A sleep study (also known as a polysomnography) is a comprehensive test used to examine the patient’s sleep quality, which is used to diagnose not only snoring but also sleep apnea, leg movement disorders, parasomnia, and nocturnal seizures, which can all disrupt sleep quality. The doctor will have to evaluate whether this study is appropriate based on the patient’s current condition. A polysomnography records your brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, heart rate and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements during the study. In addition to helping diagnose sleep disorders, polysomnography may be used to help initiate or adjust your treatment plan if you've already been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.
Your doctor may recommend polysomnography if he or she suspects you:
-Have abnormal snoring or have sleep apnea
-Often feel tired during the day or wake up feeling unrested with a headache despite sleeping for a normal period of time
-Have breathing problems or suspected breathing problems during sleep
-Have sleep disorders, such as teeth grinding while asleep, bedwetting, sleepwalking, sleep twitches, nightmares, or disturbed sleep
-Have REM sleep behavior disorders -Snore or have abnormal breathing while sleeping that also suffer from certain health conditions such as kidney problems, high blood pressure, or diabetes, or have had a heart attack. This is in order to
-Your body is not being starved of oxygen during sleep
-Suffer from seizures during sleep or narcolepsy Those who require a diagnosis should be referred to a sleep disorder specialist in order to have their medical history reviewed and undergo a physical examination, both before and after the diagnosis. In order to fully consider all the various options for diagnosing and treating the patient experiencing the symptoms, the patient’s sleeping partner should also attend the sleep lab so that the doctor can ask them about the patient’s sleeping habits. This is beneficial because, due to the nature of some sleep behavior, the person who sleeps with the patient experiencing the symptoms may be able to provide valuable information.
-Sleep studies are an effective way of diagnosing and assessing the severity of the condition, and as such, have a big impact on selecting the most appropriate treatment. These treatments include: Determining the correct pressure for titration when using a machine to widen narrow airways in continuous positive airway pressure treatment (CPAP). Fitting an orthodontic retainer to alter the jaw position and widen airways (oral appliances).
-Sleep studies can effectively diagnose a variety of sleep disorders, especially obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
-Sleep studies can detect muscle twitches and other unusual behaviors during sleep.
-HepAssessments to affirm whether airway surgery is required, and to subsequently monitor the results and progress after surgery. -Helps with diagnosis of other specific diseases, such as narcolepsy.
-Patients may feel unfamiliar with their surroundings which might take a while for them to sleep.
-Patients will have to travel the the sleep center in order to get the test, which may be inconvenient and more daunting for some patients
The sleep study will start in the early evening (at approximately 21.00 hrs., dependent on the individual’s needs). Before beginning the sleep study, the medical staff will gather information from the patient regarding their sleeping habits. This information can be gathered by either asking the patient a set of questions or having the patient fill out a questionnaire. The patient will also have to fill out a consent form. Once this is complete, the hospital staff will explain how the devices work and what will take place during the study. This includes: The patient will usually wear a CPAP mask in cases where there is severe obstructive sleep apnea, as the hospital staff will use this to treat the patient during the second half of the night. Once the patient is ready to go to sleep after showering, the hospital staff will begin attaching the measurement devices for brainwaves, eye movement, muscles under the chin and legs, as well as attach an electrocardiogram. The patient will also have all the various devices and cords attached to their head, face, chin, chest, stomach, and both legs, as well as a pulse oximeter on their finger to measure the oxygen in their blood. A microphone is also attached to the patient’s neck to measure the volume of the patient’s snores. In addition, CCTV recordings will be made as necessary, and these will be monitored by hospital staff from the control room outside the sleep lab so that they are able look after the patient during the study.
A polysomnography is a painless procedure. You should try to avoid sleeping during the day on the same day of the sleep study, as this will affect the quality of your sleep. Be sure to avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages after 2PM, as this will affect the quality of your sleep. If you drink alcohol regularly, you must inform your doctor beforehand. It is recommended that you shower and wash your hair before arriving while avoiding the use of conditioner, hair cream, gel, hair oil or hairspray as this will make it difficult to attach the necessary devices to your head. This is necessary to ensure that the graphs are clear and the results of the measurements are reliable. Avoid applying any powder of cream to your face, chest, or legs so that the measurement devices will stay attached throughout the night. Stop taking any laxatives if you regularly take them as this will cause your sleep to be interrupted during the study. If you usually take sleeping pills, you can take them as normal. You are allowed to continue with your usual medications, including blood pressure medication and diabetes medication amongst many others. During the sleep lab diagnosis, we allow one relative of the patient present to observe, should you request it. Be sure to bring all your bedding and accessories as you would normally use while you sleep, such as your pillow or your pajamas. Aim to arrive at the hospital around 2-3 hours before bedtime, in order to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings, and to allow the hospital staff 30 minutes to attach the various devices for measurement. Please let your doctor know if you are currently suffering from any illness, such as a common cold or flu. After waking up on your own, the sleep study is completed.
After your polysomnography, the sensors attached to you will be removed and you may leave the sleep center. You will be given an appointment for a follow-up visit with the doctor who recommended the test. You can return to your usual activities after polysomnography.
Polysomnography is a noninvasive, painless test. The most common side effect is skin irritation caused by the adhesive used to attach test sensors to your skin.
What does a sleep study look at exactly?
The sleep study will be monitored continuously by a medical professional throughout the night (Comprehensive technician-attended polysomnography). This examination consists of: - Electroencephalography (EEG) for recording brain activity and determining sleep stages - Electrocardiogram under the chin and legs to monitor heart rhythm - Measurement of oxygen in the blood by using pulse oximetry - Monitoring the patient’s breathing - Recording the sound levels of the patient’s snores - Monitoring abnormal eye movement or teeth grinding
What kinds of results can the sleep test tell me?
The measurements recorded during polysomnography provide a great deal of information about your sleep patterns. This may include the following: -Brain waves and eye movements during sleep can help your health care team assess your sleep stages and identify disruptions in the stages that may occur due to sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and REM sleep behavior disorder. -Heart and breathing rate changes and changes in blood oxygen that are abnormal during sleep may suggest sleep apnea. -Correct settings for PAP or oxygen in case your doctor would like to prescribe these for home use. -Frequent leg movements that disrupt your sleep may indicate periodic limb movement disorder. -Unusual movements or behaviors during sleep may be signs of REM sleep behavior disorder or another sleep disorder. The information gathered during polysomnography is evaluated first by a polysomnography technologist, who uses the data to chart your sleep stages and cycles. Then that information is reviewed by your sleep center doctor.
What happens if I am unable to sleep during the sleep test?
Do not worry. We don’t expect you to sleep as well as you would at home, and we take that into account. Nearly everyone can fall asleep during an in-lab study. In most cases, you do not need a full 6 hours of sleep for the doctor to make a diagnosis. There are several things you can do to help you sleep the night of your study. First consider waking a little earlier than usual on the day of your study. Do not take naps during the day. Avoid the consumption of all caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, soda pop, chocolate, and energy drinks.
Am I allowed to sleep on my side? What happens if I move around in my sleep?
To obtain the best results from the study, it is recommended that you sleep in your natural position. Many people roll over and change positions multiple times during the night. While sleep apnea is more prevalent when sleeping on your back, the Technician may ask you to try sleeping on your back for a portion of the test. This allows us to check your breathing in multiple positions.