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What happens when I get here?
Upon your arrival to the lab, a technologist will greet you, giving a tour of the lab ending at your individual bedroom. After some paperwork and reviewing your sleep history, the technologist will allow you to change in private. Then, approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour will be spent wiring you up. Over twenty wire electrodes will be applied on your head, face and body to monitor your physiological activity during the night, including your brain waves, eye movements, heart, respiration, oxygen levels, snoring, limb movements, and muscle tone. A soft scrub gel is used to cleanse the locations where we apply equipment. The sensors are applied with a gel cream, guaze and/or tape. The hook up process allows time for a detailed explanation of the nights procedures. Once you are hooked up you will get in bed and the study will begin.
While the wires are painless, they may take a bit to get used to. However, most people find it surprisingly easy to sleep in the lab, even all wired up. In fact, usually by the end of the hook up, patients are comfortable and relaxed and ready for sleep.
Most patients are in bed between 9 and 11pm. We must have lights out by 11pm. We ask that you try to go to sleep as early as possible so we can maximize the time we have to collect data. The more cooperative you are, the sooner we can diagnose and treat any problem(s).
A few patients may choose to relax a bit and read or watch television before bed, if time allows. These activities are discouraged once testing begins. It is important to remember you are here for testing and treatment. The more sleep time we have, the better the chance that we get all the data we need and a return visit is not required.
How many patient's does the technologist have?
Our technologists are assigned only one or two patients each, ensuring optimal care.
What if I need to go to the bathroom during the night?
At any point during the night, we will be available to assist you with anything you need, including helping you out of bed in the event you need to use the restroom. All you need to do is speak up, and your technologist will come to your room and assist you with whatever you need. The wires on you can be disconnected in a simple way and you can move about easily. Upon return to the bed, the wires can be hooked up in seconds. It is important to remember whenever having any testing, communication is the key. We encourage you to ask questions. We are here to help.
What happens while I sleep?
While you sleep, the signals from the wires on your body will be monitored and recorded by the technologist. Usually 3-4 hours is all that is needed to diagnose your disorder(s), if any. The remainder of the night is spent providing treatment. This combination of diagnosis and treatment in one night is called a split night study.
What are you looking for?
The most common sleep disorder we see is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS). This is a breathing disorder caused by tissues in the nose and throat which are too large for the airway. These tissues may include simple nasal congestion, nasal polyps, a deviated septum, a large tongue, a narrow pharynx (or airway), an elongated uvula (the punching bag in the back of the throat) and/or inflamed tonsils and adenoids. While awake, muscle tone keeps those tissues active, so they do not block the airway. When humans sleep, they lose muscle tone, causing those tissues to collapse into the airway. As you try to breathe against those tissues, they vibrate. These vibrations are snores. The more the vibration, the louder and more often you snore. If the tissues block the airway enough, your breathing can be significantly reduced or even stopped. These episodes may last a few seconds or a few minutes, and can occur over and over throughout the night. Each episode may cause you to wake up briefly, resume normal breathing, fall back to sleep and start it all over again, all night long. Most people aren't even aware they're having breathing problems or waking up. The lack of breathing can lead to heart, lung and brain problems, including short term memory problems, heart attacks and strokes. The repeated awakenings lead to daytime sleepiness and fatigue. If you have enough of these episodes, you get a diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome.
There are a number of other things we can detect during your study (sleep walking, REM Behavior Disorder, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, obesity hypoventilation, and many others), but most people we see are here for sleepiness related to possible OSAS.
What treatment options are there for OSAS?
There are a number of treatment options for OSAS, including CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), surgical intervention, and dental appliances. If a significant amount of breathing problems are observed during the night of your study, we will test the effectiveness of CPAP. CPAP therapy consists of a shoebox sized machine at your bedside which collects room air. This air is then pressurized a bit and sent through tubing to a mask worn over the nose and/or mouth. As you breathe in and out, the pressure of this air holds your airway open. Your breathing remains stable, your snores stop, and you sleep soundly without waking up. Worn nightly, CPAP therapy can restore your energy level and improve your overall health and quality of life. It is also important to note, while we may try CPAP in the lab, you and your physician will determine the best treatment for your condition, be it CPAP or some other mode of therapy.
What happens in the morning?
The sleep study is usually ended between 5:00-5:30 AM, at which time you will be unhooked, given some paperwork and then be free to leave. We have showers if needed, however, we must close and lock up promptly at 6:00 AM. If you are dependent on others for transportation to and from the lab, please be sure they are available at the appropriate times.
What happens to all the data that was collected?
Your test will be scored and then analyzed by a boarded sleep physician, and a complete report will be faxed to your physician within seven business days. In these busy times, we encourage you to follow up with your physician. It is your responsibility to see your doctor to discuss the results and treatment options.