While you were sleeping...

Hospital Sleep Disorders Center helps people get to sleep

A common topic around the water cooler these days seems to be sleep deprivation.  One colleague has a new baby, another works the occasional night shift, one isn’t quite ready to give up caffeine, and another steals time from bed to meet the demands of the day.
You, too, may be living on borrowed time, your insomnia having stolen many a night of what should have been restful sleep. But the difference between you and your co-workers is that you hear their excuses; you  understand the reasons your colleagues are not sleeping.
What you don’t understand is why you’re not.

Since 1996, the Community Hospital Sleep Disorders Center has been helping people get to sleep. Not only will the staff facilitate a good night’s rest, they’ll help document your problem — while you sleep.

Located since July 2004 at the Ryan Ranch Outpatient Campus in Monterey, the four-bedroom facility is the only sleep center in the tri-county area accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This means, by protocol and practice, the staff combines state-of-the-art testing with expert physician evaluations.

More than 70 million Americans suffer from disorders related to sleep and wakefulness, and 60 percent of them experience a chronic problem.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body actually begins to build a sleep debt which, in the short run, can affect the safety, the productivity, or simply the enjoyment of your day. Over time, such deprivation can lead to hypertension, increased risk for cardiovascular events, and impaired glucose tolerance, the precursor to diabetes, as well as to an increased risk of accidents, particularly when driving.

“The Sleep Disorders Center is committed to getting drowsy people off the roads and back into bed,” says supervisor Terrilyn Solomon. “We are open four nights a week, serving about four patients a night, which translates to approximately 750 patients annually. As part of our mission statement, we are dedicated to identifying and meeting the healthcare needs of the many people suffering from the wide spectrum of sleep disorders.”

The Sleep Disorders Center is committed getting drowsy people off the roads and back into bed.”
— Terrilyn Solomon, Sleep Disorders Center surpervisor

The Community Hospital Sleep Disorders Center is the only sleep center in Monterey County accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Here’s how it works. Your doctor will refer you to a local sleep specialist who will evaluate your symptoms and determine the correct tests to be performed at the Sleep Disorders Center. The sleep specialist guides the process of determining the appropriate tests for your particular case and, ultimately, customizing a program to suit your sleep needs.

You will likely spend a night at the Sleep Disorders Center — unless you are one of the 200,000 Americans who suffer from narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by excessive, sudden, and uncontrollable sleep during the day, in which case you may also spend a day at the center, alternating between wakeful periods and short naps.

“This is a full-service sleep disorders center,” says Dr. Shirley Dickinson, a diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and one of only a couple of dozen family doctors in the world who specialize in sleep disorders. “We diagnose a variety of sleep disorders using overnight polysomnograms, which are sleep studies that include monitoring about a dozen parameters. We look at movement of the eyes, brain waves, the movement of the chin and leg muscles, nasal and oral airflow, and how the chest and abdomen are moving during breathing.”

During the sleep study, patients are attached to a collection of electrodes used to monitor brain waves and are affixed with a light strap around the chest and the abdomen to measure breathing.  When it’s time to sleep, they can snuggle into a comfortable mattress under a fluffy duvet cover, relax, and let the staff take it from there.

During waking hours, patients may enjoy the view of the mountains in the distance or the garden just outside the lobby windows, look at television or listen to music, or study the fine art gracing the walls.

“I truly believe we have the most beautiful sleep center in all of California,” says Solomon. “I’m actually sorry the patients who come at night don’t get to see the amazing architecture of the campus and this beautiful site from which we provide our services. But they can see it once they reawaken the next morning.”

Refreshed and relaxed, no doubt.