Studies show that children and adults do not get enough sleep, and especially enough restful sleep; yet studies also point to the fact that a good night’s sleep is key to good health. Lack of sleep puts individuals at risk for developing disease.  

“The average adult requires seven to eight hours of sleep per night.  The overscheduled and busy lives that so many Americans lead today unfortunately precludes them from achieving this goal,” says Ashgan Elshinawy, D.O., medical director of the Saint Peter’s University Hospital Center for Sleep and Breathing Disorders.  “Not getting enough hours or quality sleep can negatively impact one’s cardiovascular health, daily function and mood.  

“Inadequate sleep can also lead to poor productivity at work and school,” Dr. Elshinawy  adds.  “There are several habits you can adopt to promote a good night’s sleep.  It is important to establish a regular bedtime routine including on the weekends. Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least four to six hours prior to bedtime, and get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.” 

While there are many reasons why people don’t sleep well, busy schedules included, often there is a medical reason why many seek out prescribed sleep studies at facilities such as the Center for Sleep and Breathing Disorders at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. 

Sleep studies – for children and adults – can help diagnose sleep apnea as well as sleep-related seizure disorders, movement disorders, such as periodic limb movement disorder, also called restless legs syndrome, and disorders that cause extreme daytime 
tiredness, such as narcolepsy.


The Sleep Study

A polysomnogram or sleep study provides a measurement of how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep problems when they are present. If there is a problem, a doctor who specializes in sleep medicine can diagnose a problem, determine how severe it is, and prescribe treatment, which can include machines fitted to the face that help individuals with breathing. Because the body must be observed during sleep, a comprehensive sleep study requires that individuals spend the night at a sleep lab. Pre-authorization from the individual’s insurance company is obtained prior to the sleep study.  

The Study at Saint Peter’s

During an overnight stay at the Saint Peter’s Center for Sleep and Breathing Disorders, individuals are monitored by sensors that are placed on specific parts of the body – head, chest and legs. These sensors measure brain waves, leg movement and heart rate. The information is recorded by computers found in the Center’s control room where the certified sleep technologist, who places probes on the individual, remains throughout the night. The technologist analyzes the recorded data to determine the quality and duration of the individual’s sleep, to see how many times, if any, he/she stops breathing, and to check for any abnormal heart rhythms. 

One of the Center’s four bedrooms is larger than the rest to accommodate children who are undergoing a sleep study and the parent or guardian who spends the night with them. 

One of the board certified sleep medicine doctors interprets the data, identifies a problem if one is present, and provides a diagnosis to the physician who requested the sleep study. Typically, although not always, this physician is a pulmonologist or an internist, but sometimes it is a dentist if, for example, an individual grinds his/her teeth when sleeping. The Center’s doctors then work with the individual’s physician to create a customized plan. 

To learn more visit The Center for Sleep and Breathing Disorders at Saint Peter's webpage

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