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Center hopes to improve sleep

A new division at King’s Daughters Medical Center hopes toprovide some local residents a good night’s sleep.

The KDMC Sleep Center opens today in the hospital’s formerbusiness office. It will share the building with another newdivision, Pulmonary Rehabilitation, that opened in March.

“It’s a new service we opened because we know there are peoplein Brookhaven and the surrounding area who have been referred faraway to these studies,” said JoAnna Sproles, KDMC spokesperson.”Travel is difficult for these tests because of the late and earlyhours involved in arrival and departure. We want people to usetheir normal sleeping habits, so it really offers a great deal ofconvenience to the patient.”

Patients at the sleep center will arrive at 9 or 10 p.m. andstay overnight to allow a technician to monitor their sleep forsigns of interruption.

The center hosts two fully-furnished bedrooms with atechnician’s room in between to ensure the patient’s privacy duringsleep.

“The technician can only see what is on the screens from theelectronics attached to the patient,” Sproles said. “They cannotsee into the room, so it’s very private.”

The center will be open for sleep studies from Tuesday toFriday, but two bedrooms mean the hospital is limited to twopatients per night. Community response to the new center has beenstrong, she said.

“We can expand to seven nights if we need to,” Sproles said. “Weare already booked through the first few weeks.”

Patients must have a doctor’s referral to use the new facility,she said. Ear, nose and throat Dr. Spencer Mooney, of Brookhaven,is the supervising physician, but Sproles said any doctor can makea referral.

Mooney and Dr. Maria Rappai, a pulmonologist with JacksonPulmonary Associates, will screen all referrals.

Sometimes, Sproles said, people just are not able to sleepbecause they are uncomfortable in the strange surroundings, simplyhave a bad night, or even find it difficult to sleep whileconnected to the monitoring equipment.

“Some people have to have more than one study done for variousreasons,” Sproles said.

The center is designed to determine why patients cannot get thesleep they need to function at full efficiency, she said. The mostcommon cause of sleeplessness is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

OSA afflicts 20 million adult men and women in the U.S. Peoplewho have it stop breathing repeatedly during sleep because theairway collapses. Airway collapse can be due to such factors as alarge tongue, extra tissue in the airway or decreased muscle toneholding the airway open. Either of those symptoms, among others,can prevent air from reaching the lungs.

Key signs of OSA include excessive daytime sleepiness, loud ordisruptive snoring and gasping and choking during sleep. Othercommon symptoms are grogginess and morning headaches, frequenturination at night, depression and irritability and obesity.

A failure to treat sleep apnea can result in high bloodpressure, irregular heart rhythms or heart disease, heart attack,stroke and an increased likelihood of driving or work-relatedaccidents from a loss of awareness caused by fatigue.