rooms for conducting sleep studies. During these studies, technicians monitor patients’ sleep, and specialized equipment tracks breathing, heart rhythm, muscle and eye movements, brain wave changes, and other important physiological functions.

Dr. Frede uses the information from home tests and in-lab sleep studies to diagnose OSA and recommend treatment. A common one is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, which is a machine that sends air into the airways to keep them from closing and disrupting breathing during sleep. Other treatment options include oral appliances, allergy maintenance and different types of surgery on the face or throat.

“Pay attention to the quality of your sleep,” Dr. Frede says. “We tend to prioritize other aspects of health or our social lives, but adequate sleep can improve both.”

Energy Enhancement

Thanks to her husband, Adrienne Deck, a 36-year-old salesperson from Vevay, Indiana, knew she snored and talked in her sleep. Passionate about running, shetold herself she was too young and fit to have a sleep disorder. A trip to Mexico with her mother in July 2022 changed her mind.

“My husband is a heavy sleeper, so my snoring and sleep talking never really bothered him,” Deck says. “On the trip, however, my mom said, ‘You snore so loudly, and you talk in your sleep. You should see your doctor.’”

At the recommendation of her primary care physician, Scott Frede, MD, Medical Director of the Sleep Center at Norton King’s Daughters’ Health, Deck had a home sleep test. Dr. Frede’s diagnosis: mild to moderate sleep apnea. Deck began using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine earlier this year.

“The CPAP machine made a big difference,” Deck says. “I sleep better at night, and I feel more alert and have much more energy during the day.”

Sleep Talk

When should you seek help for poor sleep? If you experience morning headaches or daytime mental or physical fatigue, or your sleep partner complains about your snoring, tell your primary care provider (PCP). Those symptoms could stem from a sleep disorder.

“Everyone should talk with their PCP about the quality and quantity of their sleep,” says Shannon Shonkwiler, Director of Cardio- Pulmonary Services and Convenient Care at Norton King’s Daughters’ Health. “If symptoms of poor sleep interfere with your daytime activities or ability to function, sleep testing may be appropriate.”

Before seeing your PCP, make a list of important questions to ask, such as:

  • Could I have a sleep disorder?
  • Could medications I’m taking affect my sleep?
  • Should I see a sleep specialist?
  • What treatments are available?
  • What lifestyle or sleep hygiene changes could I make to promote better sleep?

Your PCP may refer you to a sleep specialist for a home sleep test or lab-based sleep study to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms and determine the most appropriate treatment.

If you have problems or concerns with your quality of sleep, call Dr. Scott Frede’s office to make an appointment at (812) 427-9564.

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