Sleep research allows physicians to determine why people have trouble sleeping or staying awake so they can receive the appropriate treatment. The study of sleep can help prevent injuries and accidents related to drowsiness, as well as reduce risks for more serious conditions like high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
What is a Sleep Study?
A sleep study is sleep research that takes place at a sleep study center or at a patient’s home. Sleep studies measure the amount and quality of sleep to help doctors diagnose and treat sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, sleep-related seizure disorders and narcolepsy. Several types of sleep studies are available, including:
- Home-based portable monitor
- Maintenance of wakefulness test (MWT)
- Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT)
Some sleep tests, such as the MWT and MSLT, take place at a sleep study center during the day, while a polysomnogram is administered overnight. Actigraphy and the home-based portable monitor are used at home, while patients go about their normal routines.
Should I Participate in a Sleep Study?
You may consider participating in a sleep study if you’re experiencing symptoms of a sleep disorder, such as:
- Insomnia: Inability to either fall or to remain asleep
- Narcolepsy: Excessive fatigue that can lead to sudden sleep attacks at random times
- Restless leg syndrome: Uncontrollable leg movements while in bed
- Sleep apnea: Interrupted breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or more.
If you yawn constantly, have difficulty staying awake, rarely feel refreshed after you awaken, or snore loudly, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Participating in a sleep study may determine if your disorder is attributable to problems with your sleep stages or an underlying condition such as diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s.
Preparing for Sleep Research
If you do need to participate in a sleep study, your doctor may ask you to bring any pertinent information, such as a sleep diary or log. You may also be asked to refrain from using caffeine, tobacco, stimulants and alcohol before your test.
Most sleep tests require that you get a good night’s sleep the night prior to the sleep study for best results. If you aren’t able to do so, you may have to postpone the test.
MetroHealth. (n.d.). Sleep medicine: Preparing for an overnight sleep study. Retrieved December 20, 2010, from http://www.metrohealth.org/body.cfm?id=1851
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (n.d.). What are sleep studies? Retrieved December 12, 2010, from