Brandi Gruber will talk about the value of a good night’s sleep any time, but this month she is making a special effort to spread the word. As director of cardiopulmonary services at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center, Gruber and her staff in the Sleep/Wake Disorders Center are observing Better Sleep Month.
The St. Rose sleep center is the only one in Barton and surrounding counties that is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
“This is the gold standard for any sleep center,” Gruber commented. “And many insurance companies will not pay for a sleep study if the facility is not accredited.”
For millions of people, Gruber said, the consequences of a poor night’s sleep are every day occurrences. “These include increased stress and lack of focus, which result in decreased productivity,” she explained. “Lack of quality sleep is also dangerous when someone is behind the wheel of a car.”
One problem that leads people to a sleep study is a battle with daytime sleepiness, which may or may not be caused by a snoring partner. “You don’t know how many times I hear that one,” Gruber laughed.
Many people try over-the-counter and/or prescription sleep aids without really understanding the cause of the problem, she added, noting a sleep study can provide information the patient’s doctor needs to make a diagnosis. Left untreated, sleep disorders may cause high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and motor-vehicle accidents.
Gruber understands that some people may resist participating in a study because it takes all night.
“This is why we try to make our rooms as homey as we can,” she said. “Our two sleep-study rooms are comfortable and even have king-sized beds.”
The center is available Monday through Friday. The first patient arrives at 7:45 p.m. and the second a couple of hours later. Usually, they are on their way home by 6 a.m. The center performs about 25 sleep studies a month and a patient can usually get an appointment within a week or so.
“After their doctor diagnoses the problem and begins treatment, many patients wonder why they waited so long,” Gruber commented. “Their quality of life has greatly improved.”
The most common problem at the center is sleep apnea, which causes interruptions in breathing. Others are periodic leg movement, restless leg syndrome and sleep disturbance related to night-shift work.
Sometimes medications are prescribed and other times a CPAP device is the answer. The acronym stands for continuous positive airway pressure.
“There is help for sleep disorders,” Gruber said. “We encourage people to ask their physicians for a referral to our sleep center.”
Steven Ronsick, M.D., is the St. Rose center’s medical director. He sees about 60 patients per month in Great Bend; he is based at the Hutchinson Clinic. Ronsick is board certified in sleep medicine.