In contrast to just feeling tired, how likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations? (Even if you have not done some of these things recently, try to work out how they would have affected you.) Use the following sleep test scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:
0 = Would never doze
1 = Slight chance of dozing
2 = Moderate chance of dozing
3 = High chance of dozing
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A sleep study, also known as polysomnography or PSG, is considered the gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnea. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, your physician will likely order this study. In fact, a sleep study is required to make the diagnosis of sleep apnea. Furthermore, this test will determine the severity of your problem. This is critical in choosing the proper treatment plan.
The sleep study is a non-invasive and painless test. Monitors are placed on a patient to evaluate and record brainwaves, eye movement, heart rate, oxygen levels, breathing rate and muscle tone while you sleep. All of this information provides a comprehensive evaluation of your sleep. You will be hooked up to equipment that may look uncomfortable. However, most people fall asleep with little difficulty.
Usually, sleep studies are performed in a conveniently located sleep center. These centers are often designed to resemble a hotel room to provide a comfortable sleep environment. Each room is private and you are monitored by a sleep technologist throughout the night. Patients are asked to arrive at the center a few hours before bedtime. This will allow time for the sleep technologist to prepare you for the test. In the morning, you return home and your physician will interpret the data recorded during the night. These "in-lab" studies are the most accurate type of sleep testing and may be required for patients with serious health conditions.
Home sleep studies are also available. Home sleep studies may also be referred to as portable or ambulatory sleep studies. Some patients do not want to sleep in a lab or their insurance may not cover an "in-lab" sleep study. For these patients, a home study may be an alternative option. In addition, it may be easier for a patient to fall asleep in their own bed. If you are scheduled for a home sleep study, you will need to pick up the equipment from the sleep center. While at the center, you will meet with a sleep technologist to learn how to properly place the sensors and start the study. That night, before bed, you will need to secure the sensors to your body. These sensors will record information about your breathing effort, heart rate, oxygen levels and snoring. In the morning, you will return the equipment to the sleep center. Your physician will then analyze the data. Ask your physician which type of sleep test is best for you.