Sleep Lab

The Sleep Lab at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Audrain is dedicated to the study and treatment of sleep apnea and related ailments. More than 30 studies are being performed monthly. Patients involved in a sleep lab study are observed by a digital video camera during sleep. A computerized digital based system monitors brain activity, air movement for breathing, heart, oxygen, leg movement, chest and abdominal movement for volume of air in and out, as well as sleep positions.

About Sleep . . .

The quality of our sleep has a direct impact on the quality of our life. Few people, however, recognize the importance of adequate rest, or are aware that effective methods of preventing and managing sleep apnea now exist.

Need for Sleep . . .

Sleep is not merely a break time between busy routines. Sleep is essential to physical and emotional health.

Adequate sleep helps bodies recover from illness and injury and carries mental benefits as well. Not enough sleep can impair ability in regard to memory, learning, logical reasoning and mathematical calculations.

Even occasional sleeping problems can make life feel more stressful or make us less productive at work. Insufficient sleep can strain relationships and can lead to dangerous fatigue-related accidents.

Statistics . . .

  • 18 million Americans suffer from Sleep Apnea.
  • In adults 35 years and older, 9% of males and 6% of females may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
  • 90% of the population goes undiagnosed due to lack of knowledge.
  • 38,000 die annually from cardiopulmonary problems associated with sleeping disorders.

Sleep Disorders . . .

Sleep Apnea is a chronic medical condition where the affected person repeatedly stops breathing during sleep. These episodes last 10 seconds or more and cause oxygen levels in the blood to drop. 

Dr. Gene Thomas, DO, Pulmonologist and Medical Director of the Sleep Lab noted, “Most sleep problems are caused by difficulty in breathing or abnormal breathing patterns related to obstruction of the upper airway. The most common sleep disorder, affecting more than 18 million Americans, is known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This is a life-threatening and life-altering condition that causes a person to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep. This occurs when tissues in the throat collapse and block the flow of air in and out of the lungs during sleep. As a result, the body doesn’t get enough oxygen. Another form of sleep disorder is Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), which results from the brain not signaling the body to breathe. There is no airflow because there is no effort to breathe, and sleep is often disrupted. It can cause and worsen other medical conditions, including hypertension, heart failure, diabetes, and an increased risk of stroke. In addition it can cause an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents or accidents at work. In the Sleep Lab we are able to observe the most common signs of sleep disorder - snoring and restless sleep -allowing us to treat patients.”

Symptoms of a sleep disorder may include:

  • Snoring, interrupted by pauses in breathing 
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Excessive sleepiness/fatigue during the day
  • Poor judgment or concentration
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Large neck size (17” in men; 16” in women)
  • Crowded airway
  • Morning headache
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Frequent urination at night

Sleep Study . . .

After a referral for a sleep test by your physician, you will arrive at the Sleep Room in the late evening. St. Mary’s Hospital – Audrain has two rooms specifically used for Sleep Studies. These rooms offer a home-like atmosphere for the patient. Each room has a queen size bed and the mattress is memory foam and a private shower. A recliner and a flat screen television are available to patients to enjoy until “lights out”. 

Depending on the scope of the study, it takes about 20 - 45 minutes to complete the sensor assembly. A complete sleep study requires that sensors be placed on various sites on the body such as the chin, the legs and the torso. Once the sensors are in place, you can go to sleep.

In most cases, if the sleep study reveals a significant level of sleep apnea, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) Therapy is recommended. This method of treatment delivers a small amount of air pressure through a mask during sleep. This pressurized air prevents the airway from collapsing so that air can flow freely to and from the lungs. With proper treatment, people with sleep apnea can increase the quality of life with less daytime drowsiness, improved memory and concentration, better work performance and less health risks. 

Any physician is able to refer you to the Sleep Lab. Some physicians refer directly to Dr. Gene Thomas. The Sleep Lab number is 573-582-8031.


AMC Babies          Sleep Study Quiz