a man with sleep apnea in pajamas pulling back a curtain which is actually the comforter of a bed to reveal a bright light

Sleep Study Expectations

Knowledge can hold worry accountable. Isn’t it true that some things that caused you great anxiety no longer trouble you? Obviously I can’t hear your reply, but since one of my hidden talents is assuming the answers I want, I’ll assume you smiled and nodded yes!

Think about the first time you began a job. Worry, no doubt, had all types of questions you couldn’t answer. What will my co-workers be like? Will I fit in? Is my skill set sufficient for this job? But little by little your anxiety began to dissipate. Why? Because knowledge held your worry accountable.

Let's reduce anxiety about a sleep study

I understand there will always be a little unknown with your job or whatever the scenario is, so naturally, there will always be a little anxiety. Ultimately, I believe the more a person knows, the less anxiety he/she will feel. So how does this fit with sleep?

In my experience as a sleep tech, I’ve met numerous patients who have dealt with anxiety about their scheduled sleep study, so I thought I’d write an article explaining what takes place during a sleep study in the hope it will propel someone who knows they need it to do it! My one disclaimer is each health system is probably a little different, but overall, they're fairly similar!

The in-lab sleep study

In the sleep world, there are 4 different types of tests. A home sleep study (HSS), multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), maintenance of wakefulness test (MWT), and in-lab testing. The one we’re looking at today is an in-lab study.

Pretest

There are few pretest things to do and avoid. Check with your insurance to see if you’re covered and what your out-of-pocket expenses will be. Bring any nighttime medications you’ll need. Avoid naps and caffeine. Wash your hair before coming.

Education

Upon arrival, you’ll be escorted back to your room. At this point, feel free to ask any questions you may have. Don’t be shy! Hopefully, they’ll explain to you what sleep apnea is and the treatment of it. If you struggle with insomnia, ask for helpful tips to fall asleep!

Desensitization

If the sleep lab you go to is like the one I work at, you’ll try a few CPAP masks on for a few minutes. This doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be wearing CPAP in the middle of the night. But it’s helpful to have you fitted properly and your opinion voiced in case you need it in the middle of the night. The reason would be is if you have sleep apnea and meet their (sleep lab) protocol for CPAP.

Hook-up

The sleep tech will have you put on your PJs and will begin the hook-up process; this includes wires on your head (8-9) and your face (5-6). These leads show us what stage of sleep you’re in. Next, you’ll have one on your neck to check for snoring, and 3 EKG leads to check the heart. In order to check for respiratory breathing, you’ll wear 2 belts. One is placed around the stomach and one right below the chest. Finally, 2 leg leads will be placed on each leg to check for leg movements while sleeping. Don’t worry, this hook-up is pain-free.

Morning

Each sleep lab might vary on their wake-up time, but their next duty will be to remove all the wires. The tape could sting a little coming off.

I hope this answers some of your questions about an in-lab sleep study. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

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