Sleep Study can be understood as tests that help sleep doctors to figure out the causes behind a person’s inability to sleep well. You’re made to sleep with several testing sensors on your body that help the sleep technician collect data related to your breathing pattern, brain waves, heart beats, and eye and leg movement.
The data is then sent and scored, and then reviewed and interpreted by a sleep physician.
Sleep study tests belong to a category of tests which are collectively known as Polysomnography. Heavy word, right?! Well, Polysomnography has its roots in Greek – ‘poly’ stands for ‘many’, ‘somno’ translates to sleep, and ‘graphy’ means ‘to write’. Polysomnography covers every test that is done under a sleep study – together these tests help the sleep doctor see the ‘big picture’ and think about the best therapy, the best medications for his / her patients.
Sleep Study Types
The common Polysomnography tests include nocturnal polysomnogram (NPSG), split night test, PAP titration test, maintenance of sleep latency test (MSLT), and maintenance of wakefulness test (MWT).
Nocturnal Polysomnogram (NPSG)
NPSG is a sleep test that is conducted to diagnose any existing, but undiagnosed sleep disorder.
The sleep technician will attach multiple sensors to your body to monitor your movements while you sleep. Usually, it’s during the evenings when NPSG is administered – however, if you work in BPOs or in night shifts, the test can be done in the day time. The study is comprehensive and collects all data related to your brain waves, eye movements, leg movements, heart beats, and everything else to precisely define whether you’ve a disorder.
Split night test
Split night test works like NPSG test. You sleep with the same sort of sensors. The technician collects all the same data. However, what differentiates split night test is that you are made to try the PAP mask before you go to sleep – this is done to ensure that the mask fits you really well when needed.
Please note that PAP stands for Positive Airway Pressure – it’s a sleep treatment therapy in which pressurized air is delivered to your upper airway so that you can breathe and sleep well.
The technician is more concerned about respiratory events like apneas in this test. He/she is likely to be more concerned about the number of partial or complete apneas during the first third of the study. And based on the findings of this test, you may be given PAP to help you fight your sleep issues.
Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) & Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT)
MSLT is for you if you experience excessive sleepiness during the daytime. The test is usually performed in the day.
The test is conducted to find out how easily you fall asleep in the daytime. The technician will actively look for the appearance of REM stage sleep. Brain wave recordings also tell a lot about your condition and the causes behind it.
MWT is often recommended for drivers and pilots to determine their ability to maintain their wakefulness in conditions where they can easily fall asleep.
After you’re attached with the sensors, you’re made to spend some time in a dark room. The test evaluates how well you do in low stimulus environment.
In this test, you sleep with a PAP device and mask on your face. The aim of the test is not to diagnose a disorder, but to come up with the most appropriate therapeutic measurement of air pressure for you.
The sleep technician who attends you during the study keeps tweaking the therapeutic levels of pressurized air while you sleep. He / she may also choose to up the humidity and pressure support. At the end of the test, you get a customized setting that makes you best prepared for a good night’s sleep.
So these were the most common sleep studies that you can expect to undergo if your doctor suspects you’ve a sleep disorder. You might be asked for more than one test as well – but it’s your doctor who’s going to decide it all. The great news is most sleep disorders are treatable, so it is important that you consult with a sleep specialist if you’ve not been sleeping well lately.