If your doctor believes that you have sleep apnea, he or she will suggest that you participate in an overnight sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram. The polysomnogram is the only accurate way to determine your condition. It charts your brain waves, heart beat, arm and leg movement, and breathing patterns as you sleep.
You will not feel any pain during the polysomnogram. During a sleep study, sensors are placed on your head, face, chest, and legs, which send signals to a computer that records when you are asleep and awake during the night. The wires are long enough to let you move around and turn over in bed. Breathing monitors show the number of times you stop breathing and can detect changes in air flow and disruptions in your blood oxygen level. The leg, eyelid, and chin sensors record both minor twitches and major movements that occur during the night. A clip will also be placed on your finger to note changes in the level of oxygen in your blood. When you are asleep, a low-light videocamera allows a technologist to see you from a nearby room.
A sleep study can also be performed at home. As you can imagine, it is more comfortable to take the sleep study at home and often the results are more quickly determined. At home, you can also do a multiple night study, and avoid night to night variations. Some people sleep well one night and terribly the next, depending on how tired they are and what they ate or drank for dinner.
There are major benefits of home OSA testing units:
■ The newest units provide the same sophistication of data collection that overnight testing provides, including sleep staging and a complete sleep profile.
■ Units are lightweight, portable, and easy to transport.
■ There is a high degree of data integrity and security to ensure accurate test results.
* Wireless and disposable sensors can be easily attached to the body.
■ It costs much less than overnight testing.