Dr. John Burk, Medical Director, recognized the importance of sleep medicine early in his pulmonology career. He opened a sleep laboratory in 1982 and was joined by sleep specialist Dr. Edgar Lucas as Director of Sleep Consultants, Inc. in 1984. Dr. Lucas came from a university-based sleep laboratory and spent his entire career in sleep research and clinical sleep medicine. Dr. Don Watenpaugh joined the group in 2004. He also entered clinical sleep medicine from a research career. Dr. Watenpaugh earned board certification and took over as Director in 2005 when Dr. Lucas retired.
Sleep Consultants, Inc. is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. Our six-bed sleep laboratory is at 2941 Oak Park Circle, Suite 200, Fort Worth, and our main office is at 1521 Cooper Street. We collaborate on research projects with the Biomedical Engineering program at UT Arlington, the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, and with pharmaceutical companies.
There are at least 30 clinically distinct causes of excessive sleepiness, 10 types of insomnia, and 20 other types of sleep problems besides these! We differ from most other sleep facilities in the Metroplex by offering diagnosis and treatment of all sleep problems (not just sleep apnea), a full range of treatment options for sleep disorders, and follow-up care for our patients. Sleep apnea is by far the most common sleep problem we encounter. Sleep apnea consists of repeated choking episodes during sleep that disrupt sleep, reduce blood oxygen levels, and cause a wide variety of other health problems. Sleep apnea is often, but not always, associated with loud snoring. Insomnia, the inability to initiate or maintain sleep, is also common, and is usually caused by other factors which we identify. We then seek to treat the cause of the insomnia, because this is usually much more effective than treating insomnia as a symptom. Other disorders that interfere with sleep include restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, circadian rhythm problems (as from shift work), narcolepsy, and various parasomnias. Many medicines given to treat other medical problems interfere with sleep, but doctors prescribing these medications don’t always know about sleep side effects. We see patients age 6 and older, and we are currently helping Cook Children’s Medical Center operate their new sleep laboratory for younger patients.
The first step towards help with a sleep problem is referral to our office by a primary care physician or other medical professional. The patient then fills out a comprehensive questionnaire, and one of our staff members reviews the responses with the patient during an in-office evaluation of the sleep complaint(s). After this evaluation and a brief physical examination, a laboratory sleep study is usually scheduled to document and quantify any sleep problems. You will have an appointment to review the findings with a sleep specialist and to discuss treatment recommendations. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) provides the most reliable and effective known treatment for sleep apnea. Air pressure holds the airway open during sleep so it can’t collapse: snoring and choking stop. We also house a dental clinic to offer treatment of sleep apnea with custom-fitted oral appliances. Medications and/or lifestyle changes treat many other sleep problems. Follow-up appointments are usually necessary to establish and maintain successful treatment of sleep disorders.