Why You May Need A Sleep Study And How It's Done

If you have problems with your sleep, your doctor may schedule an appointment with a sleep clinic. This is an outpatient clinic where you spend the night so you can be monitored while you sleep. This lets your doctor find out how your body reacts and what causes your problems once you drift into slumber. Here's why sleep studies are done and the information they provide.

Why You Might Need A Sleep Study

One common reason for a sleep study is to diagnose sleep apnea. This helps your doctor determine if your daytime grogginess and other medical symptoms are due to periods of apnea while you sleep, and if so, proper treatment can be given. Other reasons for a sleep study can be to monitor insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and even sleepwalking. Since you don't know what goes on with your body when you're sleeping, a sleep study is one way to find out through visual monitoring and medical testing.

How A Sleep Study Is Done

One part of a sleep study is visual monitoring by a technician. You'll have a quiet, dark room for sleeping, but you will be monitored so the technician can mark down events as they happen. This helps the doctor correlate the graph readings from monitors with what you were doing at the time. The other part of the study relies on various machines that monitor your body while you fall to sleep and when you are deeply sleeping. You may be hooked up to sensors that record your respiratory rate, heart rate, and brainwaves. You may wear a sensor that detects chest or leg movement. Your oxygen saturation will be monitored to see if you have episodes of low oxygen levels during sleep.

What A Sleep Study Reveals

The tests you undergo during the study save the data so a sleep medicine doctor can analyze it later. There may be graphs of brainwave activity that correlate with graphs of heart rate and oxygen levels so the doctor can see how your body reacted during the test. The test analyzes your sleep cycles with body movements and physiological data. For instance, if you have obstructive sleep apnea, the test may show you had chest movement indicating you attempted to breathe but airflow sensors may indicate you weren't moving air at the time. By studying the data and how the results relate to each other, a sleep doctor can help your doctor diagnose a sleep disorder you have and didn't know about.