Chronic sleep deficiency can lead to serious health problems, so an ongoing lack of sleep is nothing to ignore. If you have serious sleep issues, a sleep study can help a doctor determine the root cause of your issues so you can receive proper treatment.
Those with sleep issues such as restless legs syndrome, chronic snoring, narcolepsy (sudden daytime sleep attacks), and insomnia are good candidates for a sleep study.
There is a lot of activity going on in your brain even while you’re asleep. By tracking the activity, doctors can diagnose sleep disorders and subsequently treat them.
If you’ve been referred by your doctor to have a sleep study, find out here what to expect from it:
What Is a Sleep Study and What Is It For?
A sleep study is an individualized evaluation of your brain while you are asleep. It measures the quality of your sleep and determines whether or not you have a sleep disorder – and, if so, its severity.
You are not aware of your breathing and movements while sleeping, and a sleep study can help bring these issues to light. In a sleep study, a sleep doctor will examine your brain activity, breathing, and movements as you sleep.
What Really Goes On in a Sleep Test?
A sleep study usually involves the use of a polysomnogram, and the study is administered by a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT).
It is usually conducted in the evening inside a clean, sleek, and modern sleeping room. Not to worry, sleep labs are built for comfort and conduciveness to sleeping.
Upon arrival, you will have to fill out some forms. The sleep technicians will then go over your paperwork, check your medical history, and explain what goes on in the study. They will proceed to take your vitals, and the rest follows:
1. Electrodes with sensors are painlessly attached to your head and body. These will let the technicians know whether you’ve fallen asleep and, if so, the stage of sleep you are in.
2. Elastic belts are wrapped around your chest and abdomen. A nasal cannula and heart monitor are also attached to measure your breathing.
3. A clip is placed on your finger to monitor oxygen levels in your bloodstream.
4. If the doctor wants you to be tested to check for sleep apnea, you might be asked to wear a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine halfway into the night. The sleep technician will make adjustments to it from time to time to see whether the CPAP improves your sleep.
5. A wire electrode is placed on each leg to detect movement and measure muscle activity.
6. A small microphone is placed on your throat to detect snoring.
Every little thing attached to you is connected to a computer. This allows the doctor and technicians to also monitor the following:
● Brain waves
● Heart rate
● Rapid eye movements (REM sleep)
● Chin movements
● Leg movements
● Breathing patterns
● Respiratory efforts
● Oxygen levels
● Muscle activity (e.g. teeth grinding)
Before you fall asleep, the technicians will communicate with you for calibration. Once that is done, you will be encouraged to fall asleep.
While you sleep, trust that the sleep technicians are recording your brain activity and all other pertinent information in another room so as not to disturb you.
After the Sleep Study
By the end of the sleep study, the doctor will have a clear picture of your sleep pattern. The physician will also have useful information such as:
● How much time you spend in light stages of sleep
● How much time you spend in deep stages of sleep
● Whether or not you are receiving enough oxygen
● How often your sleep gets disrupted
● How often you wake up
Sleep Doctors in Columbia, South Carolina
If you have sleep issues, contact us at the Sleep Lab of Columbia – a specialized department here at SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation. Our experienced staff will evaluate and treat your sleep-related issues under the direction of Dr. Joseph N. Gabriel.
Call us at (803) 732-2433 or request an appointment online. Our facility is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and we can help you start getting a good night’s sleep again.