Adults need seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. When that is cut short, people miss out on crucial sleep stages that help the brain and body function optimally. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to long-term physical and mental health issues.
If you’re one of the 70 million Americans with sleep problems, you may benefit from a sleep study.
What is a sleep study?
In many cases, you will first be asked to keep a home diary of your sleep/wake patterns. A diary, along with a history and medical exam, may be enough information for a sleep specialist to accurately diagnose what is causing your sleep problems. When they need more information, they rely on a sleep study.
Home sleep studies
A home sleep study is often a first option. We use a small portable device to help diagnose sleep apnea, which occurs when breathing starts and stops during sleep. For up to three nights, patients use sensors that measure:
Once the study period is completed, the information on the device is downloaded and interpreted by a sleep specialist.
Standard sleep study
The alternative to a home sleep study is a standard sleep study (polysomnogram), which occurs in a laboratory overnight. A sleep specialist will connect painless sensors to parts of your body to monitor your sleep. Throughout the night the doctor evaluates:
If you have excessive sleepiness during the day, your sleep specialist may request a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT). This test measures how quickly you can fall asleep during the day, measured over five distinct nap periods.
What sleep disorders can a sleep study find?
Sleep studies can diagnose these common sleep disorders:
Your sleep specialist can likely diagnose other sleep disorders without a formal sleep study. These include:
How sleep studies can improve sleep
An accurate diagnosis from a sleep study can ensure you receive the appropriate therapy to help you sleep. Sleep treatments include:
The importance of overcoming sleep problems
You should speak to your doctor and request a referral to a sleep specialist if you aren’t getting seven hours of sleep most nights, or if you feel tired despite getting enough sleep. Sleep is essential to good health and longevity. Lack of sleep results in: