About our Sleep Medicine Program

If you or someone you love is suffering from a sleep disorder, you know how difficult it can be to function at your best and enjoy even the most routine daily activities. Did you also know that sleep disorders that are left untreated can lead to more serious health problems?

Effingham Health System is pleased to announce an affiliation with Southeast Sleep Disorders Center, a division of Southeast Lung Associates, and the regional leaders in sleep diagnostics and treatment services.

If you’re ready to find a solution to your sleep problems, and want to do so closer to home, we’re ready to help you say goodbye to tired and hello to feeling rested and healthy.

To learn more about the program, contact the EHS Sleep Medicine Department at 912-629-2290 extension 4.

If you do not have a primary care provider, click here to make an appointment with one of our primary care physicians.

What to do if you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms of a sleep disorder?

Today, there is a very simple step you can take to help your care provider and you determine why you are having problems sleeping.

A sleep study does require a physician order. Once you talk with your provider and share your symptoms, he or she will perform a physical exam to rule out other factors. They may require you to undergo a series of tests such as a simple lab draw to find out what’s going on within your body. They may also recommend you for a sleep study.

Sleep studies are performed overnight. The professional staff at EHS will walk you through how the program works and you can be assured that from the moment you arrive at the hospital for a sleep study, our goal is to make you feel as comfortable as possible.

Couple SleepingThroughout the night, you will be connected to gentle leads which will be placed at various places on your body. This equipment, monitored throughout the evening by skilled and trained sleep technicians, ultimately supplies your provider with the data needed to identify the root of your sleep disorder and carefully create a treatment plan designed for you.

Want to learn more about the most common sleep disorders?

Insomnia

Insomnia is characterized by an inability to initiate or maintain sleep. It may also take the form of early morning awakening in which the individual wakes up several hours early and is then unable to fall back to sleep. When a person has difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, often times the result is excessive daytime sleepiness – some describe it as feeling as if they are in a fog. This condition can lead to functional impairment throughout the day.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness (including what is called irresistible sleepiness) combined with sudden muscle weakness. People with narcolepsy fall asleep uncontrollably and at any time of the day, in all types of situations and regardless of the amount or quality of sleep they've had the night before. Narcolepsy is sometimes characterized as 'sleep attacks’.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

RLS is characterized by an unpleasant “creeping” sensation, often feeling like it is originating in the lower legs, but often associated with aches and pains throughout the legs. This often causes difficulty initiating sleep and is relieved by movement of the leg, such as walking or kicking.

Sleep Apnea

Snoring not only disrupts sleep for the spouse lying next to their mate, it may also mean Sleep Apnea. Persons with sleep apnea characteristically make periodic gasping or “snorting” noises, during which their sleep is momentarily interrupted. Those with sleep apnea may also experience excessive daytime sleepiness, as their sleep is commonly interrupted and may not feel restorative. Treatment of sleep apnea is dependent on its cause. If other medical problems are present, such as congestive heart failure or nasal obstruction, sleep apnea may resolve with treatment of these conditions. Gentle air pressure administered during sleep (typically in the form of a nasal continuous positive airway pressure device) may also be effective in the treatment of sleep apnea. As interruption of regular breathing or obstruction of the airway of the individual during sleep can pose serious complications for the health of the individual, symptoms of sleep Apnea should be taken seriously.

What is the recommended amount of sleep for every age group?

According to the National Institutes of Health, the following are the most current recommended sleep guidelines for daily sleep requirements.

Infants

Birth–2 months need 12–18 hours
3–11 months need 14–15 hours

Toddlers/Children

1–3 years need 12–14 hours
3–5 years old need 11–13 hours
5–10 years old need 10–11 hours

Adolescents

10-17 years need 8.5–9.5 hours

Adults

7–9 hours

What are some of the health conditions associated with prolonged sleep disorders?

Sleep Disorders, when left undiagnosed and untreated can lead to several chronic diseases. Increasingly, prolonged disturbance in sleep has been identified as contributing to illness and even premature death. Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including the following:

Diabetes

Research has found that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes. Additionally for those already diagnosed with diabetes, sleep disorders can lead to complications, therefore, it is very important that you share your sleep concerns with your family health provider if you believe you are experiencing a sleep issue.

Cardiovascular Disease

Persons with sleep apnea have been found to be at increased risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases. Most notable are hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease and irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias). In recent studies, these conditions have all been found to be more common among those with sleep disorders than their peers without sleep abnormalities.

Obesity

New research has found that short sleep duration results in metabolic changes that may be linked to obesity. Also, we now know that obesity in children can lead to sleep disorders – making obesity dangerous on both sides of the disorder. It is believed that sleep during the childhood and adolescence years is particularly important for brain development. Experts know that insufficient sleep in youngsters may adversely affect the function of a region of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite and energy levels.

Depression

The relationship between sleep and depression is widely studied and is very complex. It’s been long held by researchers that sleeplessness is an important symptom of depression. Today, research shows that depressive symptoms may in fact decrease once a person has undergone treatment for sleep apnea.