Southeast Houston Sleep Medicine

SERVICES

Southeast Houston Sleep Medicine offers a variety of services for
patients with sleep disorders.

CONSULTATIONS

Dr. Louis Hamer offers consultations regarding a wide variety of sleep problems including sleep apnea, insomnia, sleepwalking and chronic fatigue. Although many patients are referred by area physicians, patients are welcome to call for an  appointment on their own. The standard consultation requires a history of problems related to sleeping, sleep routines, and general health information. During the history, we encourage family members to share their observations of the patient’s snoring, breathing or behavior during sleep. Family members often provide important information, because many symptoms occur during sleep, such as leg movements, snoring and abnormal breathing.

Consultations include a physical examination. We are specifically interested in the facial structure and anatomy of the throat. We look for anatomical features such as small airways, large tonsils, prior trauma, small chins or anything else that could affect the upper airway while the patient sleeps. Listening to the heart and lungs helps rule out cardiopulmonary disease, which sometimes causes frequent awakening related to asthma, congestive heart failure, or other conditions not generally classified as sleep disorders. Based on the results of the interview and physical examination, Dr. Hamer will recommend further diagnostic testing, such as an overnight sleep study, multiple sleep latency test or home pulse oximeter, behavioral interventions, or medications. In some cases, reassurance may be the only necessary treatment.

POLYSOMNOGRAPHY

Southeast Houston Sleep Medicine utilizes a variety of different freestanding laboratories and hospital-based laboratories to do diagnostic testing. The most common diagnostic test is polysomnography. A polysomnogram is an overnight sleep study monitored continuously by a trained technician. The patient arrives at the laboratory at eight or nine at night and leaves at six or seven the next morning. 

During the night, the technician monitors the patient’s breathing patterns, oxygen level, heart rate, eye movements, brain waves, and leg movements. In addition, the technician looks for any other unusual activity or behaviors during sleep. A small microphone helps determine the degree of snoring. Based on the results of the polysomnogram, we can diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and decide whether it is mild, moderate, or severe. Polysomnograms also detect nocturnal seizures, sleepwalking and any movement that may repeatedly awaken the patient, such as kicking or frequent leg movements.


MULTIPLE SLEEP LATENCY TESTS

Multiple sleep latency tests are a series of naps. After sleeping for six to eight hours, we observe the patient in the sleep lab in a quiet environment at two-hour intervals. During these periods, we are seeing if patients fall asleep spontaneously, or if they transition directly from the awake state into the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep. Based on these results, we can diagnose conditions such as narcolepsy or idiopathic hypersomnolence (excessive sleepiness).

MAINTENANCE OF WAKEFULNESS TEST

The maintenance of wakefulness test is often requested by employers to assess if employees with sleep disorders are able to stay awake while performing critical duties. Many truck companies, petrochemical plants, airlines, and military facilities request that employees with sleep disorders undergo this test. The test requires the patient to remain in a quiet environment with no stimuli for forty minutes after receiving a full night’s sleep. The test is repeated four to five times in order to obtain an average sleep latency (the time interval from the beginning of the session to when the subject falls asleep). Employers use this number in consultation with the a physician’s consultation to determine the risk of an employee falling asleep in a dangerous situation.