Testing for Sleep Disorders

A man receives a polysomnogramSometimes problems with sleep become so serious that your doctor may recommend an evaluation at the hospital of your sleep patterns. This is called a polysomnogram.

What is a polysomnogram?

A polysomnogram is a procedure that measures bodily functions during sleep. Each study will vary depending on the individual case, and some of the measurements taken may include:

  • Brain waves (electrodes placed on the scalp)
  • Heart beats (electrodes placed on the chest)
  • Eye movements (electrodes placed above and below the eyes)
  • Muscle tension (electrodes placed on the chin)
  • Leg movements (electrodes placed on the lower leg)
  • Airflow breathing (sensor placed underneath the nose)
  • Chest and abdominal breathing (sensors placed around the chest and abdomen outside your pajamas)
  • Blood oxygen levels (a small sensor attached/taped to your finger)

Why record all these things?

During sleep, the body functions are different than while awake. Disrupted sleep can disturb daytime activities, and sometimes medical problems during sleep involve a risk to basic health.

How can I sleep with all these things on me?

Surprisingly, most people sleep reasonably well. We are only trying to obtain a sample of your sleep. The body sensors are applied so that you can turn and move during sleep. None of the electrodes break the skin. The entire procedure is painless. Our staff will make your sleeping environment as comfortable as possible.

Will the sensors hurt?

No. Sometimes, in rubbing the skin or putting on the electrodes, there are mild, temporary skin irritations. You may also feel a sensation of warmth where the oxygen measuring device contacts your skin on your finger; however, these do not generally cause any significant discomfort.

Will I be given a drug to help me sleep?

No. In fact, if possible, we prefer that you do not take sleeping medications for at least eight days before coming for the sleep study. It is also important not to consume any alcohol or caffeinated beverages on the day of the testing. IMPORTANT: Please do not stop any of your medication without first consulting your personal physician.

MSLTWhat is a Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)?

Some patients also participate in daytime MSLT testing. This test consists of a series of 20-35 minute naps. The same kind of information is measured as for a polysomnogram, and the naps are given every two hours throughout the day. In most cases, the MSLT is completed by 6 p.m.

What should I bring?

  • Your own pillow (most people sleep better with a familiar pillow)
  • Bed clothes (preferably two-piece pajamas)
  • Something to read or work on while awake during the non-sleep periods
  • A change of clothes for the next day
  • Any necessary medications (none will be supplied by our staff)
  • We provide towels and bedding, and there is a private bathroom with a shower in your bedroom

Is this test covered by insurance?

For most patients, sleep studies are covered under major medical insurance plans. The percentage of coverage depends upon your specific plan. The best place to find out about details of coverage is your insurance company.

What happens to the results of the polysomnogram?

Your sleep study will be interpreted by the Medical Director of the Sleep Disorders Centers, and the results will be sent to your referring physician within 7-10 days.

Where do I go the night of my sleep study?

The Sleep Disorders Center staff will contact you prior to your study to confirm the date, time and location of your appointment and to see if you have any additional questions or concerns that may need to be answered.