A wide range of tests are used during sleep studies, but here are a few of the most common sleep tests that you can expect.
- Polysomnogram (PSG) is the most common test used to diagnose sleep disorders. A PSG is often recommended for patients who are suspected of having sleep apnea, narcolepsy, REM sleep behavior disorder, periodic limb movement disorder, unusual behaviors during sleep, and unexplained chronic insomnia. During a PSG you will have wired, sticky patches containing sensors called electrodes that are placed on your scalp, face, chest, limbs, and a finger; these sensors will record a patient’s brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing, as well as eye and leg movements while sleeping and will allow your doctor to give a diagnosis. A PSG can also be used to help adjust or create treatment plans for patients that have already been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.
- Multiple Sleep Latency Tests (MSLT) show different stages of sleep and how long it takes you to fall asleep, you will be asked to relax and try to fall asleep in a dark, quiet room every two hours throughout the day. MSLT’s are usually performed the morning after a PSG and involves sensors placed on your scalp, face, and chin. These sensors will record brain activity and eye movements to help diagnose sleep disorders like narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomina, and other sleep disorders that cause daytime tiredness.
- Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) is typically performed the day after a PSG and takes most of the day. Like the previous sleep studies, the MWT uses sensors to measure when you’re awake and asleep. You will be asked to sit quietly and comfortably in a chair and look straight ahead, then all you have to do is try to stay awake for 40 minutes, then you will get a 2 hour break in between each MWT.
- Home-Based Portable Monitor Test will require you to go to a sleep center where they will show you how to set up and use the equipment that you will be taking home, or in some cases you can have a technician come to your house to help prepare for the sleep study. You will take the equipment back to the sleep center when you finish and then should have the test results back from your doctor within a week or two.
- Actigraphy is a small device that is typically worn like a wristwatch so you can go about your day normally; just make sure to remove it before swimming or bathing. The actigraphy measures your sleep/wake behavior over a 3-14 day period. Results from the actigraphy will give your doctor a better idea of your sleep habits, including daytime naps, bedtimes, hours of sleep, and even if the lights are on while you’re asleep.
“Polysomnography (sleep Study).” Why It’s Done. Mayo Clinic, 6 Dec. 2011. Web. 5 Nov. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/polysomnography/basics/why-its-done/prc-20013229>.
“UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.” Preparing for a Sleep Study. UCLA.edu. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://sleepcenter.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=59>.
“What To Expect During a Sleep Study.” - NHLBI, NIH. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institue. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/slpst/during.html>.