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A sleep study, at home or in the lab, can benefit health
sleep test 2020
Megan Donecker displays the device that is worn on a wrist during a home-based sleep apnea test. Donecker is director of the Sleep and Diagnostic Center at Pawnee Valley Campus, which now offers this new service.

A new home-based sleep test for those concerned about obstructive sleep apnea is now available at The University of Kansas Health System Pawnee Valley Campus.

This was made possible because of new equipment and software at the hospital’s Sleep and Diagnostic Center, which is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Sleep apnea is a general term for breathing problems that occur during sleep, including breathing cessation many times during the night.

Symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, restless sleep, difficulty concentrating, depression, irritability, morning headaches, high blood pressure and frequent awakenings.

“We encourage anyone who has questions about these symptoms to contact their healthcare provider,” said Megan Donecker, sleep lab director and registered polysomnographer. “If a home sleep test is ordered, we will supply the information and equipment.”

During the apnea test, the patient wears a device called WatchPat on a wrist in the comfort of their own home. The device is disposable.

“This new equipment is more accurate than other devices because we can now see stages of sleep,” Donecker noted. “The only thing we need from the patient is a doctor’s referral.”

The hospital’s sleep lab offers in-house tests for sleep apnea, as well as a host of other conditions. These include insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder, to name a few, Donecker said.

“Sleep apnea is the most common disorder we see at the lab, but we are here for many other concerns,” Donecker noted. “Our two sleep rooms are comparable to hotel suites. Patients are often impressed with the whole atmosphere, which offers many comforts of home.”

Amenities in each room include a queen-size, pillow-top mattress, large recliner chair, large bathroom with spacious shower, television and safe for personal belongings.

The home test for apnea is a good choice for many people but the “sleep-center setting offers many other services too,” the director commented. “We can look for more than 80 sleep disorders at the lab – not just apnea.”

To illustrate the importance of treating sleep apnea, Donecker said it is a risk factor that can contribute to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, daytime sleeping, depression, impotency, traffic accidents and increased mortality.

“Sleep is a huge factor in healing,” Donecker said. “If you aren’t getting good quality sleep, then you increase the risk for many health issues. Our bodies will compensate in amazing ways – until it just can’t.

“We understand it may be difficult to notice sleep-related red flags that our bodies are telling us about, especially when we self-treat with caffeine. I encourage everyone to start listening to what their bodies tell them and speak with a doctor when questions arise. Quality sleep makes for a better quality of life.”

Melanie Urban, Pawnee Valley Campus administrator, said the new home apnea test is “a great example of how the hospital continues to stay innovative and continues to expand services. Having an accredited sleep lab is unique to smaller, rural hospitals. This demonstrates our commitment to provide as many local options as possible.”

The sleep lab sees about 15 patients per month, with the potential for more. Dr. Son Truong is the medical director.