A sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram, helps to diagnose sleep disorders. A sleep study is a painless test where you fall asleep as usual, but you fall asleep for at least six hours in a room in the hospital. You are allowed to take your normal medicines, sleep in any position that is comfortable, and use the restroom as often as needed.
There are no special preparations needed for a sleep study, but avoiding caffeine for 8 hours prior is suggested for a rested night's sleep.
During sleep, staff monitor you, recording brain activity, eye movement, muscle activity, breathing and heart rates, how much air moves in and out of the lungs, and the percentage of oxygen in the blood.
A physician trained in sleep studies analyzes the results to determine if you have a sleep disorder, how severe it is, and what treatment may be recommended. These results are given to your healthcare provider 5 to 7 days after your sleep study. Your healthcare provider will follow up with you to determine the best course of action.
Most insurance plans cover the test cost. Patients are encouraged to contact their health insurance provider regarding their plan's coverage.
Below is information about two common sleep disorders.
Sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder. It is a serious disorder in which a persons breathing is interrupted during sleep. Each pause in breathing typically lasts 10 to 20 seconds or more. These pauses can occur 20 to 30 times or more an hour, causing the individual to awaken many times during the night and experience problem sleepiness during the day.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
Loud snoring during sleep
Choking or gasping during sleep
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Memory or learning problems
Being unable to concentrate
Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
Having a family history of sleep apnea
Having high blood pressure
Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes a
person to have difficulty staying awake. It can cause a person to suddenly fall asleep during the day, called a sleep attack, even after getting enough sleep at night.
Symptoms of narcolepsy can start
suddenly or appear gradually and include:
Excessive daytime sleepiness with
Sudden loss of muscle tone and
control while awake
Sudden inability to move or speak
while falling asleep or waking up
Vivid dreams while falling asleep or
Risk factors for narcolepsy include:
A family member with narcolepsy
Having certain thyroid disorders
Having an autoimmune disorder
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