According to studies done by Stanford Hospital, 40 percent of adults are sleepy enough during the day that it hinders their activities in some way. Astonishingly, about 56 percent of adults in the United States experience symptoms of insomnia three nights a week or more. In many of these cases, the patient can not identify the cause of the problem.
Identifying a sleep disorder and finding the root cause can be very difficult in one, or a few, daytime office visits. To be properly diagnosed very often requires the medical services of a multidisciplinary team of physicians, all working together to rule out other medical problems and find contributing factors.
The Purpose of a Sleep Center or Sleep Lab
Sleep center facilities are designed to diagnose sleeping disorders by using state-of-the-art technology and diagnostic tools. Some centers also conduct ongoing research in such disorders as narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and circadian rhythms used to benefit other sufferers. Most sleep centers are staffed with a multi-disciplinary team of sleep trained doctors. If you are experiencing sleep difficulties, your physician will refer you to gain an in-depth look at the problem and to obtain an accurate diagnosis. The vast majority of sleep centers are for diagnostic purposes, not treating disorders. Once the proper data is obtained, your primary physician will use that information to prescribe a proper treatment.
What Happens During a Sleep Study?
Most people will be asked to sleep for one or more nights at a sleep center to obtain proper data be able to diagnose common and rare disorders. Most people expect a sleep study to be invasive or uncomfortable, but quite the contrary is true. Most sleep centers have a peaceful and almost hotel like surroundings, designed to help the person feel comfortable, and able to sleep well. While sleeping, the person is hooked up to a variety of monitors. The monitors feel unfamiliar, but they are not uncomfortable. Most data can be gained in one to three nights and the study participant has the ability to keep a normal work and day schedule.
What is the Difference Between a Sleep Clinic and a Sleep Lab?
Though the qualifications are as stringent, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, makes a distinction between the two. As defined by the AASM:
“An accredited sleep disorders center is a comprehensive or full-service sleep disorders program that must be prepared to provide adequate evaluation of patients with a variety of sleep disorders. The AASM accredits two different types of sleep disorders facilities; sleep disorders centers and laboratories for sleep-related breathing disorders. A Sleep Disorders Center is a medical facility providing clinical diagnostic services and treatment for patients who present with symptoms or features that suggest the presence of any sleep disorder. In contrast, a laboratory for sleep-related breathing disorders provides diagnostic and treatment services limited to sleep-related breathing disorders, such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome.”
Finding Reputable Sleep Centers
There are several accreditation agencies for sleep centers and laboratories for sleep related breathing disorders, with the most sought after accrediting body being the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which lists centers by state. The process to gain accreditation is a long and involved process that includes several evaluations and site visits by sleep-boarded physicians or PhD Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine.