Tired of being tired? A sleep study may find out why. - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Tired of being tired? A sleep study may find out why.

(Source: WIS) (Source: WIS)

Are you tired of being tired? 

You may think you're getting enough rest, but doctors say it's more than just the quantity - seven or eight hours a night - it's also the quality of those hours.

For a woman in Blythewood, she found her health was worth undergoing a sleep study. Paula Baylis is a life coach who had to face the reality her own life needed some attention.  She was having heart palpitations.

Dr. Amy Epps with Lexington Cardiology wanted to know why Paula wasn't feeling right so she had her undergo a sleep study to analyze her sleep activity.  In a sleep study, the heart, legs, and brain are monitored. Paula did her study at Lexington Medical Center's Sleep Solutions.

Dr. Epps describes what she’s looking for. 

"How many times a night you have apneic spells, what does your oxygen level do at night, how many hours did you sleep?" Epps said. "The other thing it looks at is a restless leg. Do you move your legs a lot at night because sometimes that can keep you from getting that adequate sleep? And then the EKG portion looks for drops in heart rate, skipped beats, arrhythmias, as well."

A sleep study wasn't something Paula was expecting to have to do.  In fact, she said, “I was kind of bewildered because I thought my husband that should be getting tested."

Dr. Epps was looking specifically for sleep apnea - a common and serious disorder.

"Sleep apnea is when usually many, many times a night you actually have apneic spells where you stop breathing, you don't get oxygen, you don't ventilate very well and that usually happens multiple times a night and you don't ever really get into that deep level four sleep that you need,” says Epps.

And that leads to a significant fatigue where you fall asleep easily when sitting in a meeting or when waiting for something, or you're told you snore heavily.

Paula's sleep study revealed what she never knew. She had numerous episodes of shallow breathing. She wasn't getting enough oxygen. And though she didn't realize it, that was waking her up, keeping her from a solid rest.

"When you don't get into that deep level for sleep, you never really get to that deep rest where your muscles can rest, where your heart can rest, where your blood pressure can level out and your heart rate can level out," Epps says. 

After being diagnosed with sleep apnea, Paula's treatment included using a CPAP - a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine that helps a person breathe more easily. 

"You feel so good right away. You're like on Cloud 9. You're like, oh, my God," Paula said. 

Epps says even if you don't have sleep apnea, all of us need to focus on quality sleep - that means before bed, no electronics, no TV, no caffeine. She says to do things that settle you down, not stimulate your mind to keep going.

There are two kinds of sleep studies - the one Paula did in a sleep lab and one you can do at home. Both measure heart and leg activity. The in-lab study also includes measurements of your brain waves.

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