What Is A Sleep Study?

Sleep studies are tests that measure how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep problems.These tests can help your doctor find out whether you have a sleep disorder and how severe it is.

Sleep studies are important because untreated sleep disorders can raise your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and other medical conditions. Sleep disorders also have been linked to an increased risk of injury, such as falling (in the elderly) and car accidents.

People usually aren't aware of their breathing and movements while sleeping. They may never think to talk to their doctors about issues that might be related to sleep problems.

However, sleep disorders can be treated. Talk with your doctor if you snore regularly or feel very tired while at work or school most days of the week.

You also may want to talk with your doctor if you often have trouble falling or staying asleep, or if you wake up too early and aren't able to go back to sleep. These are common signs of a sleep disorder.

Your doctor might be able to diagnose a sleep disorder based on your sleep schedule and habits. However, he or she also might need the results from sleep studies and other medical tests to diagnose a sleep disorder.

Sleep studies can help diagnose:

  • Sleep-related breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea
  • Sleep-related seizure disorders
  • Sleep-related movement disorders, such as periodic limb movement disorder
  • Sleep disorders that cause extreme daytime tiredness, such as narcolepsy

What is a Polysomnograph (PSG)?

A Sleep Study, or Polysomnograph, is a comprehensive, 6-8 hour recording of the physical changes in your body that occur during sleep. A sleep study is usually performed at night during sleep. This diagnostic test monitors many body functions including brain (EEG), eye movements (EOG), muscle activity or skeletal muscle activation (EMG), heart rhythm (ECG), and breathing function or respiratory effort during sleep.

What is a Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT)?

The Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) measures a person's ability to stay awake in a quiet, dark and nonstimulating room for a period of time. This test is usually given to a person receiving therapy for conditions causing daytime sleepiness which have been diagnosed i.e. sleep apnea.

The MWT requires a person to stay awake during four 20 to 40 minute periods with each period being 2 hours apart. The person sits in a chair or is seated in a bed with the back and head supported by a bolster pillow for comfort. Sleep rooms are dark and quiet during testing except for a 7.5-W nightlight used as a light source. The person should look directly ahead and not at the light for 20 minutes. Recording devices are used to determine how awake the person remains during the 20 to 40 minute period. Patients are instructed to avoid extreme behaviors to stay awake.

The use of caffeine, tobacco, or other medications should be discussed and decided on before the test. The patient should have experienced an adequate quantity and quality of sleep on the night prior to undergoing MWT testing.

What is a Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)?

Some people also participate in daytime testing. This test consists of a series of 20-minute naps. Sensors & electrodes are used to record information, similar to the polysomnogram test. 20-minute long naps are given every two hours throughout the day. Please bring something to read or work on during the day to help keep you occupied in between naps. Television is provided.


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