More people than ever are seeking treatment for sleep disorders. Now, Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines has a state-of-the-art facility to keep up with the demand. A public open house will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the new Mercy Sleep Center , located in Clive. Doctor Donald Burrows is director the center and says it’s designed primarily for patient comfort.

"The sleep rooms, where people get tested, are very quiet and inviting with lots of space," Burrows said. "We were always very crowded for space (in the old building) and fitting into areas that weren’t designed for sleep rooms, dealing with various noise problems and things of that nature." The old building, on the Mercy campus in Des Moines, was opened in 1984. Doctor Burrows says he remembers attending medical school in the late 1970s, when sleep disorders were not even part of the curriculum.

"So, things have changed dramatically. We’re now a mainstream, if you will, science and branch of medicine," Burrows said. "Because of that, we’re learning something almost all the time. Everything we learn only implies how significant sleep is to our health and it cuts across many different medical specialties." Last year, the Mercy Sleep Center conducted over 25-hundred (2,500) sleep studies, an increase of nearly 20 percent compared to 2006. The most common diagnosed problems involve sleep apnea or abnormal breathing.

Burrows estimates between 60 and 80% of the patients they see have sleep apnea or a breathing disorder. "There are also a variety of other sleep disorders that keep people from functioning well during the day," Burrows said. Mercy officials are leasing the new office building in Clive, but spent $1.3 million on new computers and other equipment for the facility.