O, to sleep, to dream, and to wake up without feeling beat up , exhausted, and ready for a nap. Sleep apnea, restless legs, insomnias, parasomnias–there are categories and subcategories of all that steals sleep. Quite a few sleep disorders will actually affect good health: sleep terrors, REM disorders, obstructive sleep apnea can with frequency affect mental as well as physical health. Fortunately there are sleep study centers today, and in Valley City is lucky enough to have one.

CHI Mercy Health has opened a sleep center in the hospital. The center is run by Whitney Sleep Diagnostics & Consultants of Detroit Lakes, and coordinated by Karen Burchill for the hospital. The studies are conducted right in the hospital and patients receive follow up from a Board Certified Sleep Specialist.

“Traditionally in a smaller town,” said Jim Dunn, “the patient and his or her healthcare provider saw the results of the sleep study for the first time together and had to figure out what it all meant. Now the patient can talk directly to the Sleep Specialist who interprets their study via telemedicine right at CHI Mercy. We are able to diagnose, treat and provide continued follow up for most sleep disorders right in Valley City.” Dunn is Whitney Sleep’s Director of Business Development, and a Whitney Sleep success story himself.

There are eighty-four different sleep disorders, said Dunn, with insomnias the most prevalent, but Obstructive Sleep Apnea are the most commonly worked with.

“Obstructive Sleep Apnea,” said Dunn, “is a condition where the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open despite efforts to breathe. People with sleep apnea have these pauses in breathing anywhere from 100 to 300 (or more) times each night. In most patients that are referred for a sleep study, we are able to do what we call a split night study. This is where we use the first half of the night to evaluate the patient’s sleep. If the patient displays enough breathing disturbances, we will use the remainder of the night to put the patient on CPAP therapy and manipulate the pressure to make sure the patient is breathing properly in all phases of sleep and in all body positions. Follow up with the Sleep Specialist takes place in a separate appointment.”

Dunn understands the full benefit of healthy sleep. In 2007, he had his sleep study done and learned he stopped breathing 25 times an hour. After starting CPAP therapy, he immediately noticed he had more energy, was more productive at work and at home, and was just in a better mood all day. “You don’t know how bad your sleep is until it is corrected,” he said. “I have never met anyone who said they wish they had waited longer to address their sleep.”

There is a simple diagnostic chart that may indicate a need for a sleep study. Snoring, excessive daily fatigue, hypertension, a large neck size are among the symptoms and an individual who exhibits two or more should consult a doctor, who may then refer the individual for a sleep study. Patients for the sleep studies are all referred by a healthcare provider.

For more information, contact CHI Mercy Health at 845-6400. Or ask your physician to refer you to Mercy for a sleep study with Whitney.