It's My Job: Fargo sleep center’s clinical supervisor helps patients get the rest they needFARGO - Heather Collins believes most people simply accept that having trouble sleeping is normal, but that isn’t true.
By: Angie Wieck, INFORUM
FARGO - Heather Collins believes most people simply accept that having trouble sleeping is normal, but that isn’t true.
As clinical supervisor for the North Dakota Center for Sleep, her job is to help determine what is preventing a patient from getting a good night’s sleep.
Collins points out that sleep is as important to the body as food and water. It is essential for the repair of cells in the body.
There also are significant health risks linked to untreated sleep disorders such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
What do you do here at the sleep center?
We diagnose and treat sleep disorders. We have a physician specialized in sleep medicine here who sees patients. We also have four sleep rooms dedicated to testing and diagnosis of sleep disorders.
Patients are hooked up to a variety of different monitoring pieces (while they sleep) that allow us to collect data for physicians.
It’s about getting a picture of that patient’s nighttime sleeping habits and what could be causing them to be tired during the day – what are the habits and patterns affecting their sleep quality.
In many cases, technicians are able to implement treatment options that same night if certain criteria are met.
What would be an example of something you would try?
The CPAP (continued positive airway pressure) mask is our first line of defense when treating sleep apnea. Diagnosis in the sleep lab setting is really focused on airway abnormalities, your upper airway resistance and obstructive sleep apnea.
What are some signs of a sleep problem?
You should talk to a physician if you have any concerns about your sleep patterns or habits, if you’re not feeling rested or if someone has ever told you that you snore or pause in your breathing.
Do people need a referral from a doctor to visit the sleep clinic?
People can actually do it a couple of ways. They can have a referral from a primary care doctor or other provider they’ve seen. That referral gets them directly into the sleep lab.
They also can choose to come see our physician in the clinic to discuss their sleep concerns and then move forward with any additional testing she might feel is necessary.
Do most insurance plans cover sleep tests?
They do. Absolutely. Just like with any type of testing, like an X-ray or MRI, they’re going to want to see medical need. … So we do have some criteria that we look for. It’s often the symptoms that are bringing you to the clinic already.
How many hours of sleep should an average adult get?
For adults, research says anywhere between six and eight hours every night.
Is it possible to catch up on sleep?
Yes. It’s a myth that you cannot. When we are shortchanging ourselves of sleep, we acquire a debt to our sleep and our body does indeed want to repay that. So, we definitely can catch up.
What do you like about your field?
It’s very young in comparison to other fields of medicine. It’s evolving, and we’ve learned so much in the last 10 or 15 years. It’s fun.
It’s also quite rewarding. We have patients experiencing their sleep study where we were able to apply treatment that same night. They wake up in the morning and know right away that they feel better and different.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501