What Exactly Is A Sleep Study?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that needs to be treated. The most common test to determine if a person has sleep apnea is by undergoing a sleep study. Sleep studies are tests that record what happens to your body when you are asleep. The studies are done to find out what is causing your sleep problems.
Here is a diagram of a person being hooked up in preparation for a sleep study.
Sleep studies can also determine whether you have a problem with your stages of sleep. The two main types of sleep are non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). A change in this cycle may also make it hard for you to sleep soundly.
The most common form of sleep study is called a Polysomnogram. This type of test is usually done by a trained sleep lab technician in a special sleep lab, usually scheduled for evening and night hours between 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. You would normally arrive at the sleep clinic around 10 p.m. and complete some paperwork. Once the paperwork is completed, you are then taken into a private room where you change into suitable clothing for bedtime.
Here is a short video on what you can expect when going for a sleep study. As well, the video also explains what the technician or doctor is looking for during the test.
Small pads or patches called electrodes will be placed on your head and body with a small amount of glue and tape. The process of preparing you with all the electrodes takes upwards of 45 minutes. These electrodes record several body functions during sleep, including brain activity, eye movement, oxygen and carbon dioxide blood levels, heart rate and rhythm, breathing rate and rhythm, the flow of air through your mouth and nose, snoring, and body muscle movements. There are two soft elastic belts that are also used in the test. One will be placed around your chest and the other around your belly to measure your breathing. Your blood oxygen levels will be checked by a small clip (oximeter) placed either on the tip of your index finger or on your earlobe.
Once all the electrodes and belts have been attached, the technician will want to test to make sure the equipment is working correctly. At the beginning of the test, the technician will ask you to do things such as blink your eyes, move your legs, and hold your breath.
When you are ready and the equipment is working correctly, the lights will be turned off, and you can go to sleep. For most polysomnogram studies, you will need to spend at least 6 hours overnight in the sleep lab. The room also has a camera which will allow the technician to monitor you while you sleep.
When The Sleep Study is Completed
After the sleep study test is over, the technician will remove all the electrodes and ask you to complete some final paperwork. You are then free to leave. It’s best to go home and shower and shampoo to remove the glue from your hair and body. Hair conditioner may also help get the glue out of your hair. The results of your sleep study test will be sent to your sleep specialist who will go over the results with you at a follow up appointment.