When it comes to undergoing a sleep study to rule out or diagnose OSA, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, it is important to understand what the test will involve, as well as how best to prepare for the procedure. The level of preparation required depends on whether the patient is going to have the test performed at a sleep lab, or at home.
Sleep Lab Procedures
When it comes to visiting a sleep lab for a study, it is important to remember that you will be spending the night. Some facilities will send patients letters, or give them a courtesy call to go over what they should bring, or expect. Most sleep study facilities have rooms that are reminiscent of a hotel, or luxurious hospital suite. Since the goal of the test, or study, is to see how your body acts during sleep, it is important to understand that labs require a great deal of wires and electrodes to be placed on the head, face, chest, and sometimes legs. It can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to apply the monitoring leads.
When patients are put in bed, the leads are often attached to a system that is above or beside the bed, which can limit mobility during the night. To get the best results, it is wise to limit caffeine intake prior to going into the facility and to be prepared to take a shower soon after waking. The electrodes and leads used to perform the monitoring often leave quite sticky messes behind. Some facilities offer on site showers, which means your overnight bag should include full travel toiletries. When it comes to diagnosing OSA it often requires two studies. The first will determine if the patient is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, and the second involves introducing a CPAP device to help control OSA and improve the quality of sleep.
What to Expect At Home
During an in-home sleep study, patients can expect a lot less hassle when it comes to monitoring devices and leads being attached to their person. Typical in home studies require only a few attachments that are strapped comfortably around the chest and used for only a night or two. Depending on the service, the equipment is either shipped or delivered to and from the home, with minimal hassle for the patient. There is no need to travel to unfamiliar settings or to be burdened by cumbersome testing equipment. For patients that potentially have an uncomplicated case of OSA, home testing can clearly confirm it and provide a solid enough foundation to discuss treatment options based on the results. It is important to discuss any potential signs of OSA, such as daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and recurring fatigue, despite sleeping all night, with your doctor, as only an in home, or sleep lab study can truly diagnose it.