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New Ulm Medical Center

Don’t Let Sleep Disorders Damage Your Health

Do you remember the last time you got a really good night’s sleep? When you’re juggling work, errands, household chores, and family time, getting eight hours of deep rest can seem like just a dream. About 40 million American suffer from chronic sleep disorders, and 100 million Americans say they have trouble getting a full night of quality sleep.

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Polysomnographic technologist Reya Forstner monitors a sleep study recently at the New Ulm Medical Center. For patients who have trouble sleeping, or feel tired and drowsy during the day, the sleep center at NUMC can help pinpoint the source of the problem.

Unfortunately, skimping on sleep can harm your health. Sleep deficiency can cause mood swings and depression. It can also raise your risk for chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. But restful sleep can improve every aspect of health and even have life-saving benefits. Sleep can improve circulation, lower blood pressure, boost metabolism, aid your immune system, and improve concentration. It can even help in controlling diabetes and heart disease.

“Sleep affects your whole entire body,” said Reya Forstner, the polysomnographic technologist who administers sleep studies at the New Ulm Medical Center. For patients who have trouble sleeping, or feel tired and drowsy during the day, the sleep center at NUMC can help pinpoint the source of the problem.

Sleep Studies at Home or Sleep Center

If you have symptoms of sleep deficiency, your doctor may recommend an at-home sleep study. This low-cost, non-invasive screening can check for warning signs of a sleep disorder. Patients are given home equipment to monitor their heart rate, air flow, and oxygen levels while sleeping. If the screening shows signs of a sleep disorder, the doctor will likely prescribe a full sleep study.

During a full study, patients stay overnight at the sleep center. Sleep studies are conducted in private, comfortable bedrooms. Patients are hooked up to wires and electrodes that monitor oxygen, heart rate, limb movements, brain activity, and snoring. Forstner records the results of the study, and neurologist Lisa Davidson, M.D., makes a diagnosis.

“The main thing we’re looking for is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). That’s a condition where you actually stop breathing in your sleep for short periods of time,” Forstner said. Symptoms of OSA include a morning headache, high blood pressure, and fatigue. “Sometimes the bed partner will say, ‘You snore. You toss and turn all night. You don’t sleep well.’ That can be a huge indicator.”

If there is a diagnosis of OSA or another sleep disorder such as restless leg syndrome or insomnia, patients can begin treatment. They will receive follow-up care from a sleep specialist.

“There have been many, many cases of people who have been treated for obstructive sleep apnea and suddenly their diabetes is under control, weight loss is more manageable, or blood pressure medication can be reduced,” Forstner said.

To find out more about an at-home sleep study, call 507-217-5150. It could make a world of difference for your health.