What are Fatigue and Sleep Disturbances?
Fatigue may be the result of a chronic sleep disturbance. When a condition interferes with a person’s ability to fall asleep or remain asleep, it is called a sleep disorder or disturbance. Left untreated, this can cause a variety of additional health problems. Sleep disturbances affect cognitive and endocrine function and interfere with a person’s ability to lead a normal life. Disturbances include obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring, narcolepsy, insomnia, periodic limb movement disorder (or restless leg syndrome) and parasomnias. OSA, for example, is often a chronic condition that disrupts sleep for at least three or more nights each week.
Patients transition out of deep sleep and into light sleep when breathing pauses or becomes shallow, resulting in poor sleep quality that leads to fatigue throughout the day. Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness. Over 40 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder, and 20 million suffer from OSA. Despite the high prevalence, 93% of women and 82% of men with moderate to severe OSA remain undiagnosed.
At Atlantic Medicine & Wellness, we diagnose a patient’s sleep disorder by reviewing symptoms and observing a patient’s sleep behavior. Additionally, we test brain chemistry and adrenal function that may inhibit a full and proper night’s sleep. Adjusting food intake alone may sometimes manage and resolve sleep disorders as well. Too much sugar or alcohol intake too close to bedtime may often cause awakening in the middle of the night, although patients may find themselves initially sleepy. Dehydration, not enough water, also may contribute to the body not being in a balanced enough state to achieve restful sleep. Some patients also report that joint pain, or back pain, may also contribute to insomnia and other sleep disorders. In order to create an ideal treatment program, we must first understand the cause of your sleep disturbance.
This multi-discplinary approach, coupled with the latest options in diagnostic, comprehensive sleep testing, is the foundation of our unique approach to conquering sleep disturbances and insomnia. These tests include:
- Home Sleep Test: This test is conducted in the comfort of the patient’s home. This test is specifically designed to assist in the diagnosis of sleep disordered breathing, and identifying OSA. The test is convenient for our patients and for some, testing in one’s home environment may offer advantages to the laboratory setting. Our patients take a device home, wear it that evening while they sleep, and return it to our office the next day. Results will be available usually within 24 hours. Based on the results, the physician may: a) rule out OSA; b) diagnose OSA and prescribe therapy; or c) prescribe further testing or titration to be performed in a sleep laboratory.
- Sleep Laboratory: This test is conducted in the comfort of our new sleep lab located in our offices, featuring tastefully decorated bedrooms with comfortable mattresses and televisions in a familiar, convenient environment. These overnight stays are focused on each of our patient’s individual needs and comforts. Our technicians utilize the latest technologies in patient data acquisition.Data is securely processed and maintained on a unique platform, all so that our patients can be confident their sleep test data is accurate, processed in a timely fashion, and securely saved.
Our Approach to Treatment
Once properly diagnosed, our physicians can then focus on the best possible treatments. Sleep disorders often require a multi-pronged approach to treatment. We consider a patient’s overall health when designing a treatment program so it does not interfere with or trigger other health issues. Treatment options may include stimulus control that helps to create the ideal sleeping environment, cognitive therapy that alters a patient’s beliefs about sleep, sleep restriction to limit time spent awake in bed, relaxation exercises, nutrition counseling, chiropractic, and behavioral therapy.
For some, pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals are required to restore a patient’s ability to sleep. For others, devices may be appropriate for maintaining proper airflow with positive pressure to prevent OAS or other sleep disordered breathing. Treatment not directly related to fatigue or sleep disturbances might also be required if problems with sleep are caused by an underlying disorder. Our individualized care plans are developed based on each patient’s unique needs and symptoms, and offer solutions to sleep disturbance that may be life changing for many of our patients.