Respiratory and Sleep Disorders Clinic

The Sleep Disorders Clinic consists of a sleep laboratory and sleep clinic which is involved in the evaluation and treatment of a variety of sleep disorders, including Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Narcolepsy, Restless Leg Syndrome, and Insomnia.

OSA is a common, yet often undiagnosed sleep disorder. It afflicts 20 million adult men and women in the U.S. People who have OSA stop breathing repeatedly during sleep because their airway collapses. These pauses in breathing can happen 30 times or more per hour. When healthy sleep is interrupted in this way, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other serious health conditions may increase.

OSA can occur in men, women and children of all ages and sizes. Most people who have OSA do not realize they suffer from the condition. Often, it is the bed partner who notices the first signs of OSA.

If you or someone you know snores regularly and has one or more of the following symptoms, it may be OSA.

Key signs and symptoms include:

  • Loud snoring, interrupted by pauses in breathing
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Excessive sleepiness or fatigue during the day
  • Large neck size (greater than 17" in men; greater than 16" in women)
  • Crowded airway
  • Grogginess and morning headaches
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Poor judgment or concentration
  • Irritability
  • Memory Loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

Why does sleep apnea occur?

1. Excessive Tissue - When you are asleep the tongue and other muscles in the throat relax. This floppy tissue can decrease the size of your airway. As a result, your airway closes and airflow stops periodically during sleep.

2. Weight - During sleep, excessive weight around the neck and chest can create a narrowing of the airway due to the weight of muscles relaxing on the throat and chest. If you have a large neck or are clinically overweight you may suffer from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening disorder and will only get worse if left untreated. If this sounds like something that may affect you, please do not hesitate to discuss it with your physician today. Your physician may recommend testing in the sleep laboratory either overnight and/or during the daytime. Patients with a suspected sleep disorder should be referred to the pulmonary sleep clinic, which is devoted to the management of sleep disorders. The sleep clinic is staffed with Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (RPSGT) who have expertise in the management of sleep disorders. A sleep study will be performed in the sleep lab on patients with appropriate indications, interpreted by Dr. O. Ikladios, Medical Director at Illinois Lung Institute, and treatment recommendations will then be made by the sleep clinic. Once your disorder is diagnosed, a personalized treatment plan will be designed specifically for you.

Treatment Options include use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask while sleeping, use of an oral appliance (mouthpiece), or surgery.

Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes a person to have difficulty staying awake. Narcolepsy can cause a person to suddenly fall asleep during the day. These "sleep attacks" occur even after getting enough sleep at night. The unusual sleep pattern that people with narcolepsy have can affect their schooling, work, and social life.

Effects of Narcolepsy

People with narcolepsy often fall asleep without warning at inappropriate times. Sleep attacks don't just happen during quiet times, such as when reading or watching TV. These attacks can occur during driving, eating, or other activities and can cause:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Problems at work or at school
  • Social problems
  • Impaired memory, thinking, or ability to concentrate
  • Depression

If your doctor suspects you have narcolepsy, he or she will likely suggest you see a sleep specialist who may recommend special sleep tests. The sleep specialist will confirm a diagnosis of narcolepsy, diagnose another sleep disorder, or rule out a specific sleep disorder as the cause of your symptoms, based on:

  • The results of your sleep tests
  • Your symptoms
  • Your sleep habits as recorded in a sleep diary

Narcolepsy is easier to diagnose if you have more symptoms than just daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks.

Sleep Tests

Sleep tests are usually done at a sleep disorders center. For some sleep tests, you may need to sleep overnight at the center. Other sleep tests can be done during the day. The tests most often used to diagnose narcolepsy are:

  • Polysomnogram (PSG)
  • Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT)

Polysomnogram

For this study, you sleep overnight at a sleep center. While you are sleeping, the staff at the center use various devices to measure your brain activity, breathing, and movements. The signs of narcolepsy this test can reveal include:

  • Falling asleep quickly
  • Entering rapid eye movement (REM) sleep soon after falling asleep
  • Waking up often during the night

Multiple Sleep Latency Test

This test is usually done during the day after an overnight PSG. Also called a nap study, the MSLT measures how easy it is for you to fall asleep during the day. You are asked to take short naps about every 2 hours. The test records eye movements, muscle tone, and brain activity with small devices attached to the head. The signs of narcolepsy this test can reveal are quickly falling asleep during the day (after a full night's sleep) and entering REM sleep soon after falling asleep.

Sleep Testing is available Sunday night through Friday, performed for any/all shift workers and anyone who is at least 2 years of age.

Living With Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a lifelong condition. Although there is no cure for this condition, symptoms often improve with ongoing treatment. Most people with narcolepsy can live near-normal lives. The condition can be dangerous if sleep attacks or sudden loss of muscle tone occur while driving or using machinery. Even when these episodes occur at other times, they can cause injury or impair performance in school and on the job.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when at rest in an effort to relieve these feelings. RLS sensations are often described by people as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs

The most distinctive or unusual aspect of the condition is that lying down and trying to relax activates the symptoms. As a result, most people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Left untreated, the condition causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue. Many people with RLS report that their job, personal relations, and activities of daily living are strongly affected as a result of their exhaustion. They are often unable to concentrate, have impaired memory, or fail to accomplish daily tasks.

The disorder is diagnosed clinically by evaluating the patient's history and symptoms. Despite a clear description of clinical features, the condition is often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. Unfortunately, there is no single diagnostic test for RLS. Physicians must rely largely on patients' descriptions of symptoms and information from their medical history, including past medical problems, family history, and current medications. Patients may be asked about frequency, duration, and intensity of symptoms as well as their tendency toward daytime sleep patterns and sleepiness, disturbance of sleep, or daytime function. In some cases, sleep studies such as polysomnography (a test that records the patient's brain waves, heartbeat, and breathing during an entire night) are undertaken to identify the presence of PLMD.

EEG (electroencephalogram)

An EEG may be helpful for diagnosing or treating the following disorders:

  • Epilepsy or other seizure disorder
  • Brain tumor
  • Head injury
  • Brain dysfunction that may have a variety of causes (encephalopathy)
  • Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
  • Stroke
  • Sleep disorders
  • Dementia

EEGs are safe and painless and available for anyone 2 years of age and older. All EEGs are interpreted by specialists at INI (Illinois Neurological Institute).