If you are one of those 60 million Americans who suffer from poor-quality sleep, you might want to consider a sleep study. A sleep study is a noninvasive diagnostic test that helps sleep medicine providers diagnose or rule out health issues.
Typically, sleep medicine doctors recommend a sleep study when an individual has symptoms of a health condition that affects sleep to determine treatment options for conditions and to see if they will benefit from sleep treatment.
Here is a comprehensive guide on sleep studies, including different types of sleep studies and how they monitor and evaluate sleep health and guide treatment.
A sleep study is a diagnostic test that tracks and records how our bodily system works while we are asleep. The test uses sensors that track the activity of our heart, brain, and respiratory system and give sleep medicine providers a comprehensive view of the quality of our sleep.
Different types of sleep studies are available depending on individual symptoms and sleep disorders that may be present.
This is the most popular sleep study type performed in a sleep lab. Individuals with sleep problems stay overnight in the lab, where various functions are measured, including eye movements, brain and muscle activity, blood oxygen levels, respiratory rate, snoring, heart rate, and body positioning and movements.
Multiple Sleep Latency Test
This test measures how quickly an individual falls asleep and enters rapid eye movement (REM) sleep during daytime naps. Excessive daytime sleepiness is one of the most common health conditions diagnosed with multiple sleep latency tests.
Home Sleep Apnea Test
This test is performed at home and collects data about the patient’s heart rate, breathing, and other variables overnight to help sleep medicine doctors diagnose sleep apnea.
How Does Sleep Study Monitor and Evaluate Sleep Health?
A sleep study uses multiple types of sensors, each tracking a specific body system or process to let a sleep specialist take an in-depth look at an individual’s sleep. The most common sensors used during a sleep study are as follows:
- Electroencephalography (EEG). This sensor attaches to the head and detects and records the electrical activity of the brain, known as brain waves, while an individual is asleep. Different wave types happen during different stages of sleep, and this sensor detects those to identify sleep disorders and issues.
- Electrocardiography (EKG). An EKG sensor attaches to the chest to pick up the electrical activities of the heart, allowing healthcare providers to see if there is any problem with the heart’s rhythm and internal electrical system.
- Electromyogram (EMG). This sensor is attached to the skin of the legs and face, to track the movement of the muscles while asleep. It is pertinent to mention that, unlike standard diagnostic EMG, the EMG sensors used during sleep study do not activate any muscles.
- Electro-oculography (EOG). An EOG sensor is placed on the skin under your eyes to detect eye activity while asleep.
- Breathing sensors. These sensors detect the air movement through your nose and mouth during sleep.
- Respiratory inductive plethysmography (RIP) belt. This belt detects the expansion of your torso, especially around your belly and chest, when you breathe.
- Pulse oximeter. A pulse oximeter is an adhesive sensor that sticks to the tip of your index fingers and reads your pulse and oxygen level in your blood.
- Audio and video monitoring. Audio and video monitoring during sleep allows the staff and sleep medicine provider to see and hear what happens when an individual is asleep. These audio and video device recordings are synchronized with the sensors’ data so that they can interpret sensor readings and see what happens when a person sleeps.
Using these sensors and interpreting their results, sleep medicine providers can diagnose sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, sleepwalking, sleep paralysis, night terrors, and other types of parasomnias and disruptive sleep disorders.
Upon diagnosing a sleep disorder, a sleep medicine specialist works with you to develop a personalized treatment plan to improve your sleep quality while successfully managing the symptoms associated with your sleep disorders. Depending on your unique diagnosis, you may require a range of treatments, such as:
- Lifestyle modifications
- Sleep medications
- Medical devices, such as CPAP therapy machine
- Strategies to retrain your body and mind to improve sleep.
Sleep Study in Weatherford, TX
If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep, do not delay; contact our sleep medicine provider at Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas. Our sleep expert can diagnose and manage a comprehensive range of sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, and more, to improve the sleep quality of patients. We provide in-office sleep studies and at-home sleep studies, ongoing treatment plans, patient education, and follow-up care so that you can return to a peaceful and restorative sleep every night.