Aims to Restore Restful Sleep
By Robin Earl
The Fauquier Health Sleep Center reopened in May to diagnose and treat patients who are suffering from sleep disorders. The Sleep Center helps those who have problems with normal, restorative sleep—who experience symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, or narcolepsy. Sleep deprivation can result in excessive daytime
sleepiness and cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure, heart rhythm abnormalities, and stroke.
The Sleep Center’s Syed Murtaza, M.D., is board certified in psychiatry and neurology as well as sleep medicine. He can evaluate symptoms, determine whether testing is called for—either a
home sleep study or an in-lab study—and what course of treatment might be required.
Dr. Murtaza has been focusing on sleep medicine for ten years. He says that obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep problem he sees; it is caused by the throat muscles becoming too relaxed during sleep, allowing the airway to collapse and shut off the air supply.
Although sleep apnea can have a disastrous effect on a person’s health, patients frequently don’t even know they have it. It is often the spouse or partner who observes the symptoms, including:
- Loud snoring
- Frequent silences during sleep due to breaks in breathing (apnea)
- Choking or gasping during sleep
- Sudden awakenings or waking up in a sweat
- Daytime sleepiness
Dr. Murtaza says, “A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is still the treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea, but dental devices and ENT surgeries can work for some people. CPAP machines have improved drastically in recent years. The masks that go over the nose and mouth are much softer and more comfortable, and the machines have technology that allows them to ramp up slowly. In the first half hour, the air pushes through the machine gently, then, when the person is asleep, the machine increases the air pressure up to a therapeutic level.”
The Sleep Center’s diagnostic in-lab study is non-invasive. State-of-the-art computerized equipment monitors up to 20 biological and neurological sleep factors while the patient sleeps in a comfortable, home-like environment. Sleep studies are considered a hospital outpatient service and are covered by most major health plans.
Dr. Murtaza says, “Although medication can help a number of sleep disorders – insomnia, restless legs or narcolepsy, for instance—lifestyle changes can be very effective for improving sleep. We often work on sleep hygiene, healthy eating, working toward an ideal body weight, and drinking responsibly (and not too close to bedtime).
If you think you or your partner may be experiencing sleep deprivation, talk to your physician and request a referral for a sleep consult. Dr. Murtaza will evaluate your symptoms and may recommend either a home study or an in-lab study. He can then evaluate the study results and determine a course of treatment.
The Sleep Center is located on the third floor of the Warrenton Professional Building, at 493 Blackwell Road in Warrenton. For more information, call 540-316-2660.