What Do Sleep Studies Actually Monitor?

Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Do you experience headaches, fatigue or sluggishness throughout the day? If your night of sleep and day after are less than ideal, it might be time to talk to your doctor about considering a sleep study.

Sleep studies are tests that record what happens to your body during sleep. They’re performed to diagnose problems like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, some insomnias, sleep walking, night terrors and periodic limb movement disorder, among others. But the thought of participating in a sleep study can be daunting for both adults and children. If sleeping under surveillance makes you hesitant to go through with a sleep study, it’s important to know the benefits and what is actually taking place.

What do sleep studies monitor?
Sleep studies don’t just monitor your sleep patterns. They also monitor your brain waves, muscle activity, heart rhythm, oxygen levels and breathing rhythms. As you sleep, your body undergoes two cycles—NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and REM (rapid eye movement). Normally NREM and REM alternate four to five times per night, but a change in this cycle can make it hard to sleep soundly. Sleep studies use an EEG to monitor these sleep cycles and identify disruptions in the pattern of your sleep.

Taking the time to complete a sleep study now could help you control and maintain your health in the long run.

What are the main types?
There are many types of sleep studies, but three tests are the most common:

  • Polysomnogram – A polysomnogram typically requires patients to stay at the sleep center for 6 hours or overnight. In these non-invasive tests, tiny sensors are placed on the head and chest to record brain waves, muscle activity, oxygen levels, heart rhythm and breathing rhythms.
  • Positive Airway Pressure Testing (PAP Titration) – This test monitors and adjusts airway pressure with the goal of eliminating the breathing events during sleep that cause short-term awakenings and daytime sleepiness.
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) – MSLTs test for excessive daytime sleepiness by measuring how quickly you fall asleep in a quiet environment during the day. Patients will take five scheduled naps separated by two-hour breaks.

What can I expect during the study?
Sleep studies are performed by trained professionals in sleep centers and take place during your normal sleeping hours. These centers work to make accommodations as comfortable as possible for patients, offering private, hotel-like rooms, large beds, personal restrooms and showers, televisions and more. Patients are welcome to bring personal items related to sleep and can even sleep in their own pajamas. Worried you won’t sleep through the night? Don’t be. We’ll ensure you’re as comfortable as possible, and we can still get the information we need even if you don’t get a full night of sleep.

When will I get results?
Sleep study results are generally available within one to two weeks. Your primary care doctor or a sleep specialist will review results with you at a follow-up appointment, and necessary steps will be pursued.

Find more information about sleep studies and the extraordinary care offered by the Covenant HealthCare Sleep Center and the Pediatric Sleep Program here.

Posted Date: 4/11/2017

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