What is a sleep study?
A sleep study is a specialized test used to diagnose sleep disorders. As the name implies, it is done during sleep. The following sections will describe it in more detail.
How do I prepare for a sleep study?
On the day of the study, please avoid taking naps. You may maintain a semi-normal diet routine. You should eat dinner before arriving at the sleep lab since no meals will be provided. Avoid any caffeine or alcohol after 2 PM on the day of your study. On the day of the study after bathing, you may wash your hair with shampoo, but please do not use hair products including gels, creams and sprays, skin lotion, face makeup, as they interfere with the special glue used to hold the electrodes to your scalp.
Will my insurance cover this?
While it is best to verify your coverage, most insurance policies cover sleep testing. We will prior authorize the study with your insurance to ensure it is covered and if there is an out of pocket expense.
What do I need to bring with me?
Insurance card and another form of ID
Comfortable clothes to sleep in, preferably 2-piece pajamas.
You are welcome to bring your own pillow so you will have a familiar comfort from home, however, blankets and pillows will be provided by the Sleep Lab.
A list of current medications and doses.
All prescription and non-prescription medications you will need. You will need to be able to self-administer all medications as there is no nurse available to assist you.
A change of clothes, if you want, for the next day.
Something to read or work on while awake during the non-sleep periods. Free WiFi and a television with Netflix are provided.
What happens when I arrive for my sleep study?
On the night of your study, you will be greeted by the sleep technician who will briefly explain the night’s agenda, and will show you to your room. After you have changed into your sleep clothing, the technician will show you to our study preparation room.
What happens next?
In order to monitor your sleep, the technician will apply various sensors to your head, face, chest and legs. These sensors will enable us to look at your breathing patterns, oxygen levels and sleep stages during the night to determine if your sleep is being disturbed. Between 5:00 and 5:30 AM your sleep study will be complete. The technician will wake you up and remove the sensors, and give you a post study questionnaire. Once you are ready, you are free to leave.
What are the sensors and what information do they gather?
Each sensor plays an important part in diagnosing any sleep disorder you may have. They are all non-invasive, so there is no pain involved. Here is a description of what information they gather.
Your airflow: A sensor will be placed on your upper lip to monitor the airflow through your nose and mouth. During periods of sleep apnea the reading becomes flat because there is no air passing over the sensor.
Your breathing effort: Your breathing effort is measured with two elastic belts that fit around you’re your chest and abdomen. These belts record the movement of each area as you breathe.
Your oxygen level: An oximeter is used to monitor your blood oxygen level throughout the night. This device will either clip onto the outside of the finger.
Your heart rate: Two or three electrodes are attached to your chest area to monitor your heart rate and rhythm which may show abnormalities during sleep.
Your brain waves: In order to determine your stage of sleep through out the night, we record your brain waves with seven wires attached to the top and back of your scalp. These sensors may show a correlation between your stage of sleep and breathing abnormalities.
Your eye movements: Two sensors will be placed near your eyes to record rapid eye movements (REM) during sleep. The REM stage of sleep is associated with dreaming and deep sleep.
Your muscle tone: Electrodes attached to your chin and legs measure muscle tone, which also helps determine your stage of sleep and if your legs muscles contract during sleep.
How can I sleep with all these things on?
Surprisingly, most people sleep very well. The electrodes and other sensors are placed on the body in such a way as to provide you as much freedom and movement as possible. In addition, all of the electrodes and sensors have long leads (wires) that connect you to the recorders. It has been our experience that people acclimate to the new setting and the electrodes/sensors in a short period of time and are essentially unaware of them after they are in bed and going to sleep. Our technicians are experienced in doing these evaluations and do everything they can to make you as comfortable as possible. And remember, this is not as much a test as it is simply recording the above information to assist the physician in diagnosing and treating your sleep problems.
Will the electrodes/sensors hurt?
NO. Sometimes, when cleaning the site where the electrode will be attached, some minor skin irritation may occur, but it is temporary and mild. You may also feel a sensation of warmth where the oxygen measure sensor is placed, but again, this is mild. Generally, these do not cause any significant discomfort or hinder your ability to sleep.
Will I be given a drug to help me sleep?
NO. If you take any medications at night or in the morning, please bring them with you. No medications will be provided by the center.
What if I need to use the restroom during the night?
This is actually a common and easy to accommodate. All you need is to say out loud that you have to use the restroom. The technologist will come in and unplug the wires from a central box and you will be free to get up. The sensors themselves do not need to be removed. Most people have to get up at least once during the study.
What other tests could be done along with a sleep study?
If there is a suggestion of sleep apnea on your sleep study, the technician may begin CPAP titration to see if it helps improve your sleep. Alternatively, this may be done in another study at a later date.
What is CPAP titration?
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and a CPAP machine is the device that delivers the air pressure. In order for you to use CPAP, we have to determine the air pressure needed to keep your airway open during sleep. We use all the same sensors as your initial sleep study and also fit you with a CPAP mask that is worn over your nose (similar to an oxygen mask). Air travels through the mask and into your upper airway preventing your airway from collapsing while you sleep. The air pressure is started at its lowest setting, and once you are asleep the pressure is increased gradually, especially if you have any apnea events. This continues until your apnea events are eliminated.
What happens to the Sleep Study?
The recording of your sleep will be approximately 1000 pages long, and is scored by our technologist and then interpreted by our Medical Director. This information will be used to determine a diagnosis and treatment recommendations. The final report will be forwarded to your referring physician.