Your sleep patterns are off. And you – and your partner – are exhausted. If your doctor recommends you undergo a sleep study, you may wonder to expect. Will you be suspended in mid-air? Strapped onto a hulking device? Observed behind a glass window by scientists, clipboard in hand? Before you cancel your appointment, know that none of this is true. Here is what a sleep study actually entails, and why it is the best first step to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Why a Sleep Study?
A sleep study, also known as a polysomnography, is a non-invasive protocol doctors use to diagnose sleep disorders such as insomnia, apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome. The only way to accurately diagnose these and other sleep-depriving conditions is at night, while you are sleeping, not in a daytime office setting. It is through a sleep study that your doctor can monitor and track your brain and body while you are sleeping.
What to Expect During Your Study
When you arrive at the sleep laboratory, the sleep technicians will go over your paperwork and health history and inform you of what will go on in the study; they will also collect your vitals. A technician will then attach electrodes with sensors to your body (including your legs) and a belt will be placed around your waist and abdomen. The wires will be hooked to the polysomnogram while the sensors monitoring your brain will let the technicians know if and when you’ve fallen asleep. The belt around your waist and abdomen will measure breathing, and a clip on your finger will measure oxygen levels in the bloodstream. A cannula is placed on your nose to track breathing and a microphone on your throat will track snoring. Depending on the recommendation of your doctor, you may need to wear a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
Information Collected in a Sleep Study
While you sleep, trust that sleep technicians in another room are monitoring and recording information such as your eye movements, oxygen levels, sleep stages, heart and breathing rates, snoring, and body movements; they also will note any disturbance that occurs during sleep. The resulting data will be sent to your doctor for a full evaluation. Once a determination or diagnosis has been made, your doctor will work with you to develop a plan to help you sleep better; this plan may include referrals to other specialists, as well as recommendations to help you adjust your sleep patterns for the better.
A Highly Technical Procedure
You can expect your sleep laboratory is be designed for comfort; it is not a cold and dank clinical setting. The temperature is soothing, the bed is comfortable – not a cot or gurney, and the room is dark to affect a natural, familiar setting. Know that a full night’s sleep is not required to gather pertinent information in a sleep study. Also know that the sleep study is not only about observation and note taking; it is a highly complex and technical procedure that entails the use of the use of computers, a polysomnogram, and EEG and EKG monitors. Only a licensed registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) can administer a sleep study so you are in good hands.
Austin’s Sleep Study Specialists
If you are losing sleep because of snoring or don’t feel fully rested after a full night’s sleep, it could be sinus or breathing problems, allergies, or something else. A sleep study can reveal any of these conditions and lead to treatment. Why risk another restless night? Contact the Nasal & Sinus Center of Austin by calling our office in Austin at (512) 339-4040, or Lakeway at (512) 682-4798. You can also request an appointment online.