What is a Sleep Apnea test?
If you have sleep apnea symptoms, your doctor may recommend a sleep apnea test called a polysomnogram (PSG). You can carry this out either at a sleep disorder center or at home. A polysomnogram, also known as a sleep study, is a multi-component test that sends and records particular bodily activity while you sleep electronically. A skilled sleep specialist analyses the recordings to determine if you have sleep apnea or another sort of sleep problem.
What to expect during a sleep study?
Before the test, your doctor will advise you whether you should continue taking your medications or quit. Avoid caffeine and alcohol on the day of the test as they may affect the results. Bring a book or magazine to read, as well as a special pillow if you use one.
If you’re having a sleep study at a sleep center, you’ll be assigned to a private room in the sleep center or hospital for the night. A central monitoring space will be located near the bedroom, where technicians will watch sleeping patients. Let the technicians know when you plan to use the bathroom so they can remove the connections linking you to the monitoring equipment. You will have a private bathroom to yourself.
You’ll be connected to equipment that may appear to be inconvenient. However, the majority of people have no trouble falling asleep. For home testing, similar, more portable equipment is available, particularly for less demanding cases or scenarios.
Equipment used in a sleep study
During a sleep study, the measuring equipment records electrical signals transmitted by surface electrodes placed on your face and scalp. It also records digital data of your brain and muscle activities. Breathing is monitored with chest and belly belts, while oxygen levels are measured with an oximeter probe on your finger.
Some more sleep tests
- EEG (electroencephalogram) to measure and record brain wave activity
- EMG (electromyogram) to record muscle activity such as face twitches, teeth grinding, and leg movements, and to look for REM stage sleep. During REM sleep, intense dreams often happen as the brain has heightened activity.
- EOG (electrooculogram) to record eye movements. These movements are important in determining the different sleep stages, particularly REM stage sleep.
- EKG (electrocardiogram) to record heart rate and rhythm
- Nasal airflow sensor to record airflow
- Snore microphone to record snoring activity
Sleep Study Results
The data will include information about your sleep, such as:
- How long do you spend in each sleep stage
- How often do you wake up
- Whether you stop breathing or have trouble breathing
- Whether you snore
- Body position
- Limb movements
- Unusual brain activity patterns