What is a sleep study?
A sleep study, otherwise known as a polysomnography test is a device that monitors your sleep at night. Most sleep studies are performed to diagnose obstructive sleep apnoea, and occasionally Upper Airways Resistance Syndrome. Sometimes they can be used to diagnose other diseases such as Restless Legs Syndrome, or Epilepsy.
Sleep Studies are performed over one night and can be either performed at home or in a hospital. Normally if you are worried about Obstructive Sleep Apnoea or Upper Airways Resistance Syndrome, then a study performed at home is all you need.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
Is a relatively common condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing.
This may lead to regularly interrupted sleep, which can have a big impact on quality of life and increases the risk of developing certain conditions.
What is it like to have a Sleep Study?
A sleep study is a non-invasive test, and does not cause any pain or side effects. The device is a smartphone-sized box which is attached via elastic bands that gently wraps around your chest and stomach.
- There is a monitor that sits on your finger which monitors pulse rate and oxygen levels in your blood.
- The elastic straps that go around your chest are there to monitor how hard you are trying to breathe at night.
- The one around your stomach is compared to the one around your chest, and that provides information about people who are struggling to breathe at night (the chest and stomach move in different directions when someone is trying to breathe against a blockage).
- There is sometimes a cable that runs around your nose and monitors the airflow at whilst you breathe. This is very important when you are trying to diagnose Upper Airways Resistance Syndrome.
- There can be a number of other cables that lead to you head or legs to diagnose other conditions.
Common Sleep Apnoea Symptoms
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
- Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Sleepiness while driving
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
- Forgetfulness, mood changes, and decreased interest in sex
What is pulse oximetry?
Pulse oximetry is just the device that sits on your finger at night (monitoring heart rate and oxygen levels in the blood. It is not recommended to be used for sleep study as they are unable to detect most problems during sleep. It will only pick up very obvious severe sleep apnoea but it misses significant problems with sleep-disordered breathing. If you know you will only accept CPAP as a treatment option, then a pulse oximetry would be a reasonable choice.
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