Sleep studies are one of the more powerful tools available to doctors to help diagnose sleep disorders and other factors affecting our rest. For the millions of people who suffer from a lack of sleep it might be wise to ask for one. Here's a look at what they are and when you might need one.
Medical professionals who conduct sleep research have used studies for years to both diagnose problems with sleep as well as gather data on sleep in general. These studies have helped doctors map out sleep and have helped to increase our understanding of what exactly goes on in the body and brain during sleep. They have proved to be a valuable tool in building not only our knowledge of sleep, but how we treat sleep disorders.
Sleep studies are usually conducted at a hospital that has the appropriate facilities. This usually consist of a cluster of hotel style rooms with a bed, TV and bathroom. The ward is manned by Sleep Technicians who conducts the tests and monitor the patients. Typically, people undergoing sleep studies by a doctor's referral after their primary physician has worked with them to determine that their sleep issues might warrant one.
The recommendation is that patients attempt to stick with their normal sleep pattern and do not make any significant changes to the routine prior to the test. They want to be able to measure you in your normal cycle of sleep. Also, it is usually recommended to cut out caffeine for a couple days before the test. The test is done overnight so you usually check in at night and will need an overnight bag and night clothes as if you were staying in a hotel. The night clothes need to be comfortable, but also allow for the Technician to apply the various electrodes and other monitoring connections to your body.
Research on sleep done through these studies involves monitoring brain activity, body movement, breathing rate and depth as well as oxygen levels in the blood. If you are attending a study you will probably be monitored for all these as well as be videotaped so doctors can review as much information as possible. From these tests doctors can often determine if you are suffering from a disorder such as sleep apnea or if you are having trouble with any of the stages of sleep that normally occurs during the night.
If you are having trouble sleeping or getting restful sleep for more than a few nights in a row then you might want to discuss with your doctor whether or not you need a sleep study. Usually they will attempt to look at habits and diet to determine if something needs to change there first. If that does not work then they may consider the study.
Another way to get a snap shot of your sleep and see if there is anything to be concerned about is to find out if your local hospitals are conducting sleep research and need volunteers. This will not only get you into a sleep study for your information but will help researchers gather more data on sleep in general. You would be contributing to research that might help others in the long run. Either way, you should talk about it with your doctor so they are in the loop regarding any issues you are having with your rest. Just know that if you are having trouble there are ways of finding out why.