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The most common sleep disorder is Sleep Apnoea Syndrome in which breathing stops
momentarily many times during the night. It is estimated that 4% of men & 2% of
women have clinically significant sleep apnea.
Less common sleep disorders include narcolespy, periodic leg movements during
sleep and conditions such as walking and night terrors.
These sleep disorders result in fragmentation of the normal sleep patterns which
cause excessive daytime sleepiness.
Importantly, patients with severe daytime sleepiness have a greater risk of motor
vehicle and industrial accidents than the general population. Additionally, sleep
apnea syndrome is associated with high blood pressure and heart disease.
There is evidence that severe sleep apnea syndrome reduces life expectancy and
that effective treatment reduces excess mortality.
An overnight sleep study (polysomnogram) is important for the diagnosis of sleep
apnea and other sleep disorders.
A sleep study measures:
Respiratory airflow and effort
Heart rate and rhythm
Blood oxygen levels
Periodic leg movements
Other parameters as indicated.
Diagnostic sleep studies are consultative tests which can be properly interpreted
only in the light of clinical information.
Patients should be referred to a specialist in Sleep Disorders Medicine who can
assess the patient clinically before oranising a sleep study.
Patients are admitted for their overnight sleep study in the early evening. Each
patient has a private motel style room.
Sleep is monitored by leads which are taped to the surface of the skin.
Patients then follow their normal pattern watching television, reading, studying
At bed time, the leads are attached to monitors which record the signals on
equipment in a separate room while the patients sleep. A technician trained in
sleep disorder medicine attends to patients and checks the records as necessary.
In the morning, patients can shower, have breakfast and go straight to work from
The Mayo Sleep Investigation Unit is located at the Mayo Private Hospital on the
outskirts of Taree in a semi-rural area and is half-way between Taree and Wingham
The Mayo Healthcare Group established the Mayo Sleep Invstigation Unit is 1998.
The unit uses state of the art computerised monitoring equipment.
The information recorded during the night is interpreted by trained sleep
technicians and is sent to a specialist sleep physician in Sydney for confirmation
of results. The results from the sleep lab are available 2-3 days after your study
and confirmation from the sleep physician in 2-3 weeks.
In this condition, breathing stops momentarily many times during the night because
of repetitive obstruction of the throat. There is usually heavy snoring
interrupted by gasps and snorts.
Frequent sleep fragmentation leads to excessive daytime sleepiness.
Men are affected more commonly than women. Obesity, age, alcohol and sedative
abuse are other risk factors.
The diagnosis may be suspected on the basis of history and clinical examination.
However, an overnight sleep study is necessary for accurate assessment.
Treatment options include lifestyle changes to reduce the risk factors where
possible. However, the most effective treatment is the Continuous Positive Airway
Pressure (C.P.A.P.) applied via a nasal mask during sleep.
Simple snoring has the same risk factors as sleep apnea syndrome but symptons of
apparent cessation of breathing during sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness are
Periodic Leg Movements in Sleep
Another common disorder is frequent leg movements in sleep which cause repetitive
arousals leading to excessive daytime sleepiness.
This is a less common cause of sleepiness. It is a genetically based disorder
characterised by extreme sleepiness with sleep attacks.
This is the most common sleep complaint. Careful assessment of the patient's
medical condition is an important part of the evaluation and an overnight sleep
study is sometimes required.
The Sleep Investigation Unit operates Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm where
enquiries, appointments and purchases of C.P.A.P. equipment can be made.