Sleep Medicine

Sleep Medicine

Problems with Sleep?


The most common reasons that people seek care for sleep medicine is because they snore or stop breathing during the evening.  “Sleep Apnea” occurs when you don’t breathe as deeply or effectively as you should while sleeping.   The only way to diagnose it is by a sleep study.

Sleep studies can be done at home (less expensive) or in the hospital (more expensive and more detailed) – and will tell you how many times an hour you stop breathing.  Also, when you stop breathing, your blood oxygen level drops below normal levels.   Low oxygen levels, over time, can be an independent risk factor for dementia.  

Every time you stop breathing, your brain wakes up slightly, keeping you from getting real deep (restorative) sleep and is the main reason you wake up tired.

So, even though you may be asleep – you are sleep deprived.  The symptoms of “sleep deprivation” include poor memory, bad or depressed mood, and higher blood pressure.  

Sleep deprivation makes you hungry and makes it easy to gain weight and hard to lose it.  It affects your hormones:  Leptin is the “fullness hormone” – Usually “goes up” to signal fullness; it goes down after one night of not sleeping well – makes you crave foods – especially carbs and salty food.  Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone” – which goes up when you are sleep deprived, making you want to eat more.

If you think you may have a problem – get tested as soon as you can.  There are treatments available that can help reverse the changes of poor sleep related to sleep apnea.  

How bad could it be?  

Take the quiz:

How likely are you to doze off in the following situations over the past couple of weeks?  Rate yourself (0 no chance of falling asleep – 3 100% chance I’ll fall asleep)

  1. Sitting and Reading _________________________________________
  2. Watching TV ______________________________________________
  3. Sitting, inactive in a public place (e.g. a theater or a meeting) _____________
  4. As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break ____________________
  5. Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit ___________
  6. Sitting and talking to someone else ______________________________
  7. Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol _________________________
  8. In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in the traffic __________________

Total _______________________________________________________


If your total is 8 or more, it may be worth your time to have a sleep study.  

Call our office today 540-772-1890 and ask to speak to Sara, a respiratory therapist and our sleep testing coordinator.  The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start feeling better.