Sleep Study Q&A

Healthy Sleep

7 Common Questions Asked About Undergoing a Sleep Study Answered

If the sleep expert referred you to go to a laboratory or sleep center to undergo a sleep study, there can be different reasons behind it such as chronic snoring or sleep disorders. However, some patients who are yet to undergo a sleep study have concerns whether they can sleep comfortably in a different environment. Others hesitant to undergo the procedure with the fear that it can be painful. These are legitimate and common concerns of patients about to undergo their first sleep study. In this article, we discuss the importance of undergoing a sleep study, what happens during the test, and other common questions about a sleep study.

1. What is a Sleep Study?

A sleep study is a procedure that measures how well you sleep and what are the sleep problems that you are suffering from. It also tells how severe your sleep problem is.

A sleep study helps the sleep expert in determining your breathing, movements, and habits while you sleep. To get the data needed, electrodes on wires are attached to your scalp, temples, legs, and chest while a small clip is placed on either your finger or ear to monitor your blood’s oxygen levels.

These sensors are connected from your body to a computer. It is used to monitor your rapid eye movements, brain waves, oxygen levels, snoring, breathing patterns, body position, muscle tone, heart rate, and leg movements.

2. How Long Do You Need to Stay in the Sleep Laboratory?

Most laboratories require you to stay for at least seven hours to get enough results for the sleep expert to analyze.

3. What Does a Sleep Laboratory Look Like?

Once you arrive at the sleep laboratory or sleep center, you might be surprised that it does not look like a regular hospital or facility. Instead, a sleep laboratory looks like a hotel room. These rooms are made as comfortable as possible to allow the patients to be more relaxed as possible.

There are video cameras around each room to record everything that is happening while you sleep. Since these rooms are mimicking the same comfort that you feel when you are in your own room or hotel, most sleep experts and technicians advise to wear regular pajamas and adjust the temperature according to your liking. The rooms are also kept dark to help you fall asleep.

4. Does the Test Hurt?

The sleep study process is non-invasive and completely painless. The sleep laboratory is dark, quiet, and conducive to sleeping. However, the wires and electrodes attached your body and head can affect your sleep.

5. What Happens If You Cannot Fall Asleep?

Almost every patient falls asleep while undergoing a sleep study, although some take more time than other people. The sleep technician makes sure that you feel relax and comfortable during the duration of the test for you to fall asleep.

However, if you still cannot sleep, the sleep technician and specialist may recommend undergoing a home sleep test, instead. This sleep study is administered at home, where you can sleep in your own bed in a familiar surrounding.

6. What Data Can Experts Gather from the Sleep Study?

The data that a sleep study collects can provide a lot of information about your sleep patterns including:

  • Breathing rate, blood oxygen levels, and heart rate while you sleep which may show that you have sleep apnea.
  • Leg movements that disrupt your sleep that may indicate periodic limb movement disorder.
  • Settings for PAP or CPAP.
  • Unusual behavior or movements while you are sleep which may be signs of another sleep disorder.

7. What Happens After the Test?

The sleep technician wakes you up, removes all the electrodes, and have you fill out some paperwork before you leave. The results of the study will not be shared with you immediately since spending a night at a sleep laboratory produces about 1,000 pages of data. The trained sleep technician initially interprets the data and hands it over to the sleep specialist for further review and interpretation.

The sleep expert determines whether you are suffering from a sleep disorder and what that problem is. The sleep expert also comes up with the best treatment option for your problem.

It might take up to two weeks before you receive the results of the sleep study. Your sleep doctor also sets a follow-up appointment to discuss the results, determine if you are suffering from a sleep disorder, and offer possible treatment options if required.

The idea of a sleep study is to completely analyze and determine whether you are suffering from a sleep disorder or not. It is conducted in a sleep laboratory which resembles a hotel room to make you feel more comfortable and sleep better. The test lasts for at least seven hours and is completely painless.

After undergoing a sleep study, the sleep technician forwards the result to the sleep expert for further review and interpretation. It usually takes up to two weeks before your sleep expert sets a follow-up appointment to discuss the result. From the diagnosis and data provided by the sleep study, your doctor determines if you are suffering from a sleep disorder and what treatment you should undergo.

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