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How sleep studies can help identify sleep disorders

Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep? A sleep study might help you find out why.

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to good health. If you don’t sleep well or get enough shut-eye, it can affect how you feel the next day. You may be tired, cranky, unproductive and miserable.

If poor sleep is more the norm than the exception, not sleeping enough can also wreak havoc on your health.

“Poor sleep has been linked to a number of chronic conditions,” said Gavin Pinkston, MD, a family medicine physician with Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG) Primary Care and Pediatrics in Columbia. “If you struggle to fall asleep, wake frequently, feel tired throughout the day, snore or have any other symptoms of a sleep disorder, you should talk with your physician about a sleep study.”

Some people label themselves as “bad” sleepers and simply accept that they don’t sleep well. But in many cases, there are underlying causes that affect a person’s sleep. If the cause is treated, often the quality or quantity of sleep improves.

Sleep studies can assist with diagnosing a variety of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, insomnia and sleepwalking.

During the study, an individual is monitored with devices thar record heart rate, snoring, airflow, oxygen levels, brain waves and movement in the muscles and eyes. The data is interpreted by a board-certified sleep medicine physician and shared with the patient’s physician.

Dr. Pinkston said some patients are hesitant to go through with a sleep study because of the airway devices used, such as a CPAP or BiPAP. However, the devices are becoming more comfortable, quiet and efficient as the technology approves, and there are a variety of non-airway device options available depending on the severity of a patient’s obstructive sleep apnea.

“Don’t let the fear of the device keep you from going through with a sleep study if your physician has recommended one,” Dr. Pinkston said. “Getting good sleep is essential to good health. I have had patients with life-changing results in multiple areas of their personal health after they participated in sleep studies.”

Sleep studies at Maury Regional Health require a physician’s order and are offered at Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, Marshall Medical Center in Lewisburg, Wayne Medical Center in Waynesboro and the Maury Regional Sleep Center in Lawrenceburg.

To learn more about sleep studies at MRH, visit

Here are some of the most common causes of sleep problems:

  • Medications – Some over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications can interfere with sleep. If you’ve recently started a new medication and notice you’re having sleep difficulties, ask a doctor or pharmacist if the medication may be to blame. Blood pressure medications and antidepressants, as well as OTC medications containing caffeine or stimulants, are some of the most common sleep-disrupting culprits.
  • Medical conditions – Some chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, GERD, asthma, cancer, arthritis, Parkinson’s and others, can interfere with your sleep.
  • Sleep disorders – Sleep-specific health conditions, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, can affect sleep quality. Treating the sleep disorder can help you enjoy more restful sleep. Since sleep apnea causes you to periodically stop breathing through the night, it is especially important to treat sleep apnea if you have it because it can contribute to other serious health issues. If you suspect you have this condition, see a doctor and get tested.
  • Stress – Stress can keep your mind active at night and is one of the leading causes of sleep issues. Left unchecked, stress can lead to temporary or chronic insomnia. Find ways to better manage stress during the day and you may find you sleep better at night. A mental health professional may help you get sleep-disturbing stress under control.
  • Evening habits – What you do before you get into bed can have a major effect on your sleep. Try not to eat too much late in the evening or exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you up at night. Create a relaxing pre-bedtime routine that doesn’t include screen time (blue light can mess with your sleep) and a comfortable environment that encourages restful sleep (not too warm/hot, quiet, etc.)
  • Schedule changes – Your circadian rhythm is like a natural internal clock that tells your body when to sleep and when to wake. When you travel, have changing work shifts or stay up late/sleep in on the weekends, disruptions to your circadian rhythm may make it hard to fall or stay asleep, leading to insomnia.


Gavin Pinkston, MD, is a family medicine physician with Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG) Primary Care and Pediatrics in Columbia.



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Date Last Reviewed: January 19, 2023
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