Alaska Sleep Education Center

A Detailed Look at the Steps to a Sleep Study

Posted by Jack Johnson on May 16, 2014 8:00:00 AM

sleep study stepsIf you are like most people, when your doctor says "You need a sleep study." your first thought is...What's that? Why do I need sleep study? How does that even work?

Are sleep studies truly necessary?

In discussing your health history your doctor may notice signs and symptoms suggestive of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or other possible sleep disorders that may be negatively affecting your health.
Some common conditions that are seen in people with sleep disorders include hypertension(high blood pressure), cardiac or heart problems, diabetes, migraines, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), depression, anxiety, memory loss and even ADHD in children.
If you have any of these conditions and/or mentioned you snore or are "tired all the time" your doctor may have decided a sleep study was in order.

Since sleep disorders can be the root cause of many serious health problems your doctor may feel it necessary to test your sleep to find the best possible way to treat these pressing health concerns.

What happens at a sleep study?

If your doctor orders you an in lab sleep study (where you spend the night in a sleep clinic) then the day of your study you will usually arrive at the lab around 8-9 pm. You will have had your dinner and arrive at the clinic ready for bed. The technologist will usually start by gathering some paperwork and will review with you what the sleep study will entail.

After collecting your health history as well as some vitals like your blood pressure, the tech will apply monitors to measure activity in the body related to your sleep. This will normally include the following...

  • wires with small cup electrodes attached to your scalp with a conductive paste (to measure brain activity which lets them know what stage of sleep you are in). 

  • wire electrodes are taped to your face to show muscle activity which will also clue them in to what stage of sleep you are in, observe  possible teeth grinding and other possible sleep disorders related to muscle activity. 

  • 2 elastic belts around your chest and stomach to measure breathing effort.

  • a nasal cannula (clear plastic tubing) and small heat monitor to measure all breathing activity.

  • a wire electrode on each leg to measure body movement/muscle activity. 

  • a monitor taped to your finger to detect oxygen levels during the study. 

  • 2-3 lead EKG monitors to show heart rate and rhythm.

  • a small snore mic applied to your throat to detect snoring.

Next: Going to sleep during your sleep study

Once all your sensors are applied and the study is started you really only have one task....try to sleep!
People often worry most about this part. "How can I sleep with all this STUFF on me?!"
It's not easy, but I assure you... it can be done! Left alone in a dark room for a minimum of 6 hours will allow time to observe much more sleep than you may realize. The fact is this, it is very rare for a sleep study to fail due to lack of sleep. Which just goes to show… people can sleep through almost anything if they are tired enough! Even if they don't realize they are doing it. Most people leave the next morning feeling as if they didn't sleep a wink only to find out they slept for hours. The brain is funny that way.
The next morning the monitors are removed, some paperwork is done and you are free to go. A sleep study is usually concluded by about 6-7 am.
All the info gathered during this study will then be interpreted by a sleep specialist and the outcomes will be sent to your doctor. At this point either your doctor or the sleep specialist will review your test results with you and recommend a course of action to treat any sleep disorders that may have been detected during the study.

Understanding the Results of Your Study

If a sleep disorder is detected and treated effectively then it will be easy to understand why you went through all this effort. There is nothing better than a good night sleep and we at Alaska Sleep Clinic pride ourselves on our ability to make this dream a reality for so many people.

Still have questions? If so, contact us today by clicking the link below.

Finally - Sleep Consultation

Topics: sleep study

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