Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What to expect on the first overnight sleep study

Of all the health related tests that you can experience the overnight sleep study (polysomnogram) could be one of the strangest that you will ever experience. Unlike other tests you will need to be completely asleep in order for the test to produce the proper results. That is difficult in itself considering the reason that you are having the test is that you have a hard time going to sleep.

In an earlier post I wrote about one of my experiences with sleep studies. Today I will generally go over what to expect on the first overnight sleep study.

Before you show up to the hospital or where ever the test is taking place instructions will be given to you. On the day of the study you are instructed not to take any naps. That makes sense because you need to be very, very tired at the onset of the sleep study and definitely no caffeine. No caffeine can be difficult if you are hooked on coffee or soft drinks.

The test usually starts around nine o’clock in the evening. You probably won’t be the only person taking the test so it may take a little time before the technicians get you ready.

The room that you are put in is supposed to look less like a hospital room and more like a bedroom. But most bedrooms don’t have a camera pointing at you in bed. Of course some people do have a camera in their bedroom but that is another post on another blog.

After you have gotten into your sleep wear, the technician will apply all the wires and metal discs that are needed to score your test. And there are quite a lot of wires and metal discs. From you head to your chest to your legs and feet you will have the metal discs placed all over you. They will be held on by glue like substance that you will find is very hard to get off your skin and especially your hair. The wires are attached to the metal discs which transfers information to the technicians’ monitors.

After you are hooked up the technician will go into the observation room and run through a series of tests to make sure that everything is hooked up correctly. The tech will communicate through a speaker that is in your room.

When everything has been calibrated, it is time to go to sleep! This is the difficult part because of all the things that are attached to your body. And the thought that someone in another room is watching you can be a little unnerving. But you must try; if you don’t the whole evening will be a waste of time.

If this is your first study you probably won’t be interrupted all night. Of course if you need to use the bathroom you have a buzzer to ring the technician who comes into your room and helps you and your set of wires to the bathroom.

If it is a split study half way through the night you would be fitted for a cpap calibration.

At the end of the test you will hear the voice of the sleep study technician telling you to wake up. The tech comes into the room and unhooks you of all you wires and metal discs. Most places have showers so you can attempt to wash the glue out of your hair. Usually it takes a few showers to get that stuff out.

The doctor will get back to you on how you scored on the sleep study. At that point he can tell you with certainty whether you have sleep apnea or not.

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