Many people may wonder if they have sleep apnea, but dismiss the thought because of misconceptions about sleep testing. It is estimated that 26 percent of adults between the ages of 30 and 70 have sleep apnea. And yet, many go untreated and untested. The consequences of untreated sleep apnea are serious. The ramifications can be heart attacks, strokes1, diabetes, heart failure, depression and cognitive degeneration. Saying yes to a sleep study is the best choice you can make for your health. The earlier you get diagnosed, the earlier you are able to treat it in order to eliminate or prolong serious health issues2. The best way to take on fear is knowledge, so here is a breakdown of everything someone afraid of sleep testing should know.
What is a Sleep Center?
Unfortunately, many persons don’t choose a sleep center as their first choice for diagnosis of their symptoms of sleep apnea. However, many sleep disorders cannot be determined unless a study is performed on your sleeping patterns. There are different types of sleep studies and even an at home option, but it is often ideal to have an in-depth look at your symptoms. This can only be truly effective if completed in the sleep center. As was demonstrated in this 2016 study, sleep centers are able to understand a wide variety of issues when it comes to sleep deprivation.
These are just a few of the most common sleeping tests:
Polysomnography: This overnight test measures brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing, leg and eye movements.
50/50 or Split Night: After you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, the other portion of the test will be completed. This combines the Polysomnography along with a titration portion.
BiPap or BiLevel: This is conducted on the 2nd night of study or of titration. It’s a CPAP device that has a lower pressure on the exhale.
The Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT): This is a daytime test that immediately follows a night time test. It is used to determine the level of daytime sleepiness.
They Aren’t What You Think
When some people think of a testing center, they think of a cold and sterile laboratory. They may even picture having to fall asleep on a cold metal table while people in white coats stare and take notes on their every move. This is fortunately, not an accurate description of the centers. They are comfortable, clean and some say even like a hotel room. They are usually located within an office building with hotel-like rooms. For an accurate picture of what the testing centers look like, click here. The technicians and the entire team are there to help patients get the complete rest they deserve.
The benefits of finding out whether a person has OSA or not are tremendous. Dr. Mostafavi, a leader in sleep medicine research, states, “Potential benefits of successful treatment of OSA include improved quality of life, improved systemic blood pressure control, reduced motor vehicle crashes, reduced healthcare utilization and costs, and possibly decreased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Weight loss and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy have been shown to improve outcomes in randomized trials.” The uncertainty of going to a testing center is far outweighed by the benefit that a diagnosis can bring to a person’s life.
They Are Beautiful
Advanced Sleep Medicine Service’s sleep centers are beautiful. We believe it’s vital for patients to feel at home in order to get the most accurate data. If an individual is anxious about the fear of the unknown, they can address these concerns with their doctor and may ask for a tour of the facility in order to become familiar with the environment before the big night.
The Sleep Study Process
Preparation: To make the most out of a sleep study, it’s important to make everything as similar to a typical night time routine. This means the patient should take normal pajamas, toiletries and should have already eaten a typical dinner meal.
Upon arrival, the patient will be greeted by a Sleep Technologist. They work overnight, serving around 3 people at a time. They will all be certified as either a respiratory therapist or RPSGT (registered polysomnography technician). After taking vitals, the patient will be brought to their room to get ready for bed. When they are ready to lie down, the technician will enter to attach small, soft electrodes to the body that sends information the tech will be monitoring throughout the night.
While it may not sound comfortable to fall asleep with a bunch of wires, it is highly unlikely that no sleep will occur. Even if the individual doesn’t feel like they were able to sleep as normally as they usually do because of the different environment, there will still be plenty of helpful data for the physician to evaluate.
Depending on what test you are in for, you will be able to go home shortly after your first night. A diagnosis will be made by the attending physician and sent onto your doctor to discuss the results. It’s really that easy!
How soon will I hear the results?
After the data has been collected, the technicians and the physician need to score and evaluate the gathered data. After diagnosing, the results will be sent to your doctor in 7-10 days.
Do sleep studies hurt?
No, quite the opposite! We aim to make the rooms and environment extremely comfortable. Additionally, the electrodes and sensors you sleep with are soft and painless.
Should I take my medicine before the sleep study?
Yes, as this is supposed to be reflective of a typical night for you, take any medications that you normally do.
Can my spouse / friend /parent / child come with me to keep me company?
Spouses or friends may attend the first 45 minutes of the sleep study, but then they must leave. However, if a minor is a patient they are required to have a guardian present.
Can I go to the bathroom at night?
Of course. There is a bell for you to ring the technician if you need anything. It is no problem for them to come in and disconnect the wires if you need to get up at any time. They will reconnect you upon your return to bed.
In-center sleep tests are comfortable, convenient and comprehensive. Let the myth of sleep centers being scary pass and request your test with us today!
- American Academy of Neurology, Neurology Clinical Practice, June 2013, “Early diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea after stroke” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3721244/
- American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, April 1, 2018, “Obstructive Sleep Apnea Severity Affects Amyloid Burden in Cognitively Normal Elderly. A Longitudinal Study.” https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/rccm.201704-0704OC