Why Someone Might Need More Than One Sleep Study

If you are like me, I think you’ll agree with the next statement: If you do something hard, difficult, or challenging and then have to repeat it, it will cause frustration.

The truth is, sometimes sleep studies need to be repeated. The reasons will vary – I plan to write a few down and expound on them!

Getting a call to come back to the lab

Sometimes there's good reason for this call. Think about this for a few minutes. You’ve just done a sleep study a week prior, wires applied on almost every available body part, a restless night of sleep, and it takes 2 nights to catch back up on your sleep. Then comes a phone call:

“Mr. or Mrs., we need you to come for another sleep study.”

What’s up with that? One sleep study is all you can endure – I get that. But sometimes there are good reasons, and sometimes it’s...you’ve made a mistake before, right?!

Sometimes it’s on me

Sometimes the reality is simply this: It’s on me. I won’t speak for all sleep technologists out there, but I’ve messed up doctor orders. I didn’t get enough pressure to the patient, and so on and so forth as they say!

Sometimes it’s on you

The subheading is tongue and cheek, but sometimes honestly it’s on the patient. I am not suggesting it’s intentional. Sometimes the reality is a person just can’t sleep that night. To diagnose sleep apnea or titrate someone to the right pressure requires the person to sleep.

The fact is sleep apnea isn’t created equal. There are other factors involved (age, weight, hypoxemia) that can cause this. When a person has complex sleep, there’s a decent chance someone will need to come back for another titration study.

We ran out of time

You can relate to this...you ran out of time. I know you’ve told a parent or boss this, but the reality is sometimes truly you don’t have enough time to complete a project you set out to do. A sleep technologist can have the same issues. A patient doesn’t sleep well or the sleep apnea is complex enough, and you can’t finish in one night. Perhaps a tech placed you on CPAP partway through the night and yes, things didn’t go well. Truth be told, it just happens.

Home sleep study scenarios

Scenario #1

I’ve hated making this phone call: “Hello, you know that sleep device you wore at home last night?”

“Yes, what about it?”

“Well, I need to repeat it. The blank wasn’t working correctly.”

That’s the downside to home studies. When you are asleep, there’s a decent chance you’ll knock something off and/or not realize there’s some troubleshooting that needs to be done.

Scenario #2

There’s a second reason someone might need to do a second sleep study after doing a home study. It’s not because there’s something wrong with the home study! For a few people, their sleep apnea is so severe or complex or they have hypoxemia, and the doctor thinks they need more than just an auto-PAP. The patient might need a BiPAP, or potentially oxygen, with their machines. To be clear, the second study in this scenario wouldn’t be at home, but rather in a sleep center.

I hope this brings clarity to why someone might need a second study. Please feel free to add comments or questions below.

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