Because Alpine Pain and Rehab Solutions of Utah is concerned about the sleep habits of chronic pain patients, Gary L Child, D.O., when he was managing director of Northern Nights Sleep Clinic, a specialty clinic within A.A. Spine and Pain Clinic, Anchorage Alaska, wrote the following article:
How About a Good Night's Sleep!
William C. Dement M.D. (the godfather of sleep medicine) once stated that "after all the research I've done on sleep problems over the past four decades, my most significant finding is that ignorance is the worst sleep disorder of them all." I think that most of us would agree that for one reason or another, as we evaluate our hectic lives, we don't usually consider our sleep as part of the problem. Oh, we have probably complained that we don't get enough sleep or that the quality of our sleep is in need of improvement, but by and large, we move on and leave the sleeping part of our lives as something we'll catch up on. In fact, we seem to want to treat it with stimulants (to stay awake during the day) rather than determine what the problem is and whether there is a proper treatment. We have built up a whole industry of caffeine distribution so that we can survive the day. If we take Dr. Dement at his word, we need to become more aware of our sleep and how to integrate good sleep habits into our lives for better health and wellness. Whether our sleep is disordered because of shift work, snoring with sleep apnea, restless legs, or other disruptions, this leads to sleep debt and our health and daily activities can be greatly affected.
One of the more common causes of poor sleep and bad health is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is said that OSA is probably as common as diabetes in the United States. It is certainly an under diagnosed problem that can be corrected. Part of the difficulty is that it is not often looked for. For those with OSA, there is a higher risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and increased pain in those with chronic pain syndromes. Most people with OSA will have daytime sleepiness and usually they snore at night. Waking up and not feeling rested, falling asleep while watching TV in the evening, dozing at a stop light during commutes are all signs that you may have OSA.
The diagnosis of OSA requires an over night Polysomnogram (PSG). This involves the use of a sleep center/lab where the patient's upper airway is examined for obstruction and sensors are applied to the head (painlessly) in order to record several data points throughout the night while the patient sleeps. A sleep specialist puts the final report together and recommendations for treatment, if necessary are made.
Although there are several options for treatment, the gold standard is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Newer equipment and masks make this a more pleasant experience than it has been in the past. Variations of CPAP also make the process better. If you are not sleeping or are using caffeine for your sleep debt, get help now. There are several good sleep labs available to you.