Why is Sleep important?

Sleep is a restorative process that affects nearly all aspects of our lives - our health, alertness, memory, energy level and emotions. Everyone experiences sleep difficulties from time to time, however when you have persistent trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or feeling refreshed during the day, you probably have a sleep disorder.

How do I know if I have a sleep disorder?

The Ochsner Sleep Centers (located in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Covington) are designed specifically to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Patients may first have a full consultation with a Sleep Specialist, a physician who has specialty training in sleep disorders. Clinical evaluation includes a thorough history and physical examination with special emphasis on symptoms consistent with sleep disorders or on other medical conditions that may be worse during sleep (for example, certain types of lung disease or neuromuscular disease). Some sleep disorders are treated with behavioral techniques; others require various types of medication. Proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment can greatly improve daytime performance and general health. If it is indicated, the patient may be scheduled to spend the night in one of our Sleep Disorders Centers to complete a sleep study called a polysomnogram. Specialists observe, record and evaluate sleep patterns with a series of monitoring devices. The study helps our sleep specialists diagnose the problem and formulate a treatment plan.

The majority of studies performed in the sleep laboratory are full-night recordings of a sleeping patient's breathing pattern, heart rate, oxygen saturation, muscle tone and brainwaves. Analysis of this information can be very useful to the clinician in determining the true nature of a patient's sleep complaint. In some cases, a series of monitored naps are performed the day after a night study to confirm excessive daytime sleepiness and unusually quick entry into REM sleep. Nap studies are only performed the day after a night study so that the quality of the night's sleep may be taken into account when interpreting the nap study.

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