How We Can Help
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Treatment Information
Our physicians use a variety of diagnostic tools and treatments to help you sleep better, including:
- Epworth Sleepiness Scale. This diagnostic tool allows our physicians get a better understanding of the severity of your sleepiness. The questions assess your likelihood to fall asleep in normal situations such as driving, watching TV or sitting and chatting with someone. You can take this sleep assessment online in a few minutes.
- Overnight sleep study. If you rate high on the sleepiness scale, our physicians may have you do an overnight sleep study so they can observe how your body handles sleep. During a sleep study, you are attached to an electroencephalogram (EEG) via metal discs called electrodes. The electrodes are attached to your skin and may cause minor discomfort, but no pain. EEGs monitor your brain activity so we can identify your sleeping pattern and any abnormalities while you sleep. We may also monitor your breathing and muscle movements. We take a video of you sleeping to watch eye movements. Sleep studies are usually completed in a sleep clinic, but home sleep studies may be an option for some patients.
- Home sleep study. Some patients may be able to do a sleep study from the comfort of their homes depending on their overall health and other factors. For these studies, you simply pick up the sleep monitoring equipment from our offices and return the equipment after your sleep study is complete.
- Multiple Sleep Latency Test. This sleep study takes place during the day and tests how quickly you fall asleep when sitting in a quiet space. Like with an overnight sleep study, you are connected to an EEG so we can pinpoint exactly when you fell asleep and how your brain behaves while asleep. This test takes place at a sleep claboratory and lasts all day. You will take five scheduled twenty-minute naps during the day in order to assess your level of sleepiness.
- Diagnosis of conditions. Based on your test results, our physicians diagnose any sleep disorders you have, such as insomnia, narcolepsy or sleep apnea. All of these conditions commonly cause excessive daytime sleepiness and have different treatment options.
- Education. Good sleep hygiene and lifestyle changes increase the quality of your sleep. Our physicians teach you how to implement these practices every night as well as make your bedroom into an environment that encourages restful sleep. Many habits, from smoking to drinking to watching TV, can negatively affect your sleep. We help you determine what habits need changed.
- Medicine therapies. Depending on your disorder and its severity, you may need to take medicine to sleep. Prescription sleep aids and sedatives have been shown to be effective in helping patients overcome daytime sleepiness. In most cases, however, we do not recommend taking a sleep aid for an extended period of time, such as for a few months. We also do not recommend taking over-the-counter medications such as nighttime medicines or antihistamines to help you sleep. These can make sleep disorders worse and do not offer a long-term solution.
- Referral to specialists. If your sleep disorder is caused by another medical condition, such as diabetes, our physicians will refer you to other Indiana University Health experts that can manage the condition and improve your health. Other conditions such as arthritis, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may also cause sleep problems.
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