Sleep Disorders Conditions We Treat

The providers in the Sleep Disorders Clinic at Virginia Mason provide diagnosis and treatment for people of all ages experiencing problems with poor sleep. To learn more about the diagnosis and treatment options regarding the common conditions we treat, call (206) 625-7180.

Common Sleep Disorders Treated at Virginia Mason

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing during sleep is not normal. In more severe forms, a person will have episodes in which there is complete absence of breathing (apnea). Even though there are frequent, brief awakenings from sleep in order to re-start breathing, the person with sleep apnea is usually unaware of the problem.

Sleep apnea will include some combination of the following: snoring, gasping, difficulty falling asleep, frequent waking (often to go to the bathroom), restless sleep, excessive tiredness or sleepiness in the day. Since sleep apnea can contribute to potentially serious medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, evaluation of possible sleep apnea may be warranted even if the person does not feel that he or she has any problems with poor sleep or tiredness. The complete evaluation of sleep apnea usually involves a sleep test, which plays a role in the treatment decision-making process. To schedule an appointment with a sleep apnea specialist, call (206) 625-7180.

   [Back to Top]


Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early in the morning, or experiencing sleep that is not good quality. Many people with this disorder have some combination of the above, which leads to problems with daytime functioning. There are many factors that contribute to insomnia. Poor sleep habits, medicine side effects, medical conditions, difficulty with excessive thinking in bed, and stress, are just a few of the possibilities. After a thorough evaluation, patients with insomnia gain a better understanding of why they are not able to sleep.
Individualized treatment plans may include medications (sleeping pills) and/or cognitive-behavioral treatment (ways to improve the way you sleep that are not related to medications). The Virginia Mason Sleep Disorders Clinic is one of the few centers in the country to offer this innovative treatment approach. To schedule an appointment with an insomnia specialist, call (206) 625-7180.

   [Back to Top]

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a very common disorder in which a person will feel some discomfort in the legs that makes that person want to move, wiggle, stretch or massage the leg until the feeling goes away. It is most noticed during periods of rest in the evening or night, and has the possibility of interfering with sleep quality. To schedule an appointment with a restless legs syndrome specialist, call (206) 625-7180.


Narcolepsy is a disorder in which a person experiences severe sleepiness in the day, sometimes to the point where sleep seems irresistible. One symptom that is highly suggestive of narcolepsy is "cataplexy," a sudden, brief episode of muscle weakness that is usually triggered by an emotion such as laughter. The muscles involved are usually those in the legs or the jaw. To schedule an appointment with a narcolepsy specialist, call (206) 625-7180.

   [Back to Top]

Shift Work Sleep Disorder

Shift work is an increasing problem in which sleep is disturbed due to the fact that a person has to work during hours in which he or she would otherwise be asleep. The most severe case of this is for the "graveyard," or "night" shift. However, even people who have to wake up very early to beat the traffic or "swing" shift workers who get home late at night, can have significant problems with their ability to sleep and function at their best while awake. In some ways, the definition of "shift work" can be expanded even to include many teenagers, who may have a tendency to stay up late, but struggle to wake up in the morning for school. Another example of this sleep disorder occurs when a person has to travel to other time zones and has to adjust quickly. Virginia Mason can provide assessment and solutions for these kinds of challenges. To schedule an appointment with a shift work sleep medicine specialist, call (206) 625-7180.

   [Back to Top]


Sleepwalking and other sleep-related behaviors are called parasomnias. People who experience parasomnias are often the last to know what they are doing while asleep. However, these behaviors may have negative consequences. Some people can be violent towards their bedpartners, whereas others may binge eat. Many children may "outgrow" sleepwalking, but if it occurs very frequently or persists beyond a certain age, evaluation for the cause and possible treatment is indicated. To schedule an appointment with a sleep apnea specialist, call (206) 625-7180.

   [Back to Top]