University Hospitals Geauga Health Center is on a mission to help anyone with a sleep disorder rest easier

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Dr. Eileen Wong is the University Hospitals East Region Sleep Lab Medical Director. She specializes in sleep disorders. (Photography: Felicia Vargo)

By Laura Briedis

Though it is recommended that adults get between seven to eight hours of sleep a night, an alarming 50 million adults have a sleep disorder that prevents them from getting quality sleep.

“We spend one-third of our life sleeping, so quality sleep is important to our overall health,” says Dr. Eileen Wong, University Hospitals East Region Sleep Lab Medical Director.

There are more than 50 types of sleep disorders, which range from sleep apnea to restless leg syndrome, insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep walking and circadian rhythm disorders.

“The most prevalent—and of most concern—is obstructive sleep apnea,” says Dr. Wong. “When I was a primary care doctor in Kansas, more than half of my patients had sleep apnea, so I wanted to learn more about sleep disorders to help improve their quality of life.”

When Dr. Wong moved to Northeast Ohio, she completed a sleep medicine fellowship at UH Cleveland Medical Center, before joining the Geauga staff in 2020, and now is board certified in both internal medicine and sleep medicine.

There are 10 locations across the UH health system that offer in-lab sleep studies, including at UH Geauga Health Center. Each of the four rooms is furnished with a bed, nightstand, TV and windows to provide a comfortable home setting. Patients can bring their own pillows, pajamas, and other personal items for the night.

An in-lab sleep study is the gold standard for diagnosing sleep disorders like sleep apnea. During an in-lab sleep study, patients spend the night in a bedroom in the sleep lab, while being closely monitored for physiologic signs exhibited during the different stages of sleep such as airflow, brain wave activity, heart rhythm, pulse oximetry, breathing effort, arm/leg movements, and snoring.

At-home sleep apnea testing is also available and can be very convenient and ideal if the patient has high probability for sleep apnea. Although at-home sleep apnea testing is less cumbersome, it has some limitations and can sometimes show inconclusive or false-negative results. Currently, all UH sleep labs have their own home sleep apnea test (HSAT) kit device, and a technician in the sleep lab is available to show patients how to hook up the HSAT device to get better, reliable results.

There are 10 locations across the University Hospitals health system that offer in-lab sleep studies, including UH Geauga Health Center. Each of the four rooms is furnished with a bed, nightstand, TV, and windows to provide a comfortable home setting.

After a sleep study either in-lab or at-home, the doctor will determine appropriate therapy, which can include devices to aid the patient’s breathing while sleeping, such as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy, oral appliance, or Inspire. CPAP is still the first line, safest, and most effective treatment for sleep apnea. However, not all patients can tolerate CPAP nor like the idea of wearing mask while on CPAP. If CPAP is not tolerated in a patient with mild to moderate sleep apnea, patients can be referred to a dentist who specializes in sleep medicine for fitting of an oral appliance that can be worn during sleep. An oral appliance, called a customized mandibular advancement device (MAD), moves the lower jaw and tongue forward during sleep so that the tongue won’t fall backwards and close the airway. On the other hand, those who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy and have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea can be referred to an ENT-sleep doctor for implantation of a hypoglossal nerve stimulator called Inspire. Inspire is a battery implanted under the skin of a patient’s chest. Once Inspire is activated and turned on by using a remote control, it stimulates the hypoglossal nerve in the patient’s body to move the tongue forward every time the patient breathes during sleep.

“The first line of treatment is still CPAP,” says Dr. Wong. “CPAP machines have really improved over the years because they are quieter and smaller now, unlike in the past when machines were big, clunky, and noisy. Also, there has been great improvement in mask designs because we now have masks that have a hose coming out on top of the head which suits patients who are side-sleepers, stomach-sleepers, or restless sleepers. Some masks are designed to be under-the-nose for more comfort. Other masks have less straps on the face or memory foam lining.”

Do You Snore?
If you think snoring is part of getting old, just like getting wrinkles, think again. According to Dr. Eileen Wong, snoring can indicate a more serious issue.

“Nine out of 10 people who snore have sleep apnea or a sleep disorder,” she says. “And more than 80% of people with moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea are undiagnosed.”

Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing for short periods while you are asleep, which makes you tired and less alert during the day and can lead to heart problems.

The main symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Other symptoms include:

  • Restless sleep
  • Waking up gasping in the middle of your sleep
  • Morning headaches, dry mouth, or sore throat
  • Waking up often to urinate
  • Waking up feeling unrested or groggy
  • Trouble thinking clearly or remembering things

If you think you may have sleep apnea, contact UH Geauga Health Center’s Sleep Lab, at 216-455-8554.

UH Geauga’s Sleep Lab is located at University Hospitals Geauga Health Center, 13221 Ravenna Road, Medical Building 1, Suite 13, in Chardon. You can learn more at, or make an appointment by calling 216-455-8554.