Understanding Polysomnography and Diagnosing Sleep Disorders
A sleep study also called polysomnography is a test performed to diagnose sleep disorders. It monitors your sleep patterns by recording your breathing rate, heart rate, the level of oxygen in your blood, and the movement of your eyes, hands, and legs during sleep. The results of the test help your doctor devise treatment methods to cure the underlying disorder.
In-Lab Sleep Study
In-lab sleep studies, also known as polysomnograms, evaluate various sleep aspects in a lab or hospital. They provide a complete assessment of brain activity, breathing, oxygen levels, heart rate, eye and leg movements, and muscle activity during sleep. These are correlated with sleep-related issues.
These studies are recommended to assess abnormal sleep behavior, breathing conditions like sleep apnea, monitor treatment effects, and identify treatment failures.
In-lab sleep studies are non-invasive, painless procedures requiring overnight stays. Special instructions will be given regarding what to bring and do’s and don’ts. Efforts are made to create a comfortable, homely lab environment. Sensors are attached to monitor sleep, and movements are recorded by a camera. The next morning, sensors are removed, and your doctor interprets the data for treatment advice.
Home Sleep Study
Normally, a sleep study is performed in the sleep disorder unit of a hospital called a sleep lab. You can have the study performed at your home if your doctor finds you meet the criteria to do so.
You will receive the home sleep study equipment as well as instructions on how to set it up. The equipment is returned once the study is complete. The results of the test will be studied by a sleep specialist who will prepare a report for your doctor. Based on the results, an appropriate treatment option is suggested to manage the underlying sleep disorder.
A home sleep study costs less than a regular sleep study and is covered by most insurances.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by repeated pauses in your breathing during sleep. Relaxed muscles in the back of the throat block the airway and disrupt normal breathing while you are asleep.
Causes of OSA
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused when muscles in the throat that control the uvula, tongue, tonsils, and palate become relaxed, narrowing the space for air to flow.
Symptoms of OSA
Obstructive sleep apnea may be associated with:
Many patients do not remember the difficulty they experience during sleep. If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor to find out if a home sleep study is right for you.
Precautions for a Home Sleep Study
You will need to follow these precautions if you are performing a sleep study at home:
Procedure for Home Sleep Study
You will be instructed on how to set up the equipment. A demonstration video may be provided. The equipment has sensors to measure your sleep patterns. The basic steps for the setup involve:
Complications of Home Sleep Study
No associated complications for a home sleep study have been reported. Some patients may experience mild irritation of the skin due to the attachment of the sensors.