Have you been snoring, experiencing daytime fatigue and focus problems, or even just waking with the feeling that you didn’t sleep well? These could be signs of a sleep disorder. If you’ve been experiencing sleep-related symptoms, it may be time to have a sleep study done. Your doctor can refer you to a sleep lab, where you may be able to get to the bottom of your symptoms and come away with a diagnosis, which is the first step to treatment.
What Is a Sleep Study?
If your doctor suspects that you may be suffering from a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, it’s likely that your doctor will recommend a polysomnogram, or PSG. This test is performed overnight at a sleep lab.
Your sleep technician will record data such as your brain activity, heart rate, and breathing, among other information. This data will shed some light on what actually happens while you sleep, enabling your doctor to make recommendations for treatment to improve your sleep (and with it, decrease your risk of deadly side effects.)
Of course, these things can’t be measured without the right gear — a sleep technician will apply electrodes to your scalp and body to measure brain and muscle activity. Elastic around your torso will help measure breathing, as will a nasal cannula. You’ll also be connected to an EKG monitor that displays your heart rate.
If it sounds hard to sleep with all those wires attached to you, don’t worry! It’s very rare for a patient to not be able to sleep at all, and even if you sleep less than normal, there should still be more than enough data to draw medically helpful conclusions.
A sleep test can also be performed at home, if you prefer. If a home sleep test doesn’t provide enough information for accurate diagnosis, you will be referred to a lab for more in-depth testing.
How To Prepare
Before arriving at the sleep lab in the evening, you should complete all the tasks you would usually complete before bed, such as eating dinner, brushing your teeth, and any other nighttime routines. Pack an overnight bag with comfortable clothes to sleep in, and anything you need for your morning routine. (Most sleep labs have showers, so you can go straight from the lab to work in the morning if you need to.) You should also bring any medication that you usually take in the evening.
Remember, a sleep study is about monitoring your normal sleep, so you don’t need to do anything specific to prepare! In fact, it will be most effective if you perform your bedtime routine as close to normally as possible.
It could take over a week for the results to be evaluated and your doctor to prepare a diagnosis, if they have one. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend CPAP, a common first treatment to correct sleep disordered breathing.
If you are one of the many who struggle with CPAP, don’t worry — a sleep dentist like Dr. Kevin Berry can provide an alternate treatment in the form of an oral appliance. Call (303) 691-0267 or contact us online today to make an appointment with an experienced sleep dentist.