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What should I expect at a sleep study?


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I have been having an issue with fatigue for years, and now my husband is telling me sometimes I stop breathing at night (we both snore), so my doc ordered a sleep study. I have an appt for a week from tomorrow.

My appt is at 8pm. I am not sure what to expect. Is it a pain if you have to get up in the night? Do you leave as soon as you wake up in the morning? What do I bring?

I am happy to be having this done. If I have apnea and it can be treated that would be great.

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Well, it's been a few years since I had one done, but I remember getting there around 8:00 or 9:00 pm. I got changed into my pajamas and then they put a whole bunch of electrodes on my head (to read brain waves) and on my legs (to monitor for restless legs). I remember that that took quite some time. Then they took me back to my room and just told me to read or do something that I normally do to relax and get ready for sleep. When I was ready to try to sleep I rang the nurse and she hooked up all the electrodes. Then I tried to sleep which in my case was unsuccessful until around midnight. They woke me in the middle of the night to put a CPAP on me and I had to sleep with it for the second part of the night.

To get up during the night, I had to ring the nurse so that they could unhook me. But I didn't have to get up.

The thing that I didn't like about it was that they woke me at 6:00 or 6:30 to get dressed to go home. I was so sleepy after that test and they explained that when the put the CPAP on me my body was reclaiming sleep because of all the poor sleep I'd been having. So they woke me out of a deep sleep, and also I had only gotten about six hours anyway. The whole next day was ruined for me.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear you are getting a sleep study done, confused. Good luck!

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I've had a number of sleep studies. Bring loose pajamas/nightgowns and you can bring your own pillow if you're picky about that. They usually have light snacks.  When you get there, they usually hook up a lot of wires to your head, limbs and EKG points along with elastic bands around your chest to measure your breathing. They will usually have you try on various types of face masks to see what is most comfortable for the CPAP.  You should also bring your night/morning meds.

Then they let you sit and watch TV until you are ready to go asleep. I brought my laptop. You then call them and you lie in bed and they finish hooking you up.  If they think you have sleep apnea, you will sleep for 2-3 hours to get a baseline. Then they will put the CPAP mask on and you will go back to sleep and they may adjust the air pressure settings to get rid of the apnea.

Each room usually has it's own bathroom with shower, so if you need to go in the middle of the night, you just ask them to unhook you.  They are listening to you, so you don't have to call out too loudly.

When they are hooking things up, they usually ask you when you want to be awoken.  I am a night owl and I don't work, so I always ask for as late as possible. You will want to take a shower because you will have goop in your hair from the wire connections.

They don't say much about the results.  You will go over that with the sleep specialist in a follow up appointment.

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I was worried about having to get up and pee during the night of my sleep study so I kept going to the bathroom to pee like every 15 minutes up until the time I went to bed. I did have to get up to pee once right after I laid down to go to sleep but before I fell asleep and I just signaled the guy who was overseeing the sleep study and who had attached me to the wires. I forget how I signaled him. Maybe I just turned the room light on and said I had to pee.  Can't remember. They watch and monitor everything so it's not hard to get someone's attention. It wasn't a huge hassle as far as I remember but I think I did have to be unhooked from something(s), but it wasn't like they had to remove everything.

They gave me a bottle of OJ in the morning and yes, they woke me up around 5 or 6am, just when I was finally getting into some productive sleep and so I was exhausted (more so than usual) and useless the next day. I showered briefly to remove the goop in my hair. There was a bathroom with shower attached to my room.

I fell asleep easily as always and had a nice, relatively short night of sleep (if only they hadn't had to wake me up so early to leave). But it's not their fault I require excessive amounts of sleep to function properly. There was a comforter on the bed but they said I couldn't actually sleep under it, only under a sheet and light blanket so that they could watch my limb movements while I slept. I was allowed to watch the tv in the room prior to the time I went to sleep but I turned it off before I actually "went to bed."

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Came in pajamas ... but it was around 7 PM so by the time I was hooked up and settled it would be about 8 PM.  Once in the room I was hooked up to electrodes, except I don't remember the leg ones.  They allowed me to eat, watch TV, etc, and if I needed to use the bathroom they just unhooked me from the thing (box?) connected all my electrodes together, so when I needed to pee, all I did was unhook from the box and the electrodes stayed on my head while I used the bathroom.  Also was woken up to put a cpap mask on (there were 2 to choose from). They woke me up early (read: 5AM) because they said they had all the data they needed. 

Got the electrodes off, I washed my hair, then left.

Results were "normal" and I was like there must be something wrong with the machine because I slept like crap.  Woke up all the time, to the point that I didn't feel like I slept at all, other than doze off.  But neuro said I went through all the sleep phases/cycles etc.  And I thought there is no way people sleep like this and feel awake and refreshed after getting up.  So whatever.

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Mine was same general gist except that I was told to arrive later because I had told them that I usually fall asleep later.  they took people at different times that night, so my guess is it was staggered based on reported bed-times.  My room didn't have a tv or anything for me to do prior to sleeping, but that was a good thing because by the time I was hooked up, I was ready to try to fall asleep.  I had the electrodes on my head and legs, some on my chest and arms for an EKG like measurement, and two or three belts across me that measured something I can't remember. 

I could communicate with the test people by speaking...they could hear me through the walls anyway b/c one of hte things that was getting measured was snoring.  I couldn't fall asleep for the life of me and I eventually asked if I could get up to take another ativan.  They asked if I had it and if I used it occasionally for these issues and I said yes, so they helped get it out of my bag and brought it to me w/ water. 

When I got the results back from the neurologist/sleep doctor, she said that my sleep was so out of whack that night that "anyone would be exhausted."  But I didn't have any apneas and I didn't move around at all once I got to sleep.  It was just that I spent so little time actually sleeping.  However, she wondered to what degree it was anxiety about being in the testing lab.  I thought it was a high probability, so she had me wear an "actwatch" for two weeks.  Referred to as the "poor man's sleep study" (insurances usually cover it if they won't cover a sleep study in other words), it measured whether I was asleep or awake for two weeks straight.  I had to chart when I thought I was asleep or awake also (plus if/when I had caffeine). 

The Actwatch showed that my sleep pattern was actually fairly normal when I was in my own home.  She was willing to have me do a second sleep study to confirm if we could push it through my insurance and I thought my anxiety would be lower b/c of being familiar with the procedure, but I didn't think it would be, so we left it at that.  She helped with suggesting some med changes to my pdoc and that was it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

It was pretty much like everyone said. They told me they would only put on the cpap if I have sleep apnea, and she came in with it in the middle of the night. I requested the mask that covers your mouth and nose because I breathe through my mouth.

It leaked once and another time I moved it and the strap came undone. She said I slept better with the cpap and that they got all the info they needed. They woke me up before 6am to go home. I was very tired the next day.

The dr goes over the results and sends a summary to my doc and then my doc will go over the results with me. I don't know when. Then, I can get the device.

At the sleep lab, they said the biggest problem is compliance. I think I will be good about wearing it if it makes a difference. I have been so tired during the day for a long time.

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10 minutes ago, dilemma said:

Yay, confused! I hope that wearing a CPAP will provide you with relief. I think they want to wait until they actually have the results in their hands before they schedule the followup appointment.  Good luck!

I am sure you are right about waiting for the results.

8 minutes ago, dancesintherain said:

I'm glad it mostly went well confused!  Your post is timely to me because I've just agreed to have a second sleep test done (despite not necessarily seeing the point, as I believe the current issues are MI related).  So I appreciate your experience and those of others. 

Hoping you don't have problems with anxiety during the study.

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  • 1 month later...

I got the Cpap. I have moderate sleep apnea. I breathe much better with it on, but I am having trouble getting used to wearing it. I have only had it a few days. I keep taking it off during the night. It is a full face mask because I breathe through my mouth and the nasal ones, you have to keep your mouth closed. I go for a follow up visit with the sleep doctor (the first time I will meet him) and bring the SD card so they can get the readings. They want to check how it is working but also make sure I am wearing it

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8 hours ago, confused said:

I got the Cpap. I have moderate sleep apnea. I breathe much better with it on, but I am having trouble getting used to wearing it. I have only had it a few days. I keep taking it off during the night. It is a full face mask because I breathe through my mouth and the nasal ones, you have to keep your mouth closed. I go for a follow up visit with the sleep doctor (the first time I will meet him) and bring the SD card so they can get the readings. They want to check how it is working but also make sure I am wearing it

Thanks for the update!  I'm sorry you have the moderate sleep apnea, but am glad the cpap helps.  I think it might take a little time to get used to it, wearing it when you sleep.  I hope it continues to be helpful for you!  Good luck at the follow-up visit with the sleep doctor.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am having trouble adjusting to the device. I sometimes get leaks - I am still getting used to wearing it.  I still wake up several times in the night. It is hard for me to sit still, so I take it off and am having trouble remembering to put it back on. I have been wearing it about 4 hours/night. 

I have an app that calculates how long i had it on, leaks, apnea episodes etc. I still have periods of apnea but it is down from over 20 times/hr to about 6 which is normal.

If I don't wear it consistently, I can't keep the machine. (I am renting it right now)

When they showed it to me, I was told the best way to get used to it is to wear it. There are videos and I have a number to call if I really have problems

 

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It's meant to be worn all night, but if you feel somewhat more rested in the morning after wearing it just 4 hours it's better than nothing.

I once had to wear one, and it had a "ramp up" period where it started out at a low pressure and then increased to my normal pressure.  If I woke in the middle of the night, I had to turn it off and have the ramp up feature go again.  I did have many times where I just couldn't fall asleep with it on and took it off.

It turns out I didn't have sleep apnea, so I didn't need it and it didn't help with my daytime sleepiness.

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1 hour ago, melissaw72 said:

Is wearing it 4 hours/night long enough to get a benefit from it?  I've never needed to use one, but was under the assumption that it was for a full night's sleep (which varies, but about 6-7-8 hours).

I am sure it is some benefit, but i should be wearing it longer, closer to 7 hours.

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