Are you always tired or sleepy?

You are not alone. An estimated 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from sleep disorders ranging from insomnia to sleep apnea and parasomnias. The Sleep Disorders Center at Swedish Medical Center provides sleep experts you can trust for the complete diagnosis and treatment of these disorders.

If you would like to schedule a consultation or appointment for sleep studies or general services, reach out to the Sleep Disorders Center at (303) 788-8352.

A doctor’s referral is necessary for a sleep study. However, the Sleep Disorders Center is an open sleep lab, meaning any physician may refer a patient to the clinic if he or she feels the patient is experiencing a sleep disorder. Download our physician referral sheet to share with your primary care doctor about the Sleep Disorders Center.

Our sleep center services

The Sleep Disorders Center is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, having met and exceeded all standards for professional care. We offer:

  • Hotel-style accommodations
  • Private restrooms equipped with showers
  • Multidisciplinary team of sleep experts
  • Certified medical and surgical treatment

Sleep disorders range in severity and treatment options. The most common sleep disorders we treat include:

  • Insomnia: a persistent inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Snoring: a partial obstruction of the upper airway shown to increase the risk of heart attacks and/or strokes; loud, heavy snoring can also be a symptom of a more serious disorder known as sleep apnea.
  • Sleep apnea: a life-threatening disorder that causes a person to stop breathing periodically while sleeping.
  • Narcolepsy: a neurological illness characterized by sudden, uncontrollable sleep attacks and persistent daytime sleepiness.
  • Restless leg syndrome: a disorder characterized by excessive moment of the legs during sleep, which causes arousal.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux : a disorder in which the acid from the stomach “backs up” into the esophagus during the night, causing small awakenings.
  • Parasomnias: abnormal and recurrent nighttime behaviors such as sleepwalking, sleep talking, night terrors, head banging and other related nighttime behavior

Insomnia

Insomnia may take the form of difficulty falling asleep, or middle-of-the-night or early-morning awakening. It becomes more common as you get older. Insomnia has many causes. It typically occurs in people who are experiencing:

  • Life crisis or stress
  • Change in the sleep environment, including factors such as noise, light or temperature
  • Sleep/wake schedule issues like jet lag or temporary shift work
  • Side effects of medication

Chronic insomnia often results from a medical condition. Examples include:

Lifestyle or behavioral factors can cause insomnia. These include:

  • Misuse of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol or other substances
  • Disrupted sleep/wake cycle from shift work or other nighttime activity schedules
  • Chronic stress
  • Excessive napping in the afternoon or evening

Snoring

Air should be able to move freely through your mouth, nose and throat. At times during sleep, air doesn’t move as freely, making the roof of the mouth vibrate. This is what causes the snoring sound. Smaller airways can lead to louder snoring. Airflow may be obstructed by:

  • Weak muscles in the tongue and throat
  • Larger than normal tonsils or adenoids (enlarged lymphatic tissue) around the throat
  • Cysts or tumors
  • Structural problems (long soft palate, long uvula, deviated septum, small chin, overbite)
  • Congestion from a cold, flu, sinus infection or allergies
  • Sleep apnea

Narcolepsy

People who have narcolepsy may fall asleep at any point during the day. This happens quickly and without control. Sleep attacks can last from three to 30 minutes. They carry a risk of danger as they can happen at any time, including while driving or standing on a ladder. The exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown, but there may be a combination of problems with certain genetics in the brain, the immune system (if it attacks healthy cells) and your environment.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when breathing stops for brief periods of time while a person is sleeping. It can last for 10-30 seconds, and may occur up to 20-30 times per hour. During one night of sleep, this can cause up to 400 episodes of interrupted breathing.

Every time you stop breathing, you interfere with the normal patterns of deep sleep. Your level of alertness and your ability to pay attention may be severely affected. If you have sleep apnea, you are also more likely to have:

When to consult a physician

Should you consult a physician about a possible sleep disorder? Ask yourself, as well as your sleep partner, the following questions to determine whether you may need to talk to a doctor for a referral to our center:

  • Do you feel excessively sleepy during the day?
  • Do you have difficulty falling asleep?
  • Do you awaken frequently during the night?
  • Do others say you snore loudly?
  • Do others say you stop breathing in your sleep?
  • Do you suddenly awaken, gasping for breath?
  • Do you get morning headaches?
  • Do you feel your body going limp when you are angry or surprised?
  • Do you experience vivid dreamlike scenes upon falling asleep or awakening?
  • Do you experience leg pain during the night?
  • Do others say you kick and thrash while asleep?
  • Do you wake up with heartburn, coughing or wheezing?
  • Do you have recurrent episodes of sleepwalking, nightmares or abnormal behavior while sleeping, such as violent actions, head banging or other related behaviors?

If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions, you should talk to your physician about scheduling an evaluation at The Sleep Disorders Center.

Undergoing a sleep study

Prior to your sleep study, we ask you print a completed copy of our Sleep Disorders Center questionnaire to your sleep study appointment.

Preparing for your sleep study:

  • Do not consume any caffeine (coffee, tea, cocoa or chocolate) after 12:00 p.m.
  • Do not consume any alcohol
  • Do not take any naps
  • Maintain your regular daytime schedule as much as possible
  • Your hair should be clean and free from product
  • Do not wear make up, if not possible, be prepared to remove make up upon arrival
  • Men, arrive clean-shaven—although not ideal, we can work around beards
  • Hairpieces and hair weaves must be removed
  • Eat dinner before arriving
  • If patient is younger than 18, a legal guardian must be present throughout the study

What to expect:

A sleep expert technologist will explain all procedures that will be completed for your study. Procedures will include the following:

  • Electrodes are placed on your scalp, temple and chin region to monitor brainwaves and muscle movement during sleep
  • A snore sensor is placed on your neck; EKG wires are attached to monitor your heart
  • Two belts are placed on your abdomen to monitor breathing
  • Two leads are placed on your legs to monitor their movement
  • An oxygen sensor is placed on your finger to monitor oxygen levels throughout the night
  • An air sensor is placed by your nose to monitor your breathing during the night

If you require any assistance with daily activities or tasks, you must notify us at the time of scheduling your appointment. Technologists are not nurses and cannot provide help with medications, nutrition, mobility and personal hygiene.

We are a no smoking facility. You will not be permitted to smoke at any time. If you believe this will cause difficulty during your stay, please discuss nicotine replacement options with your doctor. You will be advised to start your nicotine replacement 12 hours before your study. 

Post-study:

You will be contacted shortly after your sleep study in order to continue the next step in your care. A possible outcome of your tests might call for additional study, follow-up appointments or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine ordered for home use. If a CPAP or BiPAP machine is ordered for you, a homecare company will contact you to setup the machine.

Upper airway stimulation is an alternative to CPAP for people with obstructive sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea can increase your risk of accidents, death, stroke and many other life-altering conditions. It also leaves you feeling tired and unable to stay awake and alert throughout the day.

Our Sleep Disorders Center provides upper airway stimulation for patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea who are not able to find relief through traditional treatments like CPAP.

Upper airway stimulation is a highly advanced, tiny implantable device that works with the patient’s natural breathing process. The system includes a small generator, a sensing lead and a stimulation lead. The device is turned on by a handheld remote and delivers mild stimulation to the muscles of the tongue to keep the airway open. The device is turned on and off each night by the patient.