Sleep Studies

What Is a Sleep Study?

A sleep study, or polysomnography, is a test used in the diagnosis of sleep disorders or underlying neuropathic issues. A sleep study measures your brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate and breathing patterns. Testing may also include monitoring eye and leg activity during sleep.

Information attained during sleep studies can help in the development of a healthy sleep treatment plan.

What Are the Different Sleep Studies or Tests?

The most common sleep test monitors and records data about your sleep patterns and your body during a full night’s sleep. Sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) and daytime wakefulness may also be included in testing. Multiple sleep latency tests can also be done with a series of daytime naps and monitoring brain activity and eye movement. Daytime wakefulness tests measure alertness or fatigue during the daytime hours.

Why Are Sleep Studies Conducted?

Sleep studies are performed as part of a sleep disorder diagnosis. Sleep disorders can be caused by different factors like neurological or breathing conditions so identification is imperative for treatment. Results from sleep studies can also help healthcare professionals to rule out other possible conditions.

How Does a Sleep Study Work?

Sleep studies can be performed at home with a portable diagnostic device or at medical sleep centers.

At-Home Testing

Many patients choose to be tested at home with a portable device for more convenience and comfort. Testing at home usually works by using facial and chest sensors and a simplified monitor. The most common at-home test is a sleep apnea test or CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) which measures breathing patterns, oxygen levels and breathing effort while worn. Because at-home tests offer limited information, if deeper data is needed a sleep center test may be recommended.

Sleep Center Testing

A sleep center test is a non-invasive overnight exam that provides doctors with comprehensive sleep pattern data that can help in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. These might be performed at a hospital or at a sleep center. Sensors are attached to multiple areas of the head, chest and extremities. During sleep, these sensors monitor the cycles and sleep cycles of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and nonREM or NREM sleep. These tests provide key data in diagnosis by providing a person’s eye movement, blood oxygen levels, heart and breathing rate and movements during sleep.

Preparing For Your Sleep Study

It is common for doctors to ask patients to avoid food or drinks containing alcohol or caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns and skew sleep study results and can even make sleep disorders worse.

Napping in the afternoon before the test should also be avoided. Patients are asked to bathe or shower and avoid lotions, colognes and makeup before testing, as they can interfere with monitoring.

Sleep Study Results

After sleep test results are obtained, polysomnography technicians and your doctor will analyze the results and begin to treat your particular sleep disorder. Sleep test results commonly include:

  • Brain waves and eye movement
  • Heart rate, breathing patterns and changes in blood oxygen levels
  • Leg movements or unusual movements during sleep
  • Instructions for use if a CPAP device is recommended

This information will dictate how a healthy sleep treatment plan will be designed based on any sleep test abnormalities or sleep disorders.

Learn more about sleep disorder treatments.

If you are suffering from a sleep disorder or unhealthy sleep patterns, Banner Health can help. Our dedicated team of sleep specialists can diagnose your unique symptoms and design a healthy sleep treatment plan.