Sleep Clinics: Your First Step to Healing

Sleep clinics or sleep centers are testing and treatment facilities mainly focused on sleep related disorders. Their main function is to medically diagnose any sleeping disorder that you think you may have. A sleep clinic can be hospital based, educational or university based and a freestanding private entity. However the facility is organized is not important, what matters is that it should be accredited by the AASM or the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

The AASM imposes rules for compliance of all sleep clinics. These are aimed to the best interests of the patients. These clinics can be classified into two categories, Sleep Disorders Centers and Laboratories for Sleep Related Breathing Disorders. The first one caters to all sleep related problems while the later concentrates on the treatment of sleep apnea related breathing and sleeping problems.

Before any center could get accreditation, it must first comply with the given standards. The following are the AASM requirements for accreditation;

  • Medical Director – The medical director should be a licensed physician.  He or she must have the expertise and hold a proven track record of handling sleep disorders. This person will be responsible for the patients, their care and well-being.
  • Sleep Specialist – The staff must have at least one sleep specialist with a board certification on sleep medicine.
  • Ongoing Studies – The medical staff are required of yearly ongoing studies. This is to ensure that they are keeping abreast with the newest innovations on procedures and technology.
  • Medical Practice – Sleep clinics are under the medical field, thus they must also adhere to the local and national regulations of medical practice, operations and Code of Medical Ethics.
  • Fees – All fees and charges are being regulated by the state and the federal government.
  • Sleeping Rooms – All sleeping rooms must comply with the required level of comfort, security and privacy of the patients.

Following the appraisal and review of the Accreditation Committee, compliant sleep clinics can get full accreditation for five years. Below are the services offered by accredited sleep centers;

  • Sleep Consultation – This is the initial visit and evaluation of the symptoms provided by the patient. No definite diagnosis is reached at this point, but the doctor might recommend a sleep study.
  • Sleep Study – Medically called the polysomnogram, is usually done to confirm sleep disorder symptoms into a medical diagnosis. The patient is required to sleep in the center, wherein a sleep specialist will be observing him. Sensors will also be strategically attached all over his body to determine brain, heart, and breathing and limb activities. A camera is usually used to record the testing.
  •  CPAP Titration – This process is similar to a sleep study, only this time it is not for diagnostic purposes but for determining the CPAP pressure to be prescribed for the patient.

Maintenance and Wakefulness Test – This test is the direct opposite of the sleep study. This is also done in the sleep clinics and is designed to determine the patients’ capacity to stay awake and is usually done the day after the sleep study. This test is required in some professions like long distance drivers, pilots and heavy machine operators.

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