The best way to diagnose sleep apnea is during a nocturnal sleep study: a time in which medical professionals can observe you when asleep overnight by recording a number of your biological functions. A sleep study can do more than just diagnose your sleep apnea, it can also give doctors insight into the causes of your sleep apnea as well as help doctors find the best sleep apnea treatment for you.
Preparing for Your Sleep Study
Your sleep study will most likely take place at night and will attempt to mimic a normal night of rest in as many ways as possible. After arriving at the sleep center, you will be briefed by your medical professionals about the study and brought to a room that looks much like a regular hotel room. After changing into your night clothes, you will be hooked up to a number of machines that will record your various bodily functions as you sleep. Finally, you are ready to rest for the night!
You should bring the following items with you to your sleep study:
- Any medical forms and insurance information requested by the sleep center.
- Pajamas that you are comfortable wearing around others – and ideally a pair that button down the front for easier access to your chest.
- Pillows and/or blankets from home – although pillows and blankets are often provided, ones from home may allow you to fall asleep more easily.
- A toothbrush, comb, and other toiletries. Women should bring make-up remover if necessary.
- Books, magazines, or other reading material for before bed.
- A before bed snack, if you'd like.
Expect the sleep study to last all night and into the early morning.
All About Polysomnograms
The main reason for sleep apnea sleep studies is simply to determine whether you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or from some other sleep disorder. To do this, you will be monitored by a number of machines. This monitoring process is known as a polysomnogram. This test is not invasive and is not painful, although it can be a little uncomfortable to be connected to so many machines through electrodes and straps. A polysomnogram monitors the following bodily functions while you sleep:
- Brain wave activity.
- Eye movement.
- Muscle tone and movement.
- Heart rhythm.
Sleep Study Next Steps
After the sleep study is concluded, a sleep specialist will analyze the results and make a diagnosis if necessary. If the patient is often awakened by a breathing obstruction, and if this breathing obstruction prevents them from having healthy sleep cycles, he or she may be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Those with sleep apnea, or those with inconclusive results, may be asked to return to engage in a second sleep study in which the patient will be monitored when undergoing various OSA treatments, such as CPAP therapy. In other cases, a patient may undergo a "split night" sleep study, in which the first half of the night monitors regular sleep and the second half of the night monitors sleep while using an OSA treatment.
Throughout this process, your doctor should discuss his or her findings along the way and involve you in the process of pinpointing both a cause and a solution for your sleeping troubles.
Sleep Apnea Surgery at the Surgical Arts Centre
We recommend that all of our patients are diagnosed with sleep apnea during a sleep study before seeking treatment with our team. To learn more about sleep studies, speak with your primary care doctor. If you have already been diagnosed with OSA though a sleep study, and would like to learn about your full range of treatment options, contact our medical center today: (406) 549-6600.