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Should I Have a Sleep Study?

  • Do you snore?
  • Do you feel tired during the day?
  • Do you feel restless at night?
  • Has anyone ever told you that you stop breathing in your sleep?
  • Do you wake up gasping or choking at night?

If you answered yes to any of these, you would probably benefit from a sleep study. There are over 80 different wake and sleep disorders.

The most common of these is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but we also diagnose and treat less-common disorders like restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy. Good sleep hygiene is extremely important to your overall health. Sleep issues have been linked to hypertension, obesity, drowsiness, impotence, diabetes, fatigue, arrhythmia, heart attacks, stress, headaches, depression, stroke and dementia.

How to Help Get Good Sleep at Home

Try to maintain a regular wake and bed time 7 days a week. Go to bed when you are drowsy. Avoid naps during the day. Avoid caffeine within 6 hours of bed time. Also avoid watching TV or using a cellphone in bed. If snoring is an issue for either partner, treating that will increase the quality of sleep for both individuals. Limit caffeine and alcohol, maintain a regular schedule and just use the bed for sleep. The first step toward getting a better night’s sleep is watching caffeine intake, waking up at the same time every day and avoiding naps. If you’re finding that your issues are around snoring, it’s important to discuss this with a physician.

What to Expect during an In-lab Sleep Study

A sleep study monitors your brain waves, breathing, heart rate and body movement. You generally arrive for your study at night between 8-10 pm. Your technologist will attach sensors to your head, chin, chest and legs. You will also have soft belts around your chest and stomach that will monitor your respiration and effort to breathe. There is an oxygen monitor placed on your finger and a video camera to monitor your sleep throughout the night.

What to Expect during a Home Sleep Study

The home sleep test includes the actual recording unit itself, a very small and lightweight nasal cannula (tube), a respiratory belt and a pulse ox that clips onto a finger. It all comes in a small pouch with instructions and one of our technologists to help out. 

You will meet with one of our technologists first and then take the unit home, apply the unit, sleep with it on and then return the unit the next day. 

How to Prepare for an In-lab Sleep Study

It’s important not to consume any caffeine the afternoon or evening of your sleep study. Be sure that your hair is clean and dry when you arrive. It should also be free of hair spray, oil and styling gel. Bring loose, comfortable, cotton (nothing silky) clothing to sleep in. A nightgown, pajamas (no leggings) or shorts and t-shirt are best.

Bring all medications you may need (e.g., prescriptions, sleep aids, pain relievers or antacids). If you have a sleep medication you generally take, bring it with you and notify the staff when you arrive. They will instruct you when to take it. Please do not take any sleep medication prior to arrival. Make sure you complete your sleep history questionnaire prior to arrival.

In-home vs. In-lab Sleep Study

An in-lab sleep study collects much more data than a home sleep test. A home sleep test measures respiratory effort and irregularities (snoring), body position, pulse rate and oxygen saturation. In addition to this data, the in-lab test measures cardiac rhythm, leg movements, eye movement, muscle tone and brain activity. Patients with advanced heart or lung disease will likely require an in-lab study. An in-home sleep study is best for someone at high risk of sleep apnea, as it is unable to detect other sleep disorders. Your doctor will help decide which option is best for your needs. 

Insurance can be a driving factor in an in-home versus an in-lab. An in-lab is more costly than an in-home, but for good reason. The patient in monitored all night by a registered polysomnographic tech and much more data is gathered during that time. An in-lab can also detect certain sleep disorders an in-home cannot. Physicians can help navigate which is the best fit for a given patient.

To get started, contact your primary care physician to get a sleep study referral.