Sleep Disorders Overview


Sleep disorders are quite common in the general population and affect as many as 40 million people in the United States each year. Chronic sleep disorders can cause sleep deprivation and fragmentation and may negatively affect mood, health, longevity, and productivity. Sleep disorders may also contribute to other medical and psychiatric disorders, including depression, cardiac disease, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes.

Patients suffering with sleep disorders can find innovative, patient-centered care at the Sleep Disorders Service at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). As part of the Department of Neurology, the Sleep Disorders Service provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment of all sleep disorders, with a special focus on the relationship between sleep disorders and neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Each neurologist in the Sleep Disorders Service collaborates closely with a large team of clinical specialists to provide comprehensive care for every patient.

Treatment of sleep disorders at BWH

Sleep disorders treatment at BWH includes evaluation and care for:

  • Central sleep apnea, a breathing disorder during sleep where the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the muscles to initiate breathing.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder which occurs when air cannot flow into or out of the person's nose or mouth despite efforts to continue breathing.
  • Circadian rhythm disorders (delayed sleep phase syndrome, shift work disorder).
  • Disorders of primary sleep drive, such as narcolepsy, which causes excessive and overwhelming daytime sleepiness along with possible loss of muscle control, or idiopathic hypersomnia, which involves sleeping too much without an obvious cause.
  • Insomnia, which may involve difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, waking up too early in the morning, or not feeling refreshed after sleep.
  • Parasomnias, such as sleep walking or REM sleep behavior disorders.
  • Restless legs syndrome, in which a person experiences unpleasant sensations in the legs which may interfere with sleep.

Our services include diagnostic at-home tests and in-laboratories the tests, as well as treatments with dental appliances, individual cognitive and behavioral therapy, positive pressure therapy, and surgical options.

In this video, Susan Redline, MD, MPH, Associate Clinical Director of the Sleep Disorders Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discusses sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that is caused when the throat collapses, disrupting oxygen levels to the brain. The mainstay of sleep apnea treatment is continuous positive airway pressure, a simple treatment where air is delivered to the throat and nose under positive pressure to prevent the throat from collapsing. Sleep apnea can affect children, middle-aged individuals and elderly people, men and women. Read the Understanding Sleep Apnea video transcript.

Contact the Sleep Disorders Service

To schedule an appointment with the Sleep Disorders Service or to refer a patient, please contact us at (617) 983-7580.

Patients may also consult with physicians in the Department of Neurology about the entire spectrum of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's disease symptoms and Alzheimer's disease diagnosis, migraine treatment, and an EMG test to detect abnormal muscle electrical an activity. The Department of Neurosurgery provides evaluation and surgical treatment for a broad range of neurological conditions.

Learn more about Sleep Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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