If you’re tired all the time, restless at night or just generally in constant pursuit of a good night’s sleep, it may be time to get professional help. The Parkwest Sleep Disorders Center treats a variety of sleep issues that could be keeping you from getting the rest you need.

The Study of Sleep

woman sleeping soundly

When a patient visits Parkwest Sleep Center, a sleep specialist will start a discussion about specific symptoms. This discussion helps the specialist determine if a sleep study is needed, and if so, which type.

There are two basic types of sleep studies that can help diagnose and treat sleep disorders, says Abdelhamid Alsharif, MD, sleep specialist and the center’s medical director. One type of study is conducted at the sleep lab, and the other is conducted at home. “With a home sleep test, patients come to the center and are shown how to use the equipment, take it home, then bring it back for the data to be reviewed and analyzed,” Dr. Alsharif says. “The home study is focused primarily on breathing patterns during sleep, but does not actually monitor sleep patterns.”

head shot of Dr. AlSharifAn on-site sleep study involves an overnight stay in the sleep lab. It’s conducted in a comfortable sleeping space set up much like a hotel room. As the patient sleeps, a technician monitors data. “With an in-lab study, we monitor your specific sleep patterns, breathing patterns, heart rhythm and leg movements,” Dr. Alsharif says. “If a significant amount of sleep apnea is seen early in the process, the technician can initiate treatment for you that same night.”

The Most Common Culprits

Dr. Alsharif says the Parkwest Sleep Disorders Center evaluates and treats a variety of sleep disorders, including:

  • Insomnia – Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Hypersomnia – Ongoing sleepiness during the day
  • Parasomnias – Abnormal behaviors during sleep (walking, talking, eating, acting out dreams)
  • Restless leg syndrome – A crawling sensation in the legs when settling in to sleep
  • Obstructive sleep apnea – Interrupted breathing during sleep

The most commonly diagnosed and treated condition is obstructive sleep apnea, he says. Patients who have this disorder typically snore loudly, and the person in the bed with them sometimes notices pauses in the snoring. “Some of the symptoms associated with this condition
include non-refreshing sleep, multiple nighttime awakenings, frequent nighttime urination, morning headaches, dry mouth in the mornings and excessive daytime sleepiness,” Dr. Alsharif says. “People with sleep apnea often wake up feeling as tired as when they went to bed. All of these symptoms can be evaluated with a sleep study.”

The most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is usually a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) that fits over the nose or mouth (sometimes both), gently blowing air into the airway. The goal of CPAP treatment is for the gentle air pressure to keep the airway open during sleep. CPAP devices come in several varieties for a personalized prescription.

Accredited Sleep Center

Dr. Alsharif talking with patient in sleep center
The Parkwest Sleep Disorders Center is fully accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. To receive this accreditation, a sleep center must have a board-certified physician on
staff and a team of trained healthcare professionals. Accredited sleep centers must also comply with the AASM Standards for Accreditation, which is the gold standard for patient care in the sleep field. These requirements incorporate the latest diagnostic and treatment advances, and the standards ensure that sleep centers provide high quality, patient-centered care. When getting a good night’s rest seems more like chasing a dream, see your physician and request a referral, or call the sleep center directly to make an appointment. For more information, visit the Parkwest Sleep Disorders Center website at TreatedWell. com/parkwestsleep or call (865) 373-1974.

A Good Night’s Rest

The question is: how do you get a good night’s sleep when your mind won’t shut down?
Abdelhamid Alsharif, MD, medical director at Parkwest Sleep Disorders Center, says the first step is a predictable and relaxing routine before you turn in. It’s a step that helps the mind and body relax into sleep. “It’s also very important to have a regular sleep schedule, allowing yourself
to go to bed and wake up around the same time daily so that your circadian rhythm can stay in balance,” Dr. Alsharif says.

Lights Out

Make sure the room where you sleep is quiet, dark and comfortable. “Distractions like electronics and TV can be very stimulating to the brain,” Dr. Alsharif says. It’s a good practice to avoid screen time for 30 minutes before you try to go to sleep. Adults are encouraged to get seven or eight hours of sleep each night. The amount of sleep children need depends on their age and stage of growth.

Move More

Research has shown that brisk walking and other moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can enhance the quality of your sleep and help you stay asleep longer. The best times to exercise are early morning and afternoon. Exercising in the evening can increase your energy level and keep you awake. Instead of being active near bedtime, try some late-night stretches or yoga to help you relax.

Sleep and Mental Health

Sleep and mental health go hand-in-hand. If you don’t get enough shut-eye, you may be setting yourself up for anxiety and depression. On the flip side, if you already have depression or anxiety, they can disrupt your sleep. Keep an open conversation going with
your health care provider to get the best treatment for mental and physical health.

Sleep – Good for Your Brain and Your Body

Never underestimate the importance of sleep. Dr. Alsharif says having a good night’s sleep is important for virtually every aspect of the human body. “Healthy sleep helps maintain a healthy heart, lungs, immune system and cognition, to name a few,” Dr. Alsharif says. “It helps us form memories and helps us stay focused during the day.” Healthy sleep is especially important for people with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, heart arrhythmias, lung
disease and strokes. Small changes to your habits can help with many sleep problems. But if your sleep problems persist and last longer than three months, it’s time to talk to your doctor.


To Nap or Not to Nap

woman napping in hammock

With so much talk about the health benefits of sleep, you would think taking a nap would be a good way to catch up on your shut-eye. But that’s not necessarily so. The good news is that naps can relieve stress, improve alertness and help tame negative emotions like frustration and impulsive behavior. And a short nap mid-day can boost your focus and energy.

The not-so-good news is that naps don’t give your body enough time in deep, restorative sleep – so they are not effective for “catching up” on lost nighttime sleep. In fact, long naps on an ongoing basis could be a sign that something is wrong. Day sleep has been linked to diabetes and depression. For some, it may be an indication of a sleep disorder.

The rules may be different if you work overnight or you are recovering from jet lag, but generally, naps should be limited to 30 minutes or less. (Longer naps leave you groggy.) Don’t nap after 3 p.m., and sleep in a cool, quiet, comfortable place where distractions are limited.