Technology helps doctors treat more patients with sleep disorders
AIEA, Hawaii - Sleep disorders are on the rise in America, according to experts. Doctors say about 20 percent of the population has a problem like sleep apnea or insomnia. Now, technology like wearables, smpartphones, and other accessories lets sleep doctors help more people diagnose and treat their condition, from the comfort of their home.
By the time many patients walk through the doors of Kaiser Permanente's Sleep Center, they're practically sleep walking because they're so tired. It's usually the last stop for people frustrated with not getting a good rest.
At a sleep clinic, doctors wire up a patient and study what their brain is doing when they sleep. Kaiser Permanente Sleep Center's Dr. Shanon Makekau explains, "We're looking for stages of sleep, mapping out what one's sleep architecture or structure is."
Technology will tell doctors if the person has an issue like sleep apnea, which Dr. Makekau says affects about 20% of the population. "Disruption in sleep that leads to low oxygen, increased awakenings, and stress."
Technology also lets doctors help more patients. At Kaiser's Sleep Center, there are six beds- but they also have 26 portable devices so they can treat more patients.
This reporter tested one of the mobile devices and found it was pretty simple: Put the watch on, attach it to my finger, and go to bed. My results were normal, and doctors say, probably more accurate because I was in familiar surroundings.
Dr. Makekau agrees, "The comfort of one's home is paramount. Then, the data we get is much more reflective of what people are experiencing at home."
When should you visit a sleep clinic? Dr. Makekau suggests if you are "waking up frequently or feeling unrestored during the day and it's impeding function, that's when a sleep study will be useful."
Keep making sleep a priority, she says, because it's so important for your overall health and daily life.