What is a Sleep Study (Polysomnogram)
A sleep study, also called a polysomnogram (PSG), is a non-invasive study conducted at a sleep center (usually) or at your home (uncommonly), where sleep specialists monitor your sleeping behavior. Your sleep is monitored via PSG equipment in order to evaluate how you are sleeping, what your brain is doing while you sleep and when it's doing it, and, where applicable, any sleeping disorders you may be dealing with.
Sleep studies provides critical diagnostic information, and are a standard when you or your doctor suspects that a sleep disorder is present in your life.
What Does a Sleep Study Monitor?
A sleep study will monitor many different aspects of your sleeping. Some of these include your:
- Brain wave activity
- Eye movements
- Muscle contractions
- Heart Activity
- Blood oxygenation
Results from your sleep study are analyzed by sleep specialized and sent to your healthcare practitioner to be reviewed with you. These results can be informative, are essential in diagnosing sleep disorders, and can be generally interesting in satisfying curiosity.
What is the Process for Getting a Sleep Study
Usually, sleep studies are a critical tool used by doctors and healthcare practitioners to diagnose a sleeping disorder.
The first step in getting a sleep study is usually that you and/or your healthcare practitioner will notice red flags for sleep disorders. These signs are usually a result of sleep deprivation or other symptoms of specific sleep disorders. It's also common for bed partners no notice odd behaviors while their partner sleeps.
Next, you can contact us and we will walk you through the process to get started. Your doctor will give you a referral for a sleep study, which is usually covered by health insurance. You can tour our facility ahead of time so that you are comfortable.
Finally, when you sleep study scheduled date arrived we will conduct the study. After the sleep study, your healthcare practitioner will have a much better idea of what treatment to pursue depending on the results from the study.
So to summarize, the process for getting a sleep study is:
- Contact us or your doctor with potential sleep disorder concerns
- Get referral from your doctor
- Schedule your sleep study appointment
- Take tour ahead of time (optional)
- Conduct sleep study
- Review results with doctor
How Uncomfortable are Sleep Studies
Sleep studies are as non-invasive as possible. The most uncomfortable part for most people is usually being attached to sleep monitoring equipment.
That being said, most people do not find the sleeping monitoring equipment to be too uncomfortable: that is, not enough to inhibit their ability to fall asleep.
Beyond this, sleep studies are designed to be as comfortable (if not more so) than your own sleeping environment. Our sleep center, like others around the country, provide the following comforts:
- You have your own sleeping room
- You have your own bathroom
- It will be dark and quiet
- The accommodations will be comfortable
- You are able to bring any comforts to help you sleep, like a special pillow, blanket, etc.
Case in point, if the sleep studies were too uncomfortable then, for one, sleep evaluation results would be prone to inaccuracies and, secondly, sleep centers would be out of business!
Also consider this: sleep centers have many decades of experience creating comfortable sleep environments, using comfortable and proven techniques.
What if You Can't Sleep During Your Sleep Study
This is a common questions people have but is almost never a problem. The reality is that you, like everyone else, will likely have little to no more difficulty falling asleep during a sleep study than at home.
As touched upon above, depending on what your sleeping environment is like at home, it may actually be easier to sleep at our sleep center. For one, there will be less distractions. Secondly, it may be a more comfortable environment at your sleep center. Finally, an odd psychological phenomenon is that you go to a sleep center expecting to sleep, and so we often see people fall asleep with zero difficulty.
Of course, sleep centers are also prepared with other options to help you begin sleeping on the slim chance that you are having difficulty. You can easily do research on online forums and you will see that, while people don't always "love" their sleep study, not being able to fall asleep isn't a common issue.
That being said, there are certainly things you can do to prepare for your sleep evaluation and make yourself as comfortable as possible.
How to Prepare for Your Sleep Study
Preparing for sleep studies is extremely straightforward and there's nothing "special" you have to do other than follow a few basic guidelines the day of your sleep study:
- Avoid naps that day
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine
- Try and get some exercise in the earlier part of the day
- Avoid eating directly before your study
- Bring your sleep comforts, such as a pillow, blanket, etc.
As you can see, outside of missing your morning cup of coffee or night-cap before bed, preparing for your sleep study will likely be "business as usual" for you.
Sleep Study Comfort Tips
The best thing you can do to be more comfortable during your sleep study is to simply pretend you are going to spend the night at a spa.
Some general tips to remember, as discussed above, are:
- Where comfortable night time clothing
- Bring any extra comforts, such as a special pillow or blanket
- Engage in your normal pre-bedtime routine
- Take regularly prescribed medications
In other words, you can do most anything that you might normally do at home to be comfortable for sleep.
If you live in Alaska and need a sleep study, or think that a sleep study may help you identify existing sleep conditions, please feel free to contact us to see how to start the process with getting a sleep evaluation: