15 October 2014

A READER ASKS || How do I get my daughter in for a sleep study now that she's an adult?

Dear SleepyHeadCENTRAL: 

My 22-year-old has sleep issues.  She did an overnight study in her early teens at a local hospital and presented with VERY disrupted sleep, but we didn't follow up then because we didn't understand. She recently got Medicaid coverage as a young adult. Do you have a suggestion where to start back in on testing leading to diagnosis and treatment?  I have a feeling it's the root of a lot of issues. I am really hoping to get her on this path.. She's adopted, but I have family members with sleep issues; in fact, three of my five siblings use CPAP machines. At least two of them have narcolepsy.  I know it can really impact all facets of your life. -- Anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

You are absolutely right that disordered sleep can really impact all facets of your life! And when a young person with sleep problems grows into adulthood with the same sleep issues (perhaps worse than they ever were), that can lead to a lifetime of problems not only with sleep but with overall health.

Your daughter will need a referral as patients cannot refer themselves to a sleep center but must go through a physician. She should go to her Medicaid primary care physician, explain her concerns and what she would like to do. She should especially emphasize any coexisting health conditions which may be related to her current sleep problems.

A lot can change to a growing body in a decade, and these days there's so much more evidence of connections between poor sleep and chronic health problems. Treating her sleep problems now means she'll very likely be alleviating some her other health issues as well, maybe even preventing some from developing. Not only does that mean improved quality of life for her, but lower health costs down the line.

It will be up to her doctor to determine the protocol that leads to a referral for a new test, but I would be surprised if they didn't support ordering a new study. Medicaid is quite particular about what it will cover and may require a home sleep test first, so be prepared to do this. Home tests were not available a decade ago and have become a popular and inexpensive option for screening likely overnight test candidates.

If she's okay with it, I'd suggest you attend these consultations with her physicians as an advocate; as her parent, you can offer insights into the reasons behind the first test and explain how you didn't know as much about sleep at that time, which can help to explain why she is still having problems. Doctors are usually supportive when their patients demonstrate a support system has been put in place to help them with potential future therapies.

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