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In the era since the invention of artificial light, our average hours of sleep have dropped from nine hours to seven-and-a-half. When flickering light was made by candle or whale oil, most people experienced “first” and “second” sleep. Going to bed at or near dark, they would wake up at roughly midnight or 1:00 AM, be awake for several hours, and then sleep again until the sun came up. In our chronically sleep-deprived lives today, waking up in the middle of the night for an hour or so is almost like torture, yet it was our normal pattern for millennia.


A sleep deficiency can be the result of sleeping at the wrong time of day, not getting enough hours of sleep, or because of poor sleep quality.

The body needs two kinds of sleep: REM and NREM sleep. REM sleep is when your mind is active, almost as though you were awake. NREM, or Non-REM sleep, is the deepest kind of sleep. A sleep deficiency can be caused by not getting enough sleep or not getting the right balance of the two kinds of sleep.


Virginia Gay Hospital was recently accredited and can now provide home sleep studies. Home sleep studies are a major advance in sleep disorder diagnosis because they are less intrusive and allow patients to be in their own beds.

Home sleep study equipment includes a belt-like device worn on a patient’s chest. This belt has three devices that are monitoring the following: blood oxygen levels, patient’s heart rate, patient chest wall movement, breathing pattern, and the airflow thru a patient’s airway. The results from a home sleep study can rule out sleep apnea and help diagnose other sleep disorders. Testing in a sleep study room with more sophisticated monitoring capabilities is only necessary if the home study detects sleep apnea.

A home sleep study measures the following:

  • Airflow
  • Respiratory effort
  • Oxygen saturation
  • Heart rate
  • Snoring


Many people think the only outcome of a sleep study is sleep apnea or no sleep apnea, but it’s a great first step to a better night’s sleep. For example, a sleep study might determine that you need to see a dentist for a night guard. Bruxism is the term for clenching and grinding teeth, and it can cause insomnia, headaches, and facial pain, not to mention the damage it can do to your teeth. The sleep monitors pick up other issues like restless leg syndrome, which can cause a lot of sleep disruption, or a deviated septum. The septum is the bone and cartilage that separates your nose into the two nostrils, and when that ridge leans to one side it can cause snoring or sleep apnea.

With the availability of having a sleep study while sleeping in your own bed, a wide array of very comfortable masks, and machines that are more portable and smaller, there’s really no reason to put up with frequent bad nights of sleep.

What I find fulfilling about working with the sleep study team is hearing from patients who are now full of energy and life after treating their sleep problems. They were once tired all the time and just struggling to stay awake during the day, and are now patients living full lives again. — NANCY HLAS, Respiratory Manager, Virginia Gay Hospital



If you feel as though you’re not getting the rest you need or you show signs of sleep disorder, schedule an appointment to visit with your primary care doctor or physician assistant (PA).

At that appointment, make sure you voice any concerns you may have about your sleep. Tell them if you experience daytime tiredness, fatigue, snoring, or any other issues in regards to your sleep patterns.

Your doctor or PA may then place an order for a home sleep study which will require a pre-authorization from an insurance company. Make sure you specify that you’d like your home sleep study to go through Virginia Gay Hospital.

Once the pre-authorization is complete, you will receive a phone call from the VGH Respiratory Department to schedule your study. They will send you an information packet that explains the procedure and contains paper work that you will need to complete.

Each patient that participates in a home sleep study will receive an educational session at the hospital to ensure proper use of the equipment and have an opportunity to ask questions and submit the required paperwork. The next day you’ll return the sleep study device to the hospital for analysis. The Sleep Center will review and interpret the data uploaded for you with results usually available within seven business days.

Your results will be returned to your primary care doctor or PA who will notify you with any follow-up care that is needed.
If at any point you have questions or concerns regarding the process, call the VGH Respiratory Therapy Department at (319) 472-6217.

Related Articles:

Common Signs of a Sleep Disorder

Six Concerns on Getting a Sleep Study

12 Tips for a Better Night’s Rest

How Serious is Sleep Apnea?

(These articles are a supplement to Virginia Gay Hospital’s bi-annual, “Thrive” Spring/Summer 2019 issue. An online version of the entire publication is available at myvgh.org/thrive)

An estimated 35% of U.S. adults get less than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep they need. Moreover, poor quality sleep can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Talk to your primary health care provider about your sleep and if a home sleep study through Virginia Gay Hospital is right for you. With a home sleep study, you’ll sleep in the comfort of your bed while a small device monitors your heart rate, oxygen saturation, breathing, and chest wall movement. 

To schedule an appointment with a primary health care provider, call the clinic of your choice: Atkins, Urbana, Van Horne, or Vinton Family Medical Clinic