Millions of Americans don't get enough sleep. They may be denying themselves sleep by drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, or by not being able to unwind from a stressful job.
Tonight in Medical Minutes, I show you where some patients and their physicians go for answers to sleepless nights.
When you hear the word lab - you may think of test tubes and rats. But a sleep lab is just about as far removed from a traditional
medical lab with good reason.
They want you to sleep there . . . and not be like John "Sleepless in the Saddle" Tyson.
Our resident insomniac, John Tyson, says he hasn't had a good night's
sleep in seven years. "Most people have no idea of what it is like
to be tired all of the time. Being fatigued to the point where you can
hardly think no memory," he says.
He's come to pulmonary specialist, Dr. Michael Lucia, to try to get some
Taking John's vitals and getting a good health history will help Dr.
Lucia pinpoint a cause to John's sleeplessness. But many times that diagnosis cannot be made without spending a night in a sleep lab.
"People are still concerned they hear lab, and they wonder what are they going to do to me there at night. Its a completely harmless procedure, no needles involved," says Dr. Lucia.
For John it means being hooked up to various wires to his chest,
legs, head, and even chin.
There are more than 70 sleep disorders. John says he has symptoms of some of them including snoring, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea
The most common type of sleep apnea occurs when muscles at the back of the throat relax. This allows tissue to sag and block the airway.
The sleeper wakes up very briefly, gasping for breath.
When the airway is cleared. the person falls asleep again but the process can repeat itself dozens of times through the night.
If John does indeed have sleep apnea, it should show up during his
seven-hour stay here at the sleep lab.
Right next door to John's room is Nique who will monitor his sleep for the next seven hours. The special monitors will take a look at John's snoring, his leg movement, his air flow, his heart beat, and even register the amount of oxygen.
John will be monitored for two hours first, then sleep technician Niquey Bailey will wake him up and put a nasal air mask on.
With C.P.A.P. a mask feeds a constant stream of air though the nose.
The air pressure keeps the throat open so sleep isn't interrupted.
"Its a lot of preparation work to get the best study and a lot of education. For the patient to understand they have a sleep disorder reconize they have one, admit to it and then participate in the treatment of it," Dr. Lucia says.
We'll follow John next Friday to get a diagnosis on his sleep
problem. We'll bring you the story at that time.