If you're having trouble sleeping, your doctor may recommend a sleep study. A sleep study is a test that records your sleep patterns and body functions while you sleep. This information can help your doctor diagnose sleep disorders and determine the best treatment. The most common type of sleep study is polysomnography, which can diagnose a wide range of sleep complications.
A sleep study is a test that records sleep patterns and body functions while you sleep.
A sleep study is typically conducted in a sleep laboratory with sensors attached to your body.
The duration of a sleep study depends on the purpose of the study and the specific data the physician needs, but it is usually overnight.
A sleep study is typically recommended if you are experiencing persistent sleep-related issues that significantly impact your daily life.
It is common for people to have difficulty sleeping during a sleep study.
What happens during a sleep study?
A sleep study is typically conducted in a sleep laboratory. You will be asked to change into comfortable clothing and lie down in a bed. The technicians will then attach a number of sensors to your body, including electrodes on your scalp, chest, and legs. These sensors will record your brain activity, heart rate, breathing, and oxygen levels while you sleep.
Most of these sensors are hooked up to you through adhesive tape, and some as a belt, depending on what it tests. Some sensors may include:
- Electrocardiography (ECG). Adhesive stickers that monitor the electrical activity in the heart are placed on your chest and limbs.
- Electroencephalography (EEG). Gel-based stickers are placed on your head and scalp to monitor your brain wave patterns during sleep.
- Electro-oculography (EOG). An adhesive sensor is placed around the eyes to detect eye movement.
- Electromyogram (EMG). Another sensor that is attached to the skin to track muscle movements while you sleep.
- Respiratory inductive plethysmography (RIP) belt. A belt that will be strapped around your torso to measure the expansion of your abdomen while breathing.
- Pulse oximeter. A device that fits around your index finger to test your oxygen levels.
- Camera monitoring. Video monitoring with sound will allow the sleep technicians to monitor you while you are asleep and compare it to the data collected.
Do I need a sleep study?
A sleep study is typically recommended if you are experiencing persistent sleep-related issues that significantly impact your daily life. If you are having trouble sleeping, your doctor may recommend a sleep study if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Periodic limb movement disorder
- REM sleep behavior disorder
- Restless leg syndrome
- Sleep apnea or snoring
- Sleep talking
Talk to your doctor if you are having difficulty sleeping or struggle with daytime sleepiness.
How much does a sleep study cost?
The cost of a sleep study varies depending on the type of study and the location of the sleep laboratory. In-lab sleep studies typically cost more than at-home sleep studies. The cost of a sleep study may be covered by your insurance. You may need to have a referral from your doctor before your insurance will cover the cost.
In general, an in-lab sleep study can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. It is important to note that insurance coverage may be available; it is recommended to check with your insurance provider to understand the extent of your coverage and any out-of-pocket expenses you may incur.
How long does a sleep study take?
The duration of a sleep study depends on the purpose of the study and the specific data the physician needs. In most cases, the sleep study lasts overnight. You will get to the center in the evening and stay throughout the night until the morning. In some cases, there might be a need for an additional night to collect more data.
You may need to stay more than one night if the technician is unable to gather all of the information needed. When you go over your test results with your provider, they will tell you if you will need another study or not.
A full night's sleep may not be possible in an unfamiliar setting hooked up to multiple pieces of equipment. In most cases, the technicians will be able to gather all the information that they need with just a couple of hours of sleep.
What if I can't sleep during a sleep study?
It is common for people to have difficulty sleeping during a sleep study. This is because the unfamiliar environment and the wires and sensors can be disruptive.
If you are having trouble sleeping during a sleep study, the technicians may ask you to try some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. They may also ask you to wear a mask that delivers a mild stream of air to help you breathe more easily.
It is recommended to follow your usual bedtime routine as much as possible. You can bring personal items that help you relax, such as a pillow, pajamas, or a book. The sleep technologists will be available to assist and guide you through the process, ensuring that the data collected is accurate and reliable.
How to prepare for a sleep study
Your doctor will provide you with instructions to follow for your sleep study. Make sure you read them thoroughly to help ensure the most accurate results. It is recommended that you follow the normal sleep routine you do at home for the test. Stick to your routine and take all of your normal medications unless instructed otherwise. A few things you can do to prepare for a sleep study:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol the day of the study.
- Get a good night's sleep the night before.
- Bring comfortable clothing to sleep in.
- Bring a book or magazine if you have trouble sleeping.
Can I do a sleep study at home?
In some cases, a sleep study can be conducted in your own home. This is a home sleep study or portable monitoring. Home sleep studies are generally recommended for individuals with a high suspicion of obstructive sleep apnea and no other significant sleep disorders. It involves wearing a portable device that records several physiological parameters while you sleep.
It's important to note that not all sleep disorders can be diagnosed through a home sleep study, and your healthcare provider will determine the most appropriate type of study based on your symptoms and medical history. Home sleep studies are not as accurate as in-lab sleep studies. This is because the sensors used in home sleep studies are not as sensitive as the sensors used in in-lab sleep studies.
Tips for people who need a sleep study
If you have been advised to undergo a sleep study, here are some tips to help you prepare and make the most out of the experience:
- Follow instructions. Follow any specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider regarding medication usage, diet, or sleep routine before the study.
- Pack well. Pack like you are going to sleep at a hotel. Bring all of your normal hygiene materials, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and other care products.
- Keep skin dry. Do not use any creams, lotions, or oils that may affect how the sensors attach to your skin.
- Alert about allergies. Let your provider know if you have any skin allergies, such as to latex or adhesive products.
- Avoid caffeine. Do not consume caffeine or stimulants after lunchtime.
- No naps. Do not nap on the day of, as it can make it harder to sleep.
- Get comfy. Bring comfortable sleepwear and any personal items that help you relax and feel at ease.
- Communicate with the technicians. Tell them any concerns or anxieties you may have. They are there to support and guide you through the process.
- Keep a routine. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule leading up to the study to optimize your chances of falling asleep during the procedure.
Undergoing a sleep study can provide valuable insights into your sleep patterns and help diagnose and manage various sleep disorders. By understanding the process, knowing when a sleep study is necessary, and following the recommended tips, you can approach the experience with confidence and improve your overall sleep health. Remember, a good night's sleep is essential for your well-being and overall quality of life.