What is Polysomnography?
Polysomnography, the most common type of sleep study, is a test used to determine sleep patterns in people with sleeping disorders by recording brain waves during sleep, oxygen levels in the blood heart rate and breathing patterns. The test is normally performed in a hospital or at a sleep study center where professionals can monitor patients overnight in order to diagnose sleeping disorders.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSIDER HAVING A POLYSOMNOGRAPHY SLEEP STUDY DONE?
A lot can happen during the hours you are sleeping, so a Polysomnography will allow a medical professional to monitor how you move, breathe and sound when you experience each stage of sleep. You should consider having a Polysomnography done when you experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- If you experience symptoms of sleep apnea or other sleep-related breathing problems. Sleep Apnea is a condition that causes your breathing to occasionally stop during sleep.
- You involuntarily flex and extend your legs during sleep.
- You experience daytime drowsiness and involuntary attacks of sleep, a disorder known as narcolepsy.
- You act out dreams, a condition known as REM sleep disorder.
- You sleepwalk or thrash about during sleep.
- You have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, a condition known as insomnia.
WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF SLEEP THAT THE POLYSOMNOGRAPHY MONITORS?
The sleep process is divided into stages of sleep. The first stage is called non-rapid eye movement or NREM stage. During the NREM stage your brain waves and eye movement slow down. The second stage of sleep kicks in about an hour or two into sleep. During this stage your brain activity increases and your eye movement becomes more rapid. This stage is called the REM stage. Sleep disorders can disturb this process. The Polysomnography monitors each of the stages of sleep, cycle after cycle, to determine when your sleep is disturbed.
HOW MUCH PREPARATION IS NEEDED FOR THE SLEEP STUDY?
Preparation for a Polysomnography sleep study is minimal. Avoid drinking alcohol and drinking or eating anything with caffeine during the afternoon and evening prior to the test as they may affect your normal sleep patterns. And that’s all. You want to make sure that nothing is getting in the way of you falling asleep while you’re there.
WHAT IS A POLYSOMNOGRAPHY SLEEP STUDY LIKE?
A Polysomnography sleep study is non-invasive and very easy to participate in. Just find and contact a Sleep Study center in your area and go for a night. The following describe a typical Polysomnography:
You will be asked to arrive at the test site –which will either be a hospital or sleep center – on the evening of your test for an overnight stay. You will also be asked to bring with you items you normally use for your bedtime routine, including your nightclothes.
When you arrive you will be escorted to the room where the Polysomnography is done – a room not much different than a hotel room. The room will be dark and quiet for the duration of the test. The room contains a video camera used by the Polysomnography technologist to monitor what is happening in the room when the lights are out. There will also be a two-way audio communication system to allow the technologist to speak to you and hear you outside the room.
After you are ready for bed sensors are placed on your scalp, temples, chest and legs. These sensors will be connected by wires to a computer. Finally a small clip will be placed on your finger or ear to monitor the level of oxygen in your blood. Once you’re all set up you just go to sleep and the testing staff will monitor you throughout the night. Now, it might take you longer than normal to fall asleep at the test site, but this will not affect the results of the test, as a full night’s sleep is not necessary for accurate results.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE SLEEP STUDY?
In the morning, after you wake, the sensors are removed completing the test and you are free to go home and resume all your normal activities. You will be given a follow-up appointment (approximately two weeks from the test date) when your doctor will review the test results with you and discuss with you any treatment or further evaluation you may need.
ARE THERE ANY RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH POLYSOMNOGRAPHY?
Polysomnography is a noninvasive and painless test. Some patients have reported sensitivity to the adhesive used to attach the sensors to your skin.
For more information on Polysomnography and sleep studies in general, read our article; Always Sleepy? Sleep Studies Can Help You Figure Out Your Sleep Deprivation
Trackback from your site.