In-Lab Sleep Study
Polysomnography, also called a sleep study, is a test used to diagnose sleep disorders. Polysomnography records your brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, heart rate and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements during the study. You'll be asked to come to the sleep center in the evening for polysomnography so that the test can record your nighttime sleep patterns. Polysomnography is occasionally done during the day to accommodate shift workers who habitually sleep during the day.
You arrive at the sleep center in the evening for sleep study and stay overnight. You may bring items you use for your bedtime routine, and you can sleep in your own nightclothes. The room where sleep study is done is similar to a hotel room, and it's dark and quiet during the test. You don't share the room with anyone else. The room has a video camera, so the polysomnography technologists monitoring you can see what's happening in the room when the lights are out. It also has an audio system, so they can talk to you and hear you from their monitoring area outside the room. (See our sleep study room below).
After you get ready for bed, one of the technologists places sensors on your scalp, temples, chest and legs using a mild adhesive, such as glue or tape. The sensors are connected by wires to a computer, but the wires are long enough to let you move normally in bed. A small clip also is placed on your finger or ear to monitor the level of oxygen in your blood.
While you sleep, a technologist monitors your:
Blood oxygen level
Snoring and other noise you may make as you sleep
All of these measurements are recorded on a continuous graph.
Polysomnography technologists monitor you throughout the night.
If you need assistance, you can talk to them through the monitoring equipment. They can come into the room to detach the wires if you need to get up during the night.
During the study, the technologist may have you try a positive airway pressure (PAP) machine for sleep apnea. This is a device that consists of a tight-sealing nosepiece through which a gentle stream of air is delivered to enhance your breathing.
You will have the opportunity to try on a PAP device before the sleep study begins so that you are not surprised by it if tried later in the night. If necessary, oxygen also may be used during the study to bolster your breathing.