So you have just spent the night at a sleep lab and are wondering "what did you find out, and what’s next?" It's a statement we at Alaska Sleep Clinic encounter on a daily basis, usually when a patient wakes up. The answer of course, depends on how your test went.
Did I get enough sleep?
One thing I hear all the time after a sleep study is "I hardly slept at all...there is no way I got enough sleep." People are naturally very concerned about having to repeat the study due to this perceived lack of sleep.
You probably slept longer than you thought.
The simple truth is...you almost always sleep more than you realize and very few sleep studies need to be repeated due to lack of sleep. Even though the study requires a minimum of 6 hours recording time it is important to run the sleep study as long as it takes. The doctor can, in most cases, get a good idea of what is going on with your sleep in as little as 4 hours, sometimes less.
The study is also a total accumulation of time asleep, so if you had frequent arousals during the night it can easily feel as if you were awake the entire time. When in reality you may have actually slept 6 hours or more. Sleep is funny that way. So rest easy, chances are you slept plenty.
Where do the study results get sent?
Once the study is complete it will be reviewed by a sleep specialist who will review it to make a diagnosis and decide on the best course of action to treat your sleep problems. They will then send a final report to your referring physician.
How soon can I get my results?
A sleep study can usually take about 1-2 weeks to be completed and ready to go. Some studies can be interpreted and ready sooner if there is an urgent need. This turnaround time will depend on the clinic as well.
Who do I see to get my results?
As soon as your study is completed you should schedule a follow-up visit with the doctor who referred you for your study or the sleep specialist who interpreted your study. This is usually the doctor associated with the clinic where your study was performed.
Most doctors have limited knowledge in the realm of sleep and would prefer you review your study results with the sleep specialist. However, some doctors would rather discuss the results with you themselves. For this reason it is always best to ask your doctor who you should be scheduling this follow up with.
What happens at this follow up appointment?
During this visit the doctor will review the results of your sleep study, discuss your diagnosis and make recommendations for treatment.
It says I have sleep apnea...now what?
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea you will most likely be ordered some kind of PAP (positive airway pressure) therapy. This includes the use of air pressure to `splint’ open your airway while you are sleeping to prevent the airway restrictions that lead to the decreased oxygen levels and brain arousal associated with sleep apnea.
Other treatment options may also include dental devices which are used to open the airway by manipulation of the jaw.
Together, you and your sleep specialist will find the therapy that will work best for you.
It's not sleep apnea...what other problem could I have?
Other possible sleep disorders such as Narcolepsy, PLMD (periodic limb movement disorder), RBD (REM behavior disorder) or Insomnia may be diagnosed. These conditions can be treated a number of ways including medication or even CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy).
Once again, the best treatment options will be determined by your sleep specialist and discussed at your follow up appointment.
When can I expect to be done with all of this?
In the end it does come down to a bit of waiting game. This can lead to some anxious days as people are naturally very eager to know how everything went, if there is something wrong and how it might be treated. The most important thing you can do is arrange your follow up appointment, either with your referring provider or the sleep specialist as soon as you have
completed your sleep study.
All most people want is a solution to a problem they have been living with for months or even years. Just know that the hard part is over and you are that much closer to that elusive night’s sleep that you have been dreaming of. And I guarantee…having great night’s sleep is completely worth it!