Sleep Studies
Sleep Studies

Sleep Studies Sleep Studies

woman undergoing a sleep test

Sleep studies, also called polysomnography, are painless tests that measure how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep problems. They are also used to help your doctor diagnose sleep disorders.

The most common type of sleep studies record brain waves and monitor your heart rate, breathing, and the oxygen level in your blood during a full night of sleep.

Other ways to study your sleep include:

  • Multiple sleep latency tests measure how quickly you fall asleep during a series of daytime naps and use sensors to record your brain activity and eye movements.
  • A daytime maintenance of wakefulness test measures your ability to stay awake and alert.
  • Activity monitors help doctors see how much you sleep and how well you sleep. They are worn at home for several days or sometimes weeks.

Sleep tests can help your doctor diagnose sleep-related breathing disorders such as sleep apnea, sleep-related seizure disorders, sleep-related movement disorders, and sleep disorders that cause extreme daytime tiredness such as narcolepsy. Doctors also may use sleep tests to help diagnose or rule out restless legs syndrome.

Your doctor will determine whether you need your sleep test at a sleep center or if you can do it at home with a portable device. Sleep tests at a sleep center usually last overnight. Removable sensors will be placed on your scalp, face, eyelids, chest, limbs, and a finger. These sensors record your brain waves, heart rate, breathing effort and rate, oxygen levels, and muscle movements before, during, and after sleep. There is a small risk of irritation from the sensors, but this will go away after they are removed.

Your doctor will review your sleep test results and develop a treatment plan for any diagnosed sleep disorder. Untreated sleep disorders can raise your risk of heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and depression. Sleep disorders also have been linked to an increased risk for injury and car accidents.

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