Sleep Disorders

We spend a third of our lives asleep, so it’s no wonder it is a vital part of good health. It is estimated that two-thirds of Americans will complain of sleep related problems during the course of their lives. Sleep medicine is a important part of our practice at Pulmonary Associates of the Southeast. Common disorders evaluated and treated include obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome/periodic limb movement disorder, narcolepsy and insomnia. We have physicians board certified in sleep medicine and direct the sleep lab at Trinity Medical Center Sleep Disorders Center in Birmingham. Please see Trinity Medical's Sleep Disorder Center for more information.


Commonly known as a “sleep study,” polysomnography is a vital tool in the evaluation of sleep disorders. Extensive physiologic data is recorded overnight utilizing painless surface electrodes attached to the patient’s skin, measuring electroencephalography (EEG), electrocardiography (ECG) and electromyography (EMG). In addition, special sensors are used to monitor respiratory function during sleep. More information about polysomnography can be found HERE

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder, affecting approximately 4% of all Americans. However, the prevalence of OSA increases dramatically with aging, obesity and many chronic illnesses. Patients with OSA frequently snore and have repetitive collapse of the upper airway, leading to nocturnal arousals and un-refreshing sleep. Extensive research has linked OSA directly to hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and shortened life span. It is most commonly treated with air pressure devices that prevent airway closure known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). More information about OSA can be found HERE

Restless Legs Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Up to 10% of the population suffers from restless legs syndrome (RLS), which is associated with the uncontrollable urge to move the extremities combined with unusual “creepy crawly” sensations and numbness and tingling of the limbs. An associated condition known as periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) occurs during sleep causing frequent awakenings and daytime sleepiness. There are effective medications available to treat these disorders, and iron deficiency can be a cause of both RLS and PLMD. Please see HERE for more information.


This rare disorder is associated with severe daytime sleepiness and abnormal dream state/wakefulness transition. It is diagnosed by a form of daytime nap polysomnography known as multiple sleep latency testing. Narcolepsy can be effectively treated with medications. For more information regarding narcolepsy, please see HERE

Circadian Disorders

Complex regions of the brain and the retina govern the human bodies 24 hour rhythm, influencing the natural tendency to be asleep or awake, as well as many other vital bodily functions. This day/light clock phenomenon of the body is known as the circadian rhythm. Disruptions to circadian rhythm are common, causing severe sleepiness and include shift work disorder, delayed sleep phase syndrome and advanced sleep phase syndrome. These disorders are frequently diagnosed by history, sleep logs and a special electronic wrist watch that detects sleep/wake cycles known as actigraphy. Treatment of circadian disorders is challenging, but frequently involves medications and properly timed exposure to bright light. Please see HERE for more information about circadian disorders.


Difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep is known as insomnia. This is a very common disorder affecting 12% of the population or 32 million Americans. It can be seen in a variety of conditions, but frequently occurs secondary to chronic medical illnesses and psychiatric disorders. Evaluation of insomnia usually does not require polysomnography, unless OSA or PLMD are suspected. Special psychological treatment known as cognitive behavioral therapy is often an effective treatment of insomnia. Medications can also be utilized. For more information about insomnia, please see HERE

Please contact Pulmonary Associates of the Southeast (205 802-2000) or the Trinity Sleep Disorders Center (205 599-2350) for an appointment with one of our physicians or for any questions about sleep health. We see patients 5 years old and above for sleep disorder evaluation.