Posted by Brandei Clifton on Feb. 8, 2018

One might think that someone who dozes off in the recliner early each evening will get plenty of rest and feel invigorated the next day – so why do they still wake up sleepy?

“If you truly get a good night’s sleep, you should wake up refreshed and feeling great, ready to face the world,” says Terry Hicks, coordinator of Cox Branson’s Sleep Lab. “If you continually wake up after a full rest feeling tired, you need to get checked out.” 

The lack of healthy sleep can put people at risk for heart disease and stroke. Here are several warning signs that indicate one might need a sleep evaluation:

  1. Snoring that can heard in adjacent rooms.
  2. Snoring at least three to four times per week.
  3. Quiet, or labored, breathing while sleeping.
  4. Fighting to stay alert while driving.
  5. The necessity of medication for high blood pressure.
  6. A BMI that is greater than 29. (If one does not know his or her BMI, use the BMI calculator tool at

Answering “yes” to any of those questions could indicate the potential for sleep apnea, one of the most common sleep disorders Hicks sees in his patients.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of the affliction, is typically marked by loud snoring, waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, morning headache, difficulty staying asleep, attention problems and irritability. The condition also causes a person to stop breathing, sometimes for up to 1.5 minutes at a time.

The condition often carries a 10-year mortality rate if left untreated because, over time, it takes a toll on one’s heart. In fact, research shows having sleep apnea for four or five years raises a person’s risk of having a heart attack or dying by 30 percent.

Many cases of sleep apnea are easily treated with a nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. This mask provides a steady flow of air, keeping the air passage open and prevents airway collapse and apnea.

Testing for apnea is one of the most common tests conducted at the Cox Branson Sleep Lab during an overnight study. The patient stays the night at the lab while a technician monitors their breathing, heart rate, limb movements, oxygen levels, EEG and eye movements.

The next morning, a nurse practitioner meets with the patient to go over the preliminary results of their study.

“Patients are concerned when you tell them they may stop breathing at night,” says nurse practitioner Jill Fritz. “I believe that by giving results the same day as their sleep study, I am able to develop a relationship with the patients and educate them on the disease process and help troubleshoot their concerns.” 

However, to make diagnosing sleep disorders even easier, The Sleep Disorders Center at Cox Branson has added a cash-option for its at-home sleep study. For $350, a patient takes home three small pieces of equipment to wear while they sleep, including a wrist piece, and a belt for both the chest and abdomen.

“This gives you a chance to get real answers from the comfort of your own home,” says Hicks. “It’s easy to do and just might save your life.” 

If you’d like more information on the cash-option for an at-home sleep study or Cox Branson’s Sleep Services, call 417-335-7558.