New venture hoping to defy odds

“America is a tired nation and we’re trying to do what we can to help,” said Stephen Anneberg.

“America is a tired nation and we’re trying to do what we can to help,” said Stephen Anneberg.

A Kenmore resident, Anneberg never said a lack of sleep is what drove the country into its current economic woes. But at a time when many businesses are laying off workers or simply shutting their doors, Anneberg’s new Woodinville Sleep Improvement Center is not only trying to help people get some rest, but also do its part to stimulate at least the local economy.

The sleep center opened its doors on 135th Avenue Northeast April 1 after what its founder said was a fairly rigorous exercise in finding a loan. Not a doctor but a certified sleep diagnostician, Anneberg also happens to have a bachelor’s degree in business. Armed with a three-year business projection, he first started shopping his idea for the sleep center to various banks last year.

“Finding money is a lot more difficult than it used to be,” Anneberg said. “I was basically getting shot down again and again.”

In an odd way, Anneberg said the rejections eventually may prove to have been beneficial. He said they forced him to concentrate and plan for various contingencies, “the what ifs,” as he put it.

Eventually, after working with a single local bank for three months, Anneberg said he was able to gain a Small Business Administration loan for half of his start-up capital.

“We couldn’t have done it without that loan,” he added. “I think maybe it gives people hope to see a new business open in this recession.”

So far, that recession doesn’t seem to be hurting the newly launched venture. Anneberg said about 99 percent of what he does involves sleep diagnostics for patients referred by physicians. The sleep center has a staff physician, or medical director, as well. Many patients end up staying at the center for overnight sleep studies and Anneberg said his rooms are starting to fill up nicely. Those rooms were a focus in planning the center.

“We try to make things as comfortable as possible,” Anneberg said, pointing out the fireplace in the center lobby and the TVs hanging on the walls of the sleep rooms, which more than anything else resemble well-appointed hotel suites.

According to Anneberg, the most common sign of a sleep problem is excessive or loud snoring. Having difficulty falling asleep at night and waking up multiple times during the night are other common signs of possible sleep disorders. Anneberg said persons with a sleep problem might wake up dozens of times a night and not even realize it.

During the day, one might also watch out for unexpected tiredness, falling asleep while reading or even driving or waking up in the morning with headaches.

Patients booked for overnight sleep studies can expect to be hooked up to various monitors, which check heartbeat, respiration and take other measurements. The most common serious problem looked for is sleep apnea, in which the patient stops breathing during sleep. The resulting snoring is actually air trying to escape the patient’s body, Anneberg said. He added the links between apnea and heart problems are well documented.

Most commonly, apnea is treated with what is known as a CPAP machine, which includes a mask that forces air into the sleeper’s body, keeping internal airways open.

Beginning as a sleep technician some 10 years ago, Anneberg said he deliberately stayed away from “the 20th floor of some medical building” in finding a spot for the sleep center. He said there was a real need for a center such as his outside of downtown Seattle or Bellevue.

“It’s a roll of the dice to be sure,” he said. “But I feel very strongly about the potential success of the business.”

Anneberg plans a grand opening from 4-7 p.m. May 14. Visit or call (425) 286-6256 for more information.