Both breathing and sleeping are supposed to come naturally and effortlessly. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone. On a daily basis, Dr. Benjamin Laracuente at Tri-State Pulmonary Medicine assists patients that suffer from breathing complications; however, not everyone knows he served his Fellowship at the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Sleep Disorders and is a Beaver/Greater Pittsburgh area sleep medicine specialist.

Many people are unable to ever have a good night’s rest because they unknowingly suffer from sleep disorders like:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Disrupted Sleep Cycles (Shift Work Disorders)
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Parasomnia (Night Terrors, Nightmares, Sleepwalking, Dream Disturbances)
  • Narcolepsy
  • Snoring
  • Nighttime Body Aches & Pain

How Do I Know If I Have a Sleep Disorder?

Most people are oblivious to the fact that they’re suffering from a sleep disorder. We typically suggest people ask themselves the following questions for a quick self-assessment:

How do I feel when I wake up? – Do you awaken each morning still feeling tired, groggy, and fatigued? Do you frequently begin your day with a headache? If so, you may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder.

What do I do in the middle of the night? – Has anyone you’ve shared a bed with complained about your snoring, leg twitching, nighttime choking/gasping, or frequent trips to the bathroom? Have they ever shaken you because they couldn’t tell if you were breathing? The best insight as to whether or not you have a potential sleep disorder will often come from things a bed partner has said to you.

Am I excessively sleepy during the day? – People are often confused as to why they’re nodding off in the middle afternoon when they had what they thought was a good 6 to 8 hours of sleep. What they don’t realize is their deep sleep was likely frequently disrupted throughout the night and they aren’t anywhere near as well rested as they thought.

Do I have difficulty falling asleep? – Ideally, your circadian rhythm is in check and you’re one of the lucky ones with a regular bedtime where you’re fast asleep once the light goes out. But not everyone is that lucky. Many people rely on sleep aids to fall asleep or else they toss and turn for a while before their shuteye takes effect. This is especially a problem for shift workers or people without a consistent sleep schedule.

How is my focus, concentration and memory? – Impaired memory, concentration, alertness, judgment, and problem solving/reasoning can be linked to poor sleep and sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

Am I moody? – If you find yourself to be constantly “on edge” – easily irritable and feeling depressed – don’t be surprised if a sleep disorder is the reason for this moodiness.

Am I in shape and how’s my mojo? – If you feel you exercise and eat right, but can’t figure out why you have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood pressure, or have little to no sex drive, it may all come down to the quality of your sleep.

Sleep Disorder Risks Are Serious Business

Your loud snoring may be a joke around the house, but it’s not so funny if your comical snoring is linked to sleep apnea. With sleep apnea, you can either stop breathing altogether or have very shallow breathing for ten seconds or longer while asleep.

The health consequences of undiagnosed sleep apnea or other common sleep disorders may lead to obesity, high blood pressure, pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs), heart arrhythmias, hardening of the arteries, and heart failure – putting you at a greater risk of stroke, heart attack, or diabetes. It’s also a given that excessive sleepiness and fatigue are associated with auto or at-work accidents.

How To Diagnose and Treat a Sleep Disorder

A Sleep Study will be needed to monitor and chart heart rhythm, breathing patterns, brainwaves, eye and leg movements, and muscle tension. Sensors are stuck to the head, face, chest, and legs to monitor and record sleep activity.

From there, if a diagnosis is confirmed, various treatments ranging from lifestyle changes and medications to invasive surgery may be brought to the table. Dr. Laracuente and the staff at Tri-State Pulmonary Medicine will talk you through your sleep disorder and your sleep medicine options. Call us at 724-728-5995 for an appointment.