Sleep Disorders Specialist

Bharat Tolia, MD -  - Neurologist

Comprehensive Neurology

Bharat Tolia, MD

Neurologist located in Pontiac, MI

Roughly 50-70 million adults in the United States have a sleep disorder. If you’re one of them, you know the impact of sleep deprivation, from utter fatigue and falling asleep during the day to weight gain and chronic health problems. Dr. Bharat Tolia at Comprehensive Neurology Headache and Sleep Center offers sleep studies and works with each patient to find a solution to their sleep disorder. If you’re ready to get a restorative night’s sleep, call his office in Pontiac, Michigan, or use the online booking feature to schedule a consultation.

Sleep Disorders Q & A

What are the different types of sleep disorders?

There are more than 100 different types of sleep disorders, all of which can affect a person’s overall health and quality of life. Sleep deprivation and health concerns associated with sleep disorders increase the risk for serious health problems, from falling asleep while driving to irregular heart rhythms and weight gain.

The most common sleep disorders include:

  • Insomnia
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Narcolepsy

What causes obstructive sleep apnea?

Muscles relax during sleep, which lets soft tissues such as the tongue move back towards the throat. Snoring occurs when soft tissues partially cover the airway; breathing stops when the airway is completely blocked.

Apnea episodes can happen 30 times or more every hour. As oxygen levels drop, the brain alerts the body to wake up just enough to breathe.

The symptoms of OSA include:

  • Loud, chronic snoring
  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Waking during the night to urinate
  • Memory problems

What is narcolepsy?

Approximately one in every 3000 people have narcolepsy. The symptoms often begin during childhood or adolescence, but may also develop in adults. The core symptoms of narcolepsy are:

Excessive daytime sleepiness

Narcolepsy causes extreme fatigue and makes people fall asleep at inappropriate times during the day.


Cataplexy is a sudden and uncontrollable muscle weakness or paralysis that happens during the day and is triggered by intense emotions. Cataplexy mimics the natural loss of muscle tone and paralysis that occurs during normal rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

How are sleep disorders diagnosed?

A sleep study, or polysomnography, is used to diagnose sleep disorders. During a sleep study, Dr. Tolia records brain waves, oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing while the patient sleeps. He also tracks eye and leg movements.

A sleep study can determine when the patient enters different stages of sleep. The results also show how frequently the patient stops breathing, the length of apnea episodes, and how low levels of oxygen drop.

Dr. Tolia may recommend a daytime sleep study, which is a crucial test for diagnosing narcolepsy.

During a daytime study, the patient is asked to relax and try to fall asleep, then the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, as well as REM sleep, are documented. Another type of daytime sleep study measures the patient’s ability to stay awake, and it may be used to test alertness after starting treatment for a sleep disorder.