Sleep Testing in Adults
What is Adult Sleep Testing?
Adult sleep testing or sleep study, also medically known as polysomnography, is a procedure performed on an adult patient to diagnose and treat sleep disorders, such as breathing disorders, neurological disorders, and movement disorders at night. It is a noninvasive and pain-free procedure that records body functions such as brain wave activity, heart rate and rhythm, eye movement, muscle movement, oxygen levels, and breathing rates while the patient is asleep.
Indications for Adult Sleep Testing
Some of the common indications for adult sleep testing are various sleep disorders, such as:
- Sleep apnea
- Restless legs syndrome
- Periodic limb movement disorder
- REM sleep behavior disorder
Who is a Good Candidate for Adult Sleep Testing?
You are a potential candidate for adult sleep testing if:
- You have problems with daytime sleepiness
- You have problems with snoring
- You have problems with getting to sleep, staying asleep, or waking up at the desired time
- You are tired in the day and cannot function normally due to disturbed sleep at night
- You have the urge to move your legs excessively while asleep
- Your fatigue and sleepiness continue for more than 2 to 3 weeks
Preparation for Adult Sleep Testing
Adult sleep testing is normally conducted overnight in a sleep clinic or sleep lab. You are ideally required to arrive in the evening or at least 2 hours before your bedtime. In general, the following steps need to be followed:
- Bring appropriate sleepwear, such as pajamas with you.
- Bring personal toiletries, such as a comb, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc with you.
- Bring reading materials and entertainment gadgets to keep you company.
- Refrain from food or drinks containing alcohol or caffeine a day before the sleep testing.
- Refrain from taking naps in the afternoon before a sleep study at night.
- Make sure to take a bath or shower before the study.
- Do not apply any moisturizer, gels, lotions, or makeup prior to the study.
Procedure for Adult Sleep Testing
The room where the test is performed is arranged to be comfortable, quiet, and dark in order to facilitate your sleeping. The sleeping area is equipped with a low-light video camera, so the lab tech monitoring you can see and record your movements when the lights are out. In general, the procedure involves:
- The sleep tech will place sensors or electrodes on your head, temple, chin, chest, stomach, and legs before you go to sleep.
- The sensors are secured with a tape or gel to prevent it from getting dislodged during the study. The sensors are connected by wires to a computer.
- A pulse oximetry sensor is also attached to your finger or ear to record the level of oxygen in your blood.
- The sensors transmit electrical signals, produced by muscle and brain activity, to the computer.
- The computer captures all the information, such as eye movement, muscle movement, limb movement, brain waves, heart rate and rhythm, breathing pattern, blood oxygen level, and sleep stages, provided by the various sensors.
- The sleep tech monitors your sleeping pattern throughout the night and the recorded data is tabulated and passed on to your physician for evaluation.
What Happens After Adult Sleep Testing?
Once the sleep testing is completed, all the sensors attached to your body are removed in the morning and you may leave the sleep clinic. Before you leave, your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss the results. The results may take at least 2 weeks to be available. Your doctor will advise the next course of action to be followed based on findings of the results during your follow-up appointment.