A sleep study is recommended to you by your doctor, but you may not fully understand why you should participate
in one. The truth is that a sleep study is an extremely useful diagnostic tool for evaluating and diagnosing sleeping disorders. If your doctor has suggested that you undergo a sleep study then it is very likely that there is a good reason that they feel like you should participate.
The professionals at Mark Levy DDS in Columbus, Ohio may recommend you participate in a sleep study if you’re showing signs of sleep apnea or other sleeping disorders. This harmless study monitors and evaluates several areas as you sleep to help provide doctors with valuable information that they are unable to gather while you’re awake.
When you undergo a sleep study you’re providing your doctor with a look at symptoms and problems that they may never see otherwise. The sleep study will monitor each stage of sleep and your sleep cycles to identify what may be causing your sleep pattern to be disrupted.
As you fall asleep, the first stage of sleep is called non-rapid eye movement sleep, or NREM. This is when your brain waves slow down considerably. The EEG that will be used during your sleep study will be able to show your doctor your brainwaves so they can better understand your NREM phase of sleep.
The NREM stage of sleep will typically last one to two hours before your brain activity speeds up again and the next phase of sleep begins. This next phase, in which your eyes move back and forth rapidly, is referred to as rapid eye movement, or REM sleep. This phase of sleep is when most dreams occur.
Most people will cycle through these phases several times a night, usually about four to six cycles. Each cycle between NREM and REM lasts about 90 minutes. Typically the REM sleep stage will lengthen with each cycle through the night, however many sleep disorders disturb your natural sleep process which can be harmful to your mind and body.
The sleep study will also evaluate your breathing, heart rate, blood oxygen level, brain wave activity, bodily movements, and so much more. Sleep studies are noninvasive and harmless. There’s no risk to the patient who is undergoing a sleep study as they are monitored throughout the process by a sleep technician. The information collected from the various sensors is fed into a computer and then presented to your doctor for evaluation. Your doctor then can review the material to see if you are suffering from a sleep disorder, and then they can help you get the proper treatment.
A polysomnography, or sleep study, may be recommended by your doctor if they suspect that you may have a sleeping disorder based upon the symptoms that you’re experiencing. There are certain symptoms that present themselves during the daytime that are actually a result of problems that occur while you’re sleeping.
For example, if your doctor suspects that you may have sleep apnea or other sleep related breathing disorders then it’s likely that they will recommend you participate in a sleep study. With sleep related breathing disorders you can actually cease breathing up to hundreds of times per night. The scary thing is that you may not overtly be aware of the condition that you’re suffering from, but your doctor will be familiar with the symptoms and may suggest that you be evaluated further through a sleep study.
Other conditions may be more obvious but still require further information prior to diagnosis. Those who suffer from periodic limb movement disorder involuntarily extend and flex their legs while sleeping. This disorder can be associated with restless leg syndrome. By monitoring your movements as you sleep, your doctor is able to collect additional information to rule out other disorders and provide you with an accurate diagnosis after you participate in a sleep study. Other unusual activities that may be done while you’re sleeping can also be monitored such as sleep walking or REM sleep behavior disorder where you act out dreams as you sleep.
Sleep studies can also provide valuable insight into other conditions such as narcolepsy, where you may have extremely overwhelming drowsiness during the day and sudden, unexpected attacks of sleep. Narcolepsy is a very dangerous sleep disorder as it not only affects you, but those around you as well.
Unexplained chronic insomnia can also be diagnosed and evaluated through a sleep study. Those who suffer from unexplained chronic insomnia tend to consistently have trouble not only falling asleep, but staying asleep. By participating in a sleep study your doctor is able to evaluate if perhaps another sleep disorder is the underlying cause for your condition.
It is highly recommended that if your doctor recommends a sleep study that you follow through and participate. The information that they will gather can make a huge difference in your quality of sleep and quality of life.