Sleep studies are an increasingly common tool used by doctors and sleep specialists to determine if their patients are having sleep issues. According to a 2014 statement by the Sleep Foundation, 45% of Americans report that poor or insufficient sleep affects their daily lives, and as much as 25% of the population may suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that negatively affects the ability to breathe properly during sleep. Not only is poor sleep tied to your health and happiness, it has also been linked to car accidents, workplace accidents, and other errors. With the increased attention on the importance of good sleep, it’s no wonder sleep studies are on the rise. Symptoms that may indicate you have a sleep disorder can include insomnia, excessive snoring, trouble breathing, and excessive tiredness during the day. If you have any of these issues, you may want to get your doctor to refer you to a sleep specialist for a sleep study. The Sleep Study Sleep studies usually take place overnight in a hospital or sleep center. You’ll arrive before bedtime and meet with a technician who will give you time to get ready for sleep – there may be a television or you could bring a book or magazine to help you unwind and relax. Be sure to bring clothes you’re comfortable sleeping in, as well as all the toiletries you’ll need before bed. Once you’re in bed, the technician will place sensors on your head and body that connect to machines that monitor your sleep patterns, oxygen levels, disruptions in sleep, and other measurements that determine the quality of your sleep. The technician will be available throughout the night should you accidentally remove any of the sensors or need to use the restroom. Some people may find that, in this very different environment, it’s difficult to fall asleep. Just try to relax and remember that you don’t need a full 8 hours for the specialists to accurately evaluate your sleep. There are also home studies – in which you take a much simpler set of sensors home and hook them up yourself – but the health professionals will be able to recommend the sleep study you need. You may also undergo a home test once you’ve been treated for a sleep condition to check on the progress of your treatment. What Sleep Studies Can Find If you have sleeping troubles, there are a number of different conditions a sleep study can diagnose. These include:
- Breathing disorders such as sleep apnea, during which you stop breathing for brief periods of time or experience very shallow breathing.
- Sleep movement disorders such as periodic limb movement disorder, during which your legs cramp or jerk during sleep.
- Sleep disorders that lead to excessive tiredness, such as narcolepsy.