Other Sleep Problems
Drowsy driving is common. The National Sleep Foundation estimates 54% of Americans are sleepy while at the wheel. A driving history is integral to a patient’s sleep history in order to help patients. Often, once the sleep disorder is treated and the patient is educated, alertness at the wheel improves significantly.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
Excessive daytime sleepiness can range in severity from mild drowsiness during quiet situations to devastating sleepiness, which may lead to difficulty concentrating, work and school problems and driving accidents. Untreated sleep apnea, voluntary sleep deprivation, narcolepsy, depression and a wide variety of medical conditions and medications are causes of excessive daytime sleepiness. Treatment can involve a CPAP device to help keep the patient breathing during sleep, upper airway surgery by experienced surgeons and, in appropriate patients, weight management. Patient education about the importance of sleep and the impact of sleep deprivation is critical to treatment success.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Many patients with sleep problems are shift workers, who are especially challenged when it comes to getting an opportunity to obtain adequate sleep. Shift workers have less total time to sleep in a 24-hour period than people who work conventional hours. Further, years of shift working can lead to chronic sleep problems. Many problems encountered by shift workers respond to behavioral changes and specific treatments, including the timing of light exposure, the use of sleeping aides and maintenance of good sleep habits. An environment conducive to restful sleep is also very important.