About Sleep Disorders

Sleeping well equates to good health

Good sleep is necessary to feel refreshed and restored in the morning. Good sleep gives us tools to function well during the day and stay healthy. When sleep is compromised, our minds, health, safety and relationships suffer. Symptoms of sleep disorders include restlessness at night, waking feeling unrefreshed in the morning, daytime sleepiness and lack of focus. Health consequences can include headaches, achiness, high blood pressure, depression and heart attacks. Work performance can suffer. Sleep deprived individuals are at higher risks for accidents.

Common sleep disorders include:

  • Insomnia – the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • Sleep apnea – pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep
  • Restless Legs Syndrome – unpleasant sensations in the legs when resting
  • Narcolepsy – excessive sleepiness when not stimulated during the day
  • Parasomnias – acting out dreams or doing unusual activities in sleep
  • Circadian rhythm problems – misalignment of sleep with society’s demands; common in those who do shift work

The University of Kansas Health System's sleep medicine program treats all sleep disorders, from the common to the uncommon. The neurology background of our sleep service gives us expertise in the areas of sleep that overlap with neurologic disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, chronic headaches, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, neuromuscular disorders and many others. We have the tools with state-of-the-art equipment to diagnose sleep disorders

Our goal is not only to provide for all sleep disorders, but further knowledge in the field. We are actively involved in research studies to help us better understand the complexities of sleep and, ultimately, aid our patients.

The University of Kansas Health System's sleep medicine program:

  • Is one of only two sleep programs in the region to train doctors to specialize in sleep disorders.
  • Includes other specialists who will be consulted as part of a treatment plan. Those specialties include sleep medicine, heart care, lungs and breathing, pediatrics, ear, nose and throat, psychiatry, psychology and dentistry.
  • Has doctors, nurses and technicians who are skilled at treating patients with special needs (e.g., Down syndrome, dementia). 
  • Has experienced technicians who are certified to treat sleep disorders.
  • Has an emphasis on neurological-based issues.

Tools to determine the problem

There are different tools available to assist in diagnosis of sleep disorders when needed. 

Home Sleep Testing is a device that can be taken home for one night. It is used to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea by monitoring breathing and oxygen levels. This is generally used for the overall healthy individual at high-risk for sleep apnea. 

When more extensive diagnostic testing is needed, in lab sleep study is appropriate. This is a comprehensive test that monitors not only breathing, but also many other physiologic parameters including: brain waves, muscle activity, heart rhythm, blood oxygen levels and breathing patterns. 

We realize that spending the night in the sleep lab can be scary and uncomfortable. Being away from home can be difficult. Our sleep technologists are very experienced and we do our best to make you feel at ease. During the sleep study, the sleep technologist is observing you from an adjacent room with video and sound. They are available to assist you with your needs. The rooms are private, with your own bathroom. There is an extra room for caregivers or spouses to stay overnight if needed.

What can be done

Treatment of sleep disorders often requires tailored treatment for the individual patient. Some commonly used interventions include:

  • Lifestyle modifications that might include healthy eating to promote weight loss, exercise or reducing the use of alcohol
  • Medications to improve the quality of sleep, treat abnormal movements or improve daytime alertness
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy to identify new ways to approach problems
  • CPAP mask, oral appliance (mouthpiece) or surgery for sleep apnea
  • Inspire implantable electronic treatment option for sleep apnea
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