What To Expect During An Overnight Sleep Study
If even a Regal mattress isn’t enough to heal your sleep woes, it’s time to bring the problem to the attention of a health professional.
Insomnia is too serious a health risk to leave unchecked, and since most sleep disorders are very manageable conditions, it only makes sense to get a pro involved when you’ve tried all the standard solutions, like practicing good sleep hygiene.
When you do, it’s possible that you’ll need to undergo an overnight sleep study or polysomnography. This helps your doctor pin down the source of your sleep problems, which can be difficult to do with a regular office visit.
Sleeping overnight in a laboratory may seem nerve-wracking, and many people wonder how they’ll be able to get to sleep at all under such unusual conditions. Keep in mind that sleep labs are designed to be as comfortable as possible. Rarely does a sleep study fail because the patient couldn’t get to sleep.
Sleep occurs in a number of different stages that occur in a cyclical fashion. A sleep study uses precise measuring equipment to track your brain, muscle, and eye activity, the patterns of which signal which sleep stage you’re in and the type of disorder you’re suffering from.
The recordings typically include an electroencephalography (EEG) which measures your brain waves, an electrooculogram (EOG) which measures eye movement, and an electromyography (EMG), which measures muscle movement.
Before a sleep study, you may be asked to fill out a sleep questionnaire that tracks your sleep habits over a period of time. You’ll probably be asked to bring your own pyjamas and any personal sleep objects to the study since these may help you sleep better (this is no time to be shy about that stuffed bunny rabbit from childhood you still sleep with).
When you arrive at a sleep lab, you’ll fill out some paperwork, be asked to remove any jewelry, and change into your pyjamas or a hospital gown. Then, the polysomnographist will attach small wires with suction cups on the end to your head and body to make the necessary recordings.
You will be monitored throughout the night—someone will be there in case you need to use the bathroom!
When morning comes, the devices will be removed and you’ll be sent on your way. Some sleep labs have facilities you can use to shower and get ready in the morning.
Remember that there are no known risks associated with sleep studies, except mild skin irritation where the electrodes are attached, and that you’re bound to feel much better once your doctor arrives at a diagnosis!