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Rest Assured - Sleep studies at Sturdy Memorial are nothing to fear

Many patients feel anxious when their physician recommends a sleep study. Questions about the process are natural. Even though sleep disorders like Sleep Apnea are quite common, public discussion about their symptoms, diagnosis and treatment is only beginning. If your doctor has recommended a sleep study, there is no need to be nervous. The best diagnostic equipment in the region is available in a comfortable, private atmosphere right at Sturdy Memorial Hospital's Sleep Lab. To help put patients at ease, the Sleep Lab staff has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and answers:

What is a Sleep Study?

Approximately 1/3 of each person's life is spent sleeping. Sleep studies offer a snapshot of a large portion of a patient's life. As a result, sleep studies are a highly effective tool that helps to diagnose or rule out many conditions at once.

Sturdy Memorial offers a 20-channel polysomnographic sleep study. During a sleep study, sensors are used to monitor and record the patient's breathing, heart rate, brain waves and other indicators while sleeping. Technicians use this data to analyze a patient's sleeping pattern and identify problem areas. Physicians later use the information gathered from the study to determine if problems exist, direct and adjust treatment.

Why Me?

If your physician has ordered a sleep study, they are concerned that symptoms you are experiencing might be the result of a sleep disorder. If your test reveals that you do in fact have a sleep disorder, do not be alarmed. The good news is that sleep disorders are quite common and very treatable. If you do not test positive for sleep disorders, the test was not a waste of time. Ruling out a sleep disorder will enable your physician to focus on the other aspects of your health that could be causing your symptoms.

Will I be able to sleep?

Many patients have doubts about their ability to sleep during a sleep study. If they have difficulty sleeping at home, they reason, will they be able to sleep in an unfamiliar environment? The answer is "yes". Patients who do not experience regular restorative sleep may feel as though they "do not sleep" at all. In fact, in most cases there is measurable sleep activity that can be monitored. Patients, even those with serious sleep issues, are typically able to sleep long enough to produce helpful study data.

After four years of performing sleep studies seven nights a week, we can safely say it is very rare to have a sleep study that doesn't produce helpful data, says Sturdy Memorial's Lead Sleep Technician.

If the polysomnograph monitors my brain waves, can it also tell what I'm dreaming?

No. The polysomnograph is designed to monitor brain waves in order to determine patients' progress through the levels of sleep. This helps technicians map sleeping patterns and identify problem areas. The polysomnograph and other sleep study equipment cannot determine thoughts or feelings - they simply analyze the stages of sleep to reveal trouble spots.

Will I be able to get up to use the bathroom during my sleep study?

Absolutely. All sensors can be disconnected in approximately 10 seconds, and Sleep Technicians are standing by at all times during the night for assistance.

Will I be videotaped?

Sleep Technicians use a video monitor in the control center to observe sleep positions. Later, that information can be compared to other results to determine if a patient's sleeping position affects sleep quality. Video monitoring allows Sleep Technicians to record the most comprehensive data. Patients sleep studies are not recorded on tape or DVD, and concerns about video-monitoring can be discussed with Sleep Lab staff prior to a sleep study.

Will there pins or needles?

No. Needles and pins are not part of the sleep study. Tape and wire are used to connect the small sensors that transmit information about your sleep cycle.

What will the room be like?

Sturdy Memorial's Sleep Lab features private spacious, comfortable patient rooms with private bathrooms, luxurious memory foam beds, and flat-screen televisions. To view pictures of the rooms, click here.

Can I bring someone with me?

We want patients to be completely comfortable before, during, and after their sleep studies. Patients may bring someone else along to help them get settled. Patients are encouraged to spend the night of their sleep study alone to reduce distractions and ensure the best possible results. However, in situations where a caregiver or aide is needed, recliners are available in each room.

Do I have to alter my routine the day of my sleep study?

While Sleep Lab staff always recommends proper sleep hygiene, patient comfort is paramount. On the day of a sleep study, staff will help accommodate patients' schedules and routines. Patients are encouraged to follow their normal schedule, participate in their normal daily activities and continue to take their normal medications. However, Sleep Lab staff does suggest that patients refrain from napping on the day of their sleep study.

When will I learn the results of my sleep study?

Sleep studies produce a large amount of data that is reviewed by technicians and physicians. Results are typically available within two weeks of the sleep study. If a sleep disorder is diagnosed, Sleep Lab staff will contact a patient's ordering physician to discuss preliminary results and begin treatment as soon as possible in cases with significant findings.