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Are Sleep Studies a Painful Procedure?

Smiling doctor looking at patient lying in bed

What Are Sleep Studies?

Sleep studies are performed to diagnose persistent sleep disturbances. When issues like insomnia last for a long time, it may indicate a serious, underlying problem. A sleep study gathers the data needed for sleep specialists to determine the root cause.

Who’s a Good Candidate?

Anyone suffering persistent sleep difficulties can benefit from a sleep study. In general, occasional episodes of insomnia lasting no longer than two weeks are considered to be common enough that no sleep study is necessary.

That’s also true of sleep disturbances that arise based on an obvious emotional cause, such as workplace stress or grief. Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep caused by these issues usually goes away once the situation passes or the emotion becomes more manageable.

On the other hand, people who have suffered persistent symptoms that seem to be consistent with a sleep disorder like insomnia or narcolepsy may benefit from a sleep study. Those who might have conditions like sleep apnea are also sometimes encouraged to do a study.

What is the Process of a Traditional Sleep Study?

The sleep study works by recording information about your body and its functions while you are trying to fall asleep, sleeping, and waking up. Specialized equipment is used to gather data from all throughout the body, including readings on brain activity, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Advanced equipment gathers this information. It must be precisely calibrated.

In some cases, your doctor may provide you with a wearable device that will gather the needed data while you sleep normally at home. However, such devices are not always able to collect all the information that might be useful. In these cases, an on-site sleep study is needed.

This kind of sleep study is performed at a sleep lab overnight.

For an on-site sleep study, you will usually talk to your doctor or go in for a briefing 1-2 weeks beforehand. This gives you time to make any necessary diet or medication changes, although these are not always required. You’ll also be able to ask any questions you have.

When the day for the study arrives, you’ll go to the lab at the specified time and usually spend about an hour checking in. Patients may arrive anywhere from 2-3 hours before sleep time to the morning of the study, depending on what types of readings are needed.

Sleep study participants will be shown to a room where they will sleep as normal. There will not be staff in the room at the time; they will only be present to start the equipment, which usually involves attaching a wearable device or electrodes to the skin.

Most studies are deemed successful as long as the participant has slept for a short period of time at some point during the night, usually four hours. You can leave the lab as soon as you wake up in the morning, and will usually receive some immediate feedback.

What to Know Before You Go

Study participants should disclose any known health conditions and any medications prior to the study. In rare cases, it may be necessary to make adjustments to medications in advance of a study. Sleep labs need time to make appropriate accommodations for health or mobility issues.

Benefits from a Sleep Study

The principal benefit of a sleep study is to gain insight into the real cause of a long-term sleep issue. Many sleep problems are easy to misdiagnose and do not respond well to lifestyle changes. An accurate diagnosis is an important step in customized, effective treatment.

To find out more, contact Eos Sleep today.

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