sleep study

What Is A Sleep Study And How Can It Help Diagnose Sleep Apnea?

As science progresses, medical professionals are constantly discovering new ways to gain information on the human body; they are able to study different human conditions with a new depth of knowledge and technology. Sleep studies, for example, are becoming more popular as a diagnostic medical tool. Medical science allows professionals to perform tests on subjects while the subject is sleeping to test what the body is undergoing during sleep. These tests are performed to understand sleeping problems, as well as other illnesses that can affect sleep. Sleep studies can also determine what stages of sleep subjects are having problems with.

In addition to Narcolepsy, Insomnia, Restless Leg Syndrome, and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, sleep studies are also used to diagnose different forms of Sleep Apnea (central, obstructive, etc.). There are many different types of sleep studies including the Polysomnogram, the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT), and the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT). The Polysomnogram, specifically, is the test most often used to diagnose apneas.

The Polysomnogram is used to monitor, and record, multiple separate bodily functions during the subject’s sleep. Brain activity, oxygen blood levels, carbon dioxide blood levels, heart rate, heart rhythm, eye movement, rate of breath, and rhythm of breath are all recorded with this test. The test also analyzes the flow of air entering and leaving the body through the mouth and nose by analyzing snoring, chest movement, belly movement, and other muscle movements made by the subject during sleep. By compiling all of these different factors, doctors are able to tell if a patient is suffering from the all-too-common disorder, Sleep Apnea.

Studies like this are usually performed in a lab designated for studying the process of sleep. While some sleep labs operate independently, the majority of them are located within a hospital or medical community. Sleep labs are not located in every hospital, and in many cases, are quite a distance away from people desiring to complete one of the sleep studies. Not all people are comfortable being examined while asleep and vulnerable in a hospital room; thus, some people choose to complete their sleep studies at home. There is portable equipment available for people who prefer to undergo the process in security, comfort, and privacy.

Although completing a sleep study may be an obvious choice in diagnostic procedures, it is also an expensive procedure that is not affordable for everyone. It is important to see your family doctor before committing yourself to a sleep study; there may be other, less expensive, ways to analyze and diagnose your problem.

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