What Can Be Diagnosed From a Sleep Study? Sleep Disorders


Sleep apnea and many other sleep problems are diagnosed using in-lab sleep examinations.

A sleep study is the study of physiological parameters while a person sleeps. It measures your tissue oxygen levels, heart rate, electroencephalogram, blood pressure, and respiratory pattern.

A sleep study is a detailed analysis used to identify sleep abnormalities, commonly known as polysomnography. During the study, a polysomnogram monitors your eye and leg movements.

A sleep center, sleep lab, or hospital’s sleep disorders unit can conduct polysomnography. To accommodate shift workers who generally sleep during the day, polysomnography is occasionally performed during the day.

To assess symptoms such as daytime sleepiness and possible factors for the condition such as high blood pressure, obesity, and age, your doctor may ask you to complete one or more questionnaires.

A sleep monitoring test may be recommended by your doctor if they suspect you to have sleep apnea.

A laboratory sleep study (polysomnography)

Sleep apnea and many other sleep problems are diagnosed using in-lab sleep examinations.

You’ll spend the night in a separate room that’s been furnished with your comfort in mind, much like a hotel room. Bring your regular sleeping necessities, including pajamas.

Studies on sleep are noninvasive. A blood sample is not required. However, your body will be fitted with a few wires. This makes it possible for the sleep specialist to observe your breathing, mental activity, and other vital symptoms while you’re sleeping.

The technician can better monitor your sleep the more at ease you are.

After you go to sleep, the technician will keep an eye on the following:

  • Your sleep cycle is based on your brain waves and eye movements
  • Your breathing, including oxygen levels, breathing stops, and snoring

Your sleep will be observed throughout the night if you participate in full-night sleep research. If you have sleep apnea, you might need to go back to the lab later to set up a breathing aid.

Split-night research uses the first half of the night to observe participants.

Sleep test at home

A reduced variant of an in-lab test is an at-home sleep test. No technician is present. Instead, a take-home portable breathing monitor kit will be recommended by your doctor.

You can go to bed at your usual time on the night of the test. To ensure that you accurately connect the monitoring sensors, pay close attention to the kit’s instructions.

The majority of in-home sleep apnea monitors are simple to set up. Typically, they consist of the following elements:

  • A finger clip that monitors your heart rate and oxygen saturation levels
  • A nasal cannula that monitors oxygen and airflow
  • Sensors that monitor your chest’s rise and fall

An at-home test does not track your movements, position, or sleep cycles the way an in-lab test does.

Your doctor will receive the test findings after you complete them. To go over the findings and decide on therapy, if necessary, they will get in touch with you.

A breathing disorder is associated with sleep, such as sleep apnea. When you have this illness, you’re breathing frequently stops and starts while you sleep.

What is a sleep study?

A sleep study, usually referred to as polysomnography, is a technique that tracks and assesses various bodily processes while you sleep, which include:

  • Breathing rate
  • Blood oxygen level
  • Heart rate
  • Brain waves
  • Leg motions and eye movements

The examination is conducted to identify sleep disorders. Sleep issues are brought on by ailments known as sleep disorders. These include having problems falling asleep, sleeping excessively, and breathing irregularly while you sleep.

Your whole health, safety, and enjoyment of life may be affected by sleep disturbances. Your risk of major disorders such as depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease may increase if you don’t get enough sleep.

Additionally, it could cause auto accidents and other mishaps. You may be able to prevent health problems by receiving early diagnosis and treatment for a sleep condition.


Why do we sleep?
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Conditions diagnosed by a sleep study

Your medical provider might advise polysomnography if they think you have the following:

  • Restless legs syndrome: You accidentally relax and extend your legs as you sleep if you have this sleep problem. Sometimes, restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea go hand in hand.
  • Narcolepsy: In this state, you experience extreme daytime sleepiness and unexpected sleep attacks.
  • Disruption of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior: Acting out dreams while you sleep is a symptom of this sleep disorder.
  • Irregular sleeping habits: If you engage in uncommon sleep behaviors such as walking, moving around a lot of rhythmic movements, your doctor might order this test.
  • Prolonged insomnia without cause: Your doctor might advise polysomnography if you frequently have difficulties falling or staying asleep.

Numerous sleep problems can be identified using a sleep study, including:

When you have sleep apnea, your breathing may briefly stop while you are asleep. Throughout a single night of sleep, you might experience several repeated breathing interruptions. As many as 30 episodes can air per hour.

You may find it challenging to fall asleep and/or stay asleep all through the night if you have insomnia.

When attempting to fall asleep, restless legs syndrome makes your legs feel unpleasant and produces a strong need to move them.

A neurological disorder known as narcolepsy (daytime drowsiness) is a result of it. You might find yourself sleeping through the day without warning. 

Additional sleep apnea tests include:

  • Electroencephalography: Assesses and documents brain wave activity
  • Electromyogram: Records muscular activities such as twitches of the face, grinding of the teeth, and leg movements while searching for REM sleep; due to the brain’s increased activity during REM sleep, vivid dreams frequently occur
  • Electrooculogram: Records eye movements, which are crucial in identifying the various stages of sleep, especially REM stage sleep
  • Electrocardiogram: Tracks heart rhythm
  • Snore microphone: Captures snoring activity
  • Nasal airflow sensor: Records airflow patterns

Why would I require a sleep test?

The following are typical causes for a sleep study:

  • Sleep apnea (periods where the breath stops)
  • Daytime indolence (sleepiness)
  • Hypersomnia (excess daytime sleep)
  • Sleep disorder (sudden onset of sleep)
  • Restless legs syndrome (a condition that causes uncomfortable leg sensations)

Sleep studies may be necessary for less frequent illnesses such as rapid eye movement disorders, sleepwalking, or nightmares that occur during nondreaming periods of sleep (sometimes known as “sleep terrors”).

Your healthcare professional could suggest a sleep study for additional factors besides insomnia.

How do I prepare for my sleep study?

Regarding how to be ready for your sleep study, precise instructions will be given to you.

For at least eight hours before your study, refrain from drinking alcohol or consuming anything that contains caffeine (such as coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, energy drinks, or protein bars).

Be sure to disclose to your doctor about all drugs you are taking. Before your study, you might be instructed to temporarily discontinue taking a medication.


If you have difficulties falling asleep, wake up frequently, do not feel fresh in the morning, snore, or have other signs of a sleep disorder, your doctor may invite you to participate in a sleep study.

You must spend the night in a sleep facility or lab as part of the research to be connected to several monitors that actually record your every breath and movement.

In the end, the report ought to provide a fairly accurate picture of your sleep hygiene for your primary care physician.

Because you can’t consume coffee or alcohol before the research begins, it’s a good idea to pack as though you were going to a hotel but not really sleeping there.

Many people worry that they won’t sleep during a sleep study or that they won’t stay asleep.

Medically Reviewed on 7/7/2022


Image Source: iStock image

Sleep study: Https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/polysomnography/about/pac-20394877

Sleep apnea tests and diagnosis: Https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/diagnosing-sleep-apnea

Sleep study: Https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/sleep-study/

5 Types of Sleep Tests and When to Use Them: Https://www.aastweb.org/blog/5-types-of-sleep-study-tests-and-when-to-use-them

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