Sleep Disorders Associated With Neuromuscular Conditions

There are many medical conditions that can cause -- or exacerbate -- sleep issues. If you have a neuromuscular condition, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), that affects your ability to breathe, you may be especially at risk of sleep disturbances. Our team of multidisciplinary sleep experts can help greatly improve your quality of life by helping you get more restful sleep.

Neuromuscular conditions that affect breathing and sleep

Any disease or condition that affects your muscles’ ability to expand your lungs and breathe fully can cause sleep disturbances such as sleep apnea. At Henry Ford, our sleep experts work closely with our pulmonologists and neurologists to identify and treat sleep disorders that occur with the following conditions:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) 
  • Spinal cord injuries 
  • Scoliosis

Evaluation and diagnosis

Our doctors do a complete evaluation of breathing function to help determine how your lungs may be impacting your sleep issues. An at-home overnight oximetry study (which records your pulse and oxygen levels during sleep) can provide your doctor with valuable information. And because breathing tends to get even more shallow during sleep (especially in patients whose muscle weakness affects the diaphragm), we may also recommend doing a sleep lab study to more closely analyze your condition.

Treatment

After a thorough evaluation and diagnosis, our sleep specialists will work with you to find the most effective, sleep-enhancing solution. For patients whose breathing difficulties impact their sleep, we often recommend overnight use of a Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) machine.

BiPAP helps expand the lungs by using pressure both as you inhale and exhale to help keep the airways open. By using a BiPAP machine overnight (and sometimes during the day as the disease progresses), patients with ALS are able to prolong their lives by six months to a year.

Patients who start using BiPAP will spend a night in one of our sleep labs for observation. There, our experts can fine-tune the exact amount of pressure needed for their breathing capacities .

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