A sleep test can diagnose a sleep disorder so it can be properly treated. Various sleep studies that monitor brain activity, eye movements, heart rate and blood pressure can determine the cause of patients’ inability to either sleep or stay awake.
The data gathered from sleep studies can help prevent injuries due to fatigue, as well as reveal unknown chronic illnesses that may be impeding sleep. Depending on specific symptoms, several types of sleep studies are available.
Daytime Sleep Studies
Daytime sleep studies, which take place during normal waking hours, include:
- Maintenance of wakefulness test: This test measures your ability to stay awake when you need to, such as while you’re driving or operating equipment.
- Multiple sleep latency test: This test monitors your brain activity to evaluate how sleepy you are while you’re active. This test records if you fall asleep during the test period, the kinds of sleep you experience and the stages of your sleep.
Overnight Sleep Studies
Overnight sleep studies chart your breathing, heart rate and brain waves while you sleep to help diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Types of night sleep studies include:
- Actigraphy: In this home sleep study, you wear a device similar to a wristwatch to measure movement during both sleep and active hours. An actigraphy can help determine if a sleep disorder is due to a problem with the circadian rhythm, or the “internal clock.”
- Home-based portable monitor: This sleep apnea study is a type of home sleep test. A portable monitor (PM) records information like the amount of oxygen in the blood, the amount of air moving through the nose during breathing, heart rate and chest movements. In addition to determining if you suffer from sleep apnea, this test may also assess the effectiveness of prescribed treatments for the disorder.
- Polysomnogram: This sleep test, which takes place overnight at a sleep study center, records brain activity, eye movements, heart rate and blood pressure. The polysomnogram can be helpful in diagnosing conditions such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy and sleep-related seizures.
Carroll Hospital Center. (n.d.). Types of sleep tests. Retrieved December 20, 2010, from http://www.carrollhospitalcenter.org/content/sleeptests.htm
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Types of sleep studies. Retrieved December 12, 2010, from