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How Does a Sleep Study Work?

May 26, 2021


How Does a Sleep Study Work?

It’s normal to have trouble sleeping occasionally. However, if you’re consistently waking up throughout the night or having trouble staying asleep, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders are serious medical conditions that can cause a myriad of troubling symptoms.

If your doctor suspects you have a sleep disorder, they might recommend a sleep study. Sleep studies are essential to diagnose sleep disorders and provide adequate treatment. Understanding what to expect and how these studies work can help you prepare for the experience and put you more at ease.

What to Expect During a Sleep Study?

An in-lab sleep study, also known as a polysomnography, is a non-invasive, overnight exam that allows your doctor to monitor you and see what happens in your brain and body as you sleep. Typical conditions that require a sleep study for accurate diagnosis include insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and REM sleep behavior disorder. These disorders cannot be identified during a routine office visit because your doctor needs to gather more conclusive evidence while you’re asleep.

Sleep studies are performed at sleep labs – usually in a hospital or a sleep center. Before the study begins, a technologist will tape painless sensors to your head and body, recording vital information while you sleep. While you sleep, they will monitor you and identify any possible disruptions in your sleep pattern. The result is a detailed picture of your unique sleep patterns, including whether you’re receiving enough oxygen, how much time you spend in light and deep stages of sleep, and how often you awaken throughout the night. (MayoClinic.org)

Sleep Study Inline

Sleep Study Results

Sleep studies produce hundreds of pages of information to give your doctor both a ‘big picture’ about your sleep and lots of essential details. Typically, it takes about two weeks for them to analyze the results. Once your doctor has determined the cause of your sleep issues, they can provide a precise diagnosis and a custom treatment plan.

Many different sleep disorders may be discovered during a sleep study, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Sleepwalking
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
  • Seizure disorders
  • Circadian rhythm disorders
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (ClevelandClinic.org)


Can I Do a Sleep Study at Home?

In short, no – you cannot perform a complete sleep study at home. In-lab sleep studies are comprehensive and highly effective, recording your brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, and eye and leg movements. At-home sleep studies only monitor breathing and are only appropriate when diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. They do not capture the broader range of information necessary to analyze all sleep disorders and are also incapable of diagnosing other medical conditions, such as COPD or congestive heart failure.

How We Can Help

If you think you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, contact us today for a sleep study. You can do this easily by completing the form below. Our certified sleep specialists are committed to providing you with the most accurate diagnosis and the best sleep apnea treatment.

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