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January 21, 2009 > Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders Offers High Quality Treatment

Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders Offers High Quality Treatment

Clinic Treats Insomnia, Sleep Apnea and Other Sleep Disorders

Do you frequently toss and turn all night and wake up feeling tired? If so, you're not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 70 million people in the United States may be affected by sleeping. In an effort to help diagnose and evaluate the growing number of people with sleep disorders, a new state-of-the-art sleep clinic in Fremont has created a "sleep-friendly" treatment center.

In affiliation with Washington Hospital, the new Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders offers the most advanced technology to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions related to sleep.

The sleep clinic is a collaborative resource of multi-disciplinary specialists designed to provide comprehensive patient care for individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, snoring, restless leg syndrome and other difficulties that are keep people up at night.

Leading the new clinic is Medical Director, Dr. Nitun Verma, a sleep medicine physician who has been trained specifically in the treatment of adult and pediatric sleep disorders.

"As a comprehensive sleep clinic, our goal is to collaborate with our patients and find a treatment plan that works for them," says Dr. Verma. "What makes the Washington Center for Sleep Disorders unique is that we are teaming up with other clinicians such as ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons, primary care physicians, and orthodontists to work with patients on finding a solution that best fits their lifestyle."

"We plan on having strong continuity of care, because this is what is needed in the long term treatment of patients with sleep disorders," Dr. Verma says. "This is what is required to reduce the morbidity and mortality of drowsy driving, hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, depression, and other conditions caused and/or worsened by sleep disorders."


Sleep Apnea Often Goes Undiagnosed

Obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder in which the person's airway collapses or is blocked during sleep is one of the most serious sleep disorders, affecting an estimated 12 million American adults. Sleep apnea is usually a chronic, ongoing condition that disrupts the person's sleep several times a night, resulting in poor sleep quality that causes daytime fatigue and sleepiness.

"People with sleep apnea often aren't aware that they have it since it occurs while they are asleep," says Dr. Verma. "What happens is that the muscles that keep the airway open relax during sleep, and the airway narrows. When it narrows too much, the brain has a choice of breathing or sleeping, so the brain wakes up briefly to stimulate the muscles to allow breathing. You can have a lot of episodes like this during the night without being aware that you're waking up for brief periods."

Dr. Verma notes that in addition to fatigue and sleepiness during the day, one of the most common signs of sleep apnea is loud and chronic snoring.

"It's not unusual for someone's family members or bed partner to notice the snoring and suggest that the person seek treatment," he says. "Of course, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Oftentimes, though, people will miss more subtle signs of sleep apnea, such as frequent urination at night, night sweats, waking up confused or panicked, forgetfulness, an inability to multi-task or difficulty concentrating. People with sleep apnea also might feel irritable or depressed, or they may experience mood swings or personality changes."

Because there are no blood tests or other simple means of diagnosing sleep apnea, it usually requires a sleep study, including a polysomnogram (PSG) that electronically transmits and records specific physical activities while you sleep. Such tests will be available at the Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders.

Once a diagnosis of sleep apnea is made, a variety of treatments are available. "In theory, treatment of sleep apnea focuses on the simple goal of keeping the windpipe open," Dr. Verma says. "But it's not always easy to determine which treatment will address the patient's specific causes of sleep apnea and will be the best fit for the patient's lifestyle. That's why it is important to consult a physician who knows all the options and can make the appropriate referrals."


Sleep Clinic Treats Children and Those Suffering from Insomnia

The Washington Center for Sleep Disorders is one of only a few sleep clinics in the Bay Area to offer a pediatric sleep center that helps children with sleeping problems. Dr. Verma has special training working with children and has published studies in the field of pediatric sleep.

"Kids who get overtired are often hyperactive, rather than sleepy," Dr. Verma observes. "So children with sleep apnea are often diagnosed as having attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and are treated with stimulants, which makes the problem worse. This doesn't mean that all hyperactive kids have sleep apnea, but it would be good to rule out sleep problems before prescribing stimulants."

The Washington Center for Sleep Disorders also treats insomnia, one of only two sleep clinics in Northern California to treat this disorder.

"Insomnia entails difficulty in falling asleep and/or staying asleep," Verma says. "There can be a variety of causes for insomnia. Short-term insomnia may be caused by stress or anxiety, jet lag, or another temporary disruption in your life. Chronic insomnia lasts longer, and can be caused by medical, physical or psychological conditions. Treatment for insomnia generally entails making behavioral changes to address the underlying causes. Mild, yet effective sleeping medications may also help. It is important to be evaluated by a physician before taking medications, however."


Clinic Offers High Quality Treatment

The new sleep clinic facility features hotel-style amenities that include a private bathroom and shower. Mimicking a natural home setting, patients can watch television and DVDs in a comfortable, spa like environment.

"Our staff is excited to offer a full-service, comprehensive sleep clinic that is convenient and treats all of our patients under one roof."

For more information about diagnosing and treating sleep apnea and to learn more about various sleep disorders, visit the Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders website at www.washingtonsleep.com. To find a physician near you, visit Washington Hospital's website at www.whhs.com and click on "Find a Physician."


Learn More About Sleeping Problems at Upcoming Seminar

Join Dr. Verma at a free upcoming seminar at Washington Hospital, titled: "Sleep Disturbances and Sleep Apnea." The seminar is scheduled for Tuesday, February 3, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. Call (800) 963-7070 to register.

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