By Camille Gillies
If you are plagued by poor sleep habits or quality, you’re not alone. According to John Evans, the principal owner of the recently opened Wesley Chapel and Lutz offices of Starlight Medical Group, 5 percent-8 percent of the U.S. population has some sort of sleep disorder. That is why Evans has teamed up with sleep specialists Richard S. Powell, M.D., and Robin J. Trupp, Ph.D., ARNP-BC, to bring these medical services to sleep-seeking residents of Wesley Chapel and New Tampa.
The group has begun seeing patients at its new Wesley Chapel medical office and overnight sleep lab located off of Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., across from the site of the under-construction Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, as well as at the Lutz location off of S.R. 54.
“Sleep disorders really affect your quality of life,” says Evans, who oversees business operations for the centers. “They can cause hypertension, headaches, excessive daytime sleepiness, loss of concentration, less energy, difficulty with weight loss, depression and irritability.” Sleep deprivation has also been linked to automobile accidents, stroke, diabetes and mortality.
Considering that millions of Americans have sleep disorders, many people are waking up feeling tired. In fact, Evans says that one in 15 Americans has sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing, due to the inability to get air into the lungs while asleep. If the sound of your snoring rattles the windows in the next room or drives your partner to sleep in another end of the house, you may have sleep apnea. Many people don’t even know they have it, and if left untreated, it can be life threatening.
Evans says that Starlight Medical Group diagnoses and treats many sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, as well as the following sleep problems:
Chronic insomnia — the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. A red flag is when sleeplessness persists three nights a week for a month or more.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) — which affects 12 million Americans. Symptoms are often a creepy-crawly sensation in the extremities, primarily the legs. An irresistible urge to move the legs to stop the unpleasant sensation can cause difficulty in falling and staying asleep.
Narcolepsy — a disorder in the brain that constantly interrupts both sleep and awake cycles, preventing you from staying awake. It can be triggered by a variety of factors, including strong emotions of joy or sadness and loud noises.
If you visit Starlight’s website (StarLightMedicalGroup.com), you’ll find that it offers additional information about all of these conditions, including interesting video clips of basketball star Shaquille O’Neal dealing with sleep apnea and an LPGA golfer with narcolepsy.
If you suspect you have any type of sleep disorder, Starlight Medical Group offers free telephone consultations. On the hotline, one of the medical experts will help determine if you have a problem that warrants a visit to the center. You may even find out that you are concerned unnecessarily, and the phone consultation will not only guide you in the right direction, it will also save you the time and money involved in a needless visit.
A Top-Notch Team
Starlight’s Board-certified team of professionals is well-versed in the field.
“Dr. Powell has more than 30 years of experience in the Tampa Bay area, including a longstanding reputation in Brandon,” says Evans, “He is Board-certified in sleep medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care and internal medicine.”
A graduate of the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, Dr. Powell completed his post-doctorate fellowship training at the University of South Florida’s (USF) College of Medicine. Robin Trupp received her Ph.D. from Ohio State University, in Columbus, where she researched obstructive sleep apnea in patients with cardiovascular disease. She also is a Board-certified advanced practice Registered Nurse.
If your conversation with one of these two specialists indicates the need for an office visit, the first thing you will do is complete a 14-page questionnaire to determine the sleep “hygiene” factors that could be contributing to your problem.
“We don’t mean hygiene in the cleanliness sense,” explains Evans. “We try to determine the contributing factors (to your problem). For example, it could be your bedroom environment. Many people don’t realize that some pets are nocturnal and having them in the same bed with you or in the same room may interrupt your sleep cycles. Or, you could be drinking caffeine or exercising too late in the day. We also ask about family history and medications you may be taking. A wide spectrum of issues needs to be addressed to determine your individual problem. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.”
A few things Evans recommends to improve sleep quality are having a regular bedtime, and sleeping in a cool, dark place. He also stresses that you “can’t make up sleep on the weekends” and notes that problems also can arise from too much sleep.
If the medical professionals feel you need the center’s help, they may schedule a diagnostic sleep study, in which a sleep technician monitors your sleep throughout the night. This study takes place in a comfortable bedroom located within the sleep lab. The patient is hooked up to numerous electrodes that enable the technician to view and analyze the patient from a remote location in the office. Additional types of sleep studies are available, depending upon the problem, but all take place in the comfortable bedrooms that Starlight has created to mimic the way you would sleep in your own home.
“We’re trying to make it as comfortable for the patients as possible,” says office coordinator Christy McCluskey. At our press time, she had just finished putting up curtains and pictures in the brand-new Wesley Chapel facility. The freshly painted rooms, with their fluffy beds and comforters, look more like hotel rooms than places where medical studies are conducted.
Evans emphasizes that Starlight provides a strong support group, especially for sleep apnea patients who must adjust to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) breathing apparatus.
“We offer follow-up support to patients for a year after their diagnosis, so they have relatively high levels of compliance,” he says, adding that the success rate for sleep apnea patients is 75 percent-85 percent.
“Some patients swear by their CPAP machines and travel with them,” Evans adds. “They find that using it really enhances the quality of their day.”
This is only the beginning of Evans’ business aspirations for Starlight Medical Group. He says sleep medicine is a growing field, and he plans to open more of these sleep centers in communities of 35,000-50,000 people. “It’s a physician-driven practice that also has a sleep lab right on site. It is so convenient for patients.”
There is no doubt Starlight Medical Group will provide welcome relief to scores of people who are simply trying to get a good night’s sleep.
This is what Evans says you should do if you think you have a sleep disorder: First, visit StarLightMedical Group.com, take advantage of Starlight’s free phone consultation and then, go see them if you have to!
Starlight accepts most major medical insurance plans, and Evans says the sleep evaluation and studies are covered by most insurance plans.
The Wesley Chapel location of Starlight Medical Group is at 2621 Windguard Cir., in the Windfair Professional Center, located directly behind Dickey’s BBQ on BBD Blvd. For more info, call 994-2729 or visit StarLightMedicalGroup.com.