What can a Sleep Study diagnose?

what can I expect during a sleep study

Sleep studies are normally performed in a sleep center or a sleep lab.  This may or may not be in a hospital.  If the study is conducted in the sleep center, you may have an overnight stay.  However, this is not always etched in stone. 

The good thing about sleep studies is you will not endure any pain.  The only thing that may affect you is skin irritation from the sensors.  When the sensors are removed from your skin, you will not experience any more irritation.

If your sleep study is during the day, bring a book or a magazine to keep you from getting bored.  Although the risks of sleep studies are minimal, these studies take time (at least several hours).

Polysomnography vs Multiple Sleep Latency Test


Polysomnography (PSG)

  • Diagnose Sleep Apnea, Sleep Disorders
  • Monitor your oxygen level, eye movement, brain waves, heart rate and breathing
  • Track Sleep patterns
Multiple Sleep Latency Test

Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)

  • Diagnose Narcolepsy (daytime drowsiness), idiopathic hypersomnia (Excessive Sleep during daytime)
  • Monitor how quickly you fall asleep
  • Track Sleepiness during daytime

There are different tests for sleep studies.  One of them is called a Polysomnogram or PSG test.  This test is conducted in a sleep center or sleep lab.  More than likely with this test, it will require an overnight stay. 

You will have electrodes and monitors on your scalp, face, chest, limbs and fingers.  As you are sleeping, the following items will be monitored:

  • The movement of your eyes
  • The activity in your brain
  • The activity in your muscles
  • The rate of your heart
  • The rhythm of your heart
  • Blood pressure
  • Air movement in and out of your lungs
  • How much oxygen is in your blood

As you sleep, the staff on duty will use sensors to check on your as you sleep during the night.  After the PSG is complete, the sleep specialist will go over the results with you.  They will be able to determine whether or not you have sleep apnea and if it is serious or not.  From the results, they will be able to chart a course of treatment.

A Multiple Sleep Latency Test or MSLT, is used to determine how sleepy you are in the daytime.  This test is usually performed after a PSG.  You will have devices placed on your scalp for monitoring purposes. 

With this test, you will have to take a nap at least five times at 20 minutes for each one.  This is supposed to be done every 2 hours during times that you would be alert.  The testers will check how long it will take you to go to sleep and how long you napped. 

For those people who take less than five minutes to get to sleep are more likely candidates for a sleep disorder.  When the testing is completed, the Sleep Specialist will provide you with the results and consult you about treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if you need a sleep study?

If you are a heavy snorer or feeling drowsy during the day or experiencing other symptoms of sleep disorders, you should consider having a sleep study. Not sleeping well can risk your life in many cases. It can cause physical illness like heart diseases, mental illness like anxiety and Sleep-deprived driving accident.

How long does a sleep study take?

Getting a sleep study will take about 40-60 minutes to set up. You stay overnight trying to get around 8-9 hours of sleep and leave in the morning. This usually takes place in hotel lookalike room. Each tester requires to placed the electrodes on their head, face and body.

What if I can’t fall asleep during my sleep study?

There’s no perfect solution on how to fall asleep fast during your sleep study. You just have to make yourself comfortable to sleep in a new place. Following your normal routine, wake up early might help. Exercise can be good to get you a bit tired for sleep and avoid Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotine.

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Published by InsomniaSign

Do I have Insomnia? 100+ Insomnia Frequently Asked Questions.

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