If you have trouble sleeping at night, you’re not alone. Up to 15% of Americans have a chronic sleep disorder, and many more don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night. Ministry Door County Medical Center’s Sleep Facility offers the support, information, and treatment that patients need for a better quality of life.
Studies show that quality sleep is linked to better immunity, more physical and mental energy, increased ability to learn and retain information, and many more positive outcomes. During National Sleep Awareness Week, the facility’s staff is on a mission to educate the community about the importance of sleep. “Sleeping well is the key to living well,” says Nancy Ruff, director of the Sleep Facility. “Our goal is to reduce or eliminate sleep problems to improve people’s health and quality of life.”
The nationally accredited facility, which is located in a tranquil corner of Ministry’s Sturgeon Bay campus, offers several different options for diagnosis and treatment. Patients can choose an overnight diagnostic session, where they will sleep in a quiet suite with a whirlpool, comfortable beds, a private bathroom, wi-fi access, and complimentary breakfast. Or, they may opt for an at-home sleep test. “We are the only facility in the area that offers this at-home test, which is very accurate and qualifies patients to go straight into treatment,” says Ruff.
There are many factors that affect sleep, including diet, physical activity, alcohol use, medication, anxiety, and even sharing a bed with children or pets. Providers take all of these factors into account, as well as using the latest technology to monitor heart rate, breathing patterns, brainwave activity and other key indicators. The procedures are safe and totally non-invasive.
The most common diagnosis for patients with sleep disorders is sleep apnea, though sleep lab staff also see patients with insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and other problems. “Sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing for periods during the night,” explains Ruff. “It’s a serious condition that is linked to stroke, hypertension, and even type-2 diabetes.” Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring at night and sleepiness during the day. The cumulative lack of oxygen to the brain also results in decreased reaction time, a real concern when drowsy drivers are behind the wheel.
Providers at the sleep facility are Dr. Richard Hogan and Dr. Andrzej Kurek, who meet personally with each patient the morning after their testing to explain results and lay out treatment options. The most common treatment for apnea is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, and Ruff reports that patients who choose this therapy are often elated with the results. “I hear comments like ‘You saved my life. My wife is so happy, because she’s sleeping better, too!’” Ruff says that people should not be satisfied with sleep that is fraught with problems. “Sometimes patients, especially older adults, think that this kind of fatigue is normal, but it’s not. And we can help.”
Ministry’s Sleep Lab also offers free screenings to the community. Screenings indicate a patient’s risk for a sleep disorder, and individuals can self-refer for this service. To schedule a free screening, sleep evaluation, or to get more information, call Ministry’s Sleep Facility at (920)746-3570.