Your body needs sleep to regenerate and restore. Sleep disorders can disturb sleep quality and leave your body chronically sleep deprived, even after a full night’s rest. Sleep deprivation causes inflammation, now know to be the primary cause of many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain. You could be suffering the silent effects of chronic sleep deprivation and not even be aware of the damage that is building over time.
Sleep Disorders Affect Your Sleep Quality
A sleep disorder affects your ability to sleep, or sleep well, and can have many causes. While anyone can occasionally have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, sleep disorders often require professional intervention. Even losing a few hours of quality sleep each night can cause significant concerns. Some of the more common sleep disorders include:
- Sleep apnea
- Circadian rhythm disorders
The Common Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
Many people associate the need for a sleep study when the symptoms of a sleep disorder include snoring. While snoring can raise suspicions of a sleep disorder, it is only one of many symptoms. Some of the more common indications of a potential sleep disorder include:
- Loud snoring with pauses in sound and breathing
- Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
- Falling asleep at inappropriate times
- Shortness of breath when waking
- Irregular breathing while asleep
- Frequent emotional outbursts
- Waking with a headache or mouth dryness
- Excessive movement during sleep
- Dependence on caffeinated beverages
Your Sleep Study Explained
A sleep study is a test that typically takes place in a hospital or sleep center. During the test, an EEG records your brain activity and monitors your sleep stages and REM sleep throughout the night. Your eye movements, oxygen levels, heart rate and breathing, will also be observed and recorded.
These tests are completely non-invasive. Electrodes and sensors are placed on your head and other areas of your body. The data from your sleep study will be evaluated, and you will be given a follow-up appointment to review the results and discuss your treatment options.
The Diagnostic Value of Your Sleep Study
Evaluation during sleep is necessary successfully treat many types of sleep disorders. The data recorded during your sleep study provides your sleep specialist with valuable information regarding the quality of your sleep and your sleep cycles. This information will help determine which form of sleep therapy will be the most beneficial. Some of the common sleep disorders that benefit from sleep study results include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea – disruption of breathing caused by obstruction of the airway
- Central sleep apnea – the brain periodically fails to send signals that regulate breathing
- Narcolepsy – sudden onset of sleep
- REM sleep behavior disorder – the body is not inactive during sleep
- Insomnia – the inability to sleep
- Restless leg syndrome – uncomfortable leg sensations during sleep
- Bruxism – sleep disrupted by jaw clenching and tooth grinding
Types of Sleep Studies
There are several types of sleep studies. Your sleep specialist will determine the best type of study to use based on your needs. Some of the types of sleep studies include:
- Adult Polysomnography (PSG) – general monitoring of brain activity, muscle activity, heart rhythm and eye movement
- Pediatric Polysomnography – general monitoring of muscle activity, heart rhythm, eye movement and brain activity in children
- Split Polysomnography – after general monitoring, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is added if conditions warrant
- Titration Polysomnography – to determine CPAP pressure settings with the same monitoring as PSG
- Multiple Sleep Latency Test – a daytime nap study to test for narcolepsy and other forms of hypersomnia
- ApneaLink – to monitor oxygen levels and heart rate during sleep
- Multitude of Wakefulness Test – to check daytime alertness and the ability to stay awake in a dimly lit, quiet room.
Quality sleep is essential to your health and well-being. An unidentified and untreated sleep disorder can increase your risk of many chronic health conditions. Sleep therapy can reduce your risks. If you recognize the symptoms of sleep deprivation in yourself, or someone you share a room with, it is important to bring your sleep concerns to the attention of your healthcare provider.