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Why do I need a sleep study?
Your health care provider has determined that you are having health problems possibly related to poor sleep. Sleep studies will help your health care provider determine whether you have a sleep problem and, if so, what the best treatment options are for you.
The stages of sleep range from light to deep. Each stage has characteristics that can be measured. A sleep study is a number of tests done at the same time during sleep. The tests measure specific sleep characteristics and help to diagnose sleep disorders. A sleep study may also be called polysomnogram. . The goal is to record brain and body activity that occurs during sleep so that sleep disorders can be diagnosed and treated.
What are some of the most common signs of sleep problems?
Snoring loudly during sleep
Stopping breathing during sleep
Sleeping in a fitful or restless manner
Feeling very sleepy during the day
Insomnia (inability to sleep)
Narcolepsy (sudden onset of sleep)
Restless legs syndrome (condition causing uncomfortable leg sensations)
Nightmares during nondream stages of sleep (sleep terrors), sleep walking or talking, and rapid eye movement disorders are less common conditions that may also require a sleep study.
There may be other reasons for your healthcare provider to recommend a sleep study.
If you have one or more of these signs, you may have a sleep problem. Examples of two common sleep problems are: obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which you stop breathing during sleep due to a narrowed or closed airway, and narcolepsy, a condition in which you experience daytime sleepiness and may fall asleep at unexpected times, such as during work, school, or driving. These and other sleep conditions can cause serious health problems and poor quality of life and need to be properly diagnosed and treated
What are the different types of sleep studies?
The evaluation of sleep problems can be done at home or in a specialized sleep center that can study your sleep during the day or at night. The sleep specialist will decide which type of study is best to evaluate your sleep problem.
There are different types of studies conducted at night, called “overnight studies,” and they can be performed at
home or in a sleep lab:
Home sleep testing: This study records breathing rate and airflow, heart rate and oxygen levels and is
performed in the home. A technician will train you in using the equipment and will not be present overnight during the study.
Full Polysomnography: This study is generally performed in a sleep laboratory (lab). Several body functions are measured during sleep including; breathing, heart rate, body movements, brain activity, and eye movements. A technician is available and observing during the study.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Trial: This test is done to see how well you sleep while using nasal continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP), a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea
What are the risks of a sleep study?
There are no known risks for a sleep study other than possible skin irritation due to the attachment of the electrodes to the skin.
How do I get ready for a sleep study?
Your doctor/ sleep technician will explain the procedure and you can ask questions.
Tell your doctor of all medicines (prescription and over-the-counter) and herbal supplements that you are taking. They may alter test results.
Sedatives are not allowed during the sleep study as they can alter results.
A sleep questionnaire or diary may be given to you (and your bed partner, if applicable) to fill out ahead of time. Do your best to give true responses.
Showering before going to the sleep lab may be helpful. But, avoid using lotion or oil on your skin because the electrodes may not stick to the skin.
If needed, you may be able to shower and dress for work the morning after the sleep study.
Based on your condition, your doctor may ask for other preparation.
How Do I Prepare For A Sleep Study?
Eat your regularly scheduled meals the day of your sleep study.
No alcohol, caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soda), or chocolate (foods or drinks) for at least 24 hours before your study.
Ask your health care provider if you should stop any medications before having your sleep study.
The night before your sleep study, go to sleep at your normal bedtime. DO NOT take naps the day of the study.
Shower and wash your hair prior to the study.
DO NOT use make-up, lotion, powders, perfume, and cologne or aftershave on your skin, or conditioners, hair spray or gels in your hair. Oils, gels and sprays can interfere with the recording by the electrodes.
During a sleep study, the following may be measured:
Eye movement. The number of eye movements and their frequency or speed.
Brain activity. The electrical currents of the brain.
Limb movement. The number and intensity of movements.
Breathing patterns. The number and depth of respirations.
Heart rhythm. The electrical activity of the heart.
Oxygen saturation. The percentage of oxygen in the blood.
Acid/base balance of the stomach. The amount of acid secreted during sleep.
Sleep latency. The time it takes to fall asleep.
Sleep duration. The period of time a person stays asleep.
Sleep efficiency. The ratio of the total time asleep to the total time in bed.
What happens after my sleep study?
Your sleep study will be read by a sleep specialist and a final report will be sent to your health care provider after the study. You should schedule a follow-up visit with your health care provider to discuss the results of your study and any treatment that is needed. If the sleep study shows that you need treatment, your health care provider will advise you what you should do. Your health care provider will order the equipment you need, arrange training on how to use the equipment, and schedule any more tests that may be needed.