What is a sleep study?
A sleep study is an assessment performed while a patient sleeps to evaluate breathing patterns, oxygen levels, heart rate and other issues that may cause a disrupted pattern of sleep. Sleep studies are often used to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition that causes breathing to be interrupted repeatedly during sleep, sometimes dozens of times in a single night. OSA is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, obesity and other serious medical issues.
What are the Sleep Study Options?
There are eight kinds of sleep studies available at Bluepoint Medical Associates including:
- Polysomnogram : This study uses 16 or more measurements to monitor sleep patterns including EEG and respiratory activity.
- Maintenance Wakefulness Test : During this test, you sit quietly in a comfortable position, looking straight ahead during daytime hours. You will be asked to stay awake for a certain period of time. The test usually involves 4 trials of about 40 minutes.
- Titration/ Re-Titration : This test is used to determine the necessary pressure of a CPAP device for a patient.
- Home Sleep Test: This is a version of the polysomnogram that takes place in your home. It is often used for the elderly, chronically ill, or homebound. A technician will show you how to use the equipment to gather accurate data.
- Split Study : This study splits an overnight study in half for severe cases of sleep apnea. The first part of the night is a polysomnogram.
- PAP-NAP : This daytime study includes a one-on-one session with a sleep technician to have a modified CPAP hook-up to help with desensitization of masks and air pressures used with CPAP devices.
- Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) : This study measures how quickly you fall asleep during quiet situations during the day. It typically takes place during the day following your polysomnogram and is the standard for measuring daytime sleepiness. The study is also used to evaluate patients who may have narcolepsy.
- MATRX : During this study, a sleep apnea patient goes to sleep wearing a customized mold for their teeth, prepared by a participating dentist. As the patient sleep, the technician adjusts the protrusion to find the best adjustment or setting to stop the sleep apnea. This test determines if a patient is a good candidate for using an oral appliance to address sleep apnea.
How can I tell if I need a sleep study?
Sleep studies are often performed in people who:
- snore or wake from sleep gasping for air or feeling “panicky”
- have heart disease or have had a heart attack or other cardiovascular issue
- have had a stroke
- feel extremely tired during the day or fall asleep unintentionally during the day or evening
- are obese
Snoring is not necessarily an indicator of a sleep problem; likewise, not all sleep problems cause snoring. The best way to determine if a sleep study is indicated is to discuss any sleep-related symptoms including fatigue during the office visit.
How are sleep studies performed?
Many sleep studies are conducted in special sleep labs. During the study, electrodes are attached to the skin at several locations to record the heart's electrical activity and other devices are used to measure breathing and oxygen levels. A technician will monitor sleep activity throughout the night and prepare a final report once the study is complete. Some sleep studies can be performed in the patient's own home.
What happens after a sleep study?
Once the sleep study is complete, the doctor will review the study report and determine the most appropriate course of action to help patients overcome sleep problems and enjoy better-quality, more restorative sleep. Some sleep issues may be addressed with lifestyle changes while other may require a more comprehensive approach, including the use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device to assist in breathing during sleep.