I'm tired...a lot. A lot more tired than I should be, and it's bothered me for years. A couple of years ago I had a sleep study because I was looking into bariatric surgery, and it was one of the requirements to see if I have sleep apnea. Since we moved my new doctor wanted me to have another one, and I thought I would share the experience.
A sleep study is exactly what it sounds like. You, sleeping.
I was asked to arrive at the sleep lab around 8:30pm, and bring my own pillows. I was almost immediately led to a room and given 20 pages (no joke) of paperwork to fill out. I was also offered a snack. I can never turn down hospital apple juice and hospital ice (the best) so I happily had some.
My first sleep study took place at an independent lab, but this one was in a hospital. There were marked differences. The first time, the beds were nice and comfortable and looked like the bed you would sleep on at home. This time, they were just hospital beds, and not very comfortable ones. In fact, the bed was uncomfortable enough that it made it hard for me to sleep. Another thing is that you are sleeping with a TON of wires and things hooked up to you so that they can measure everything. Here are the things that are measured:
1. Brain waves (EEG) are recorded by placing
electrodes on the head.
2. Heart rate and rhythm (EKG) are recorded
by placing electrodes on the chest.
3. Eye movement is recorded by placing
electrodes next to the eyes.
4. Muscle activity is recorded by placing
electrodes on the muscles of the chin.
5. Leg movements are recorded by placing
electrodes on the lower part of the legs.
6. Breathing is measured by placing a special
sensor on the upper lip in front of the nose
7. Breathing effort is measured by placing belts
around the chest and abdomen.
8. Oxygen level in the blood is measured by
attaching a probe onto the finger. No needles
9. A camera is located in the room and a video is
recorded of the entire night
(This information came from the brochure I was sent)
Putting all these sensors on took a half an hour. Luckily I was able to watch TV this time. Perhaps because of that fact I didn't realize that they were using so much tape to hold all the wires down. See...I'm apparently allergic to the adhesive and my skin does some bad things as a result. If I had been paying attention I may have been able to prevent the technician from putting half a roll (it felt like) on my cheeks.
The hardest things for me is having two different devises more or less up my nose, and blood oxygen sensor taped to my finger. It didn't feel natural, the sensor was making it difficult to breathe through my nose and I just wanted to go to sleep so that I could get up in the morning and go home.
After they put all the wires on you, they ask you to lay down and they 'calibrate' it all by asking you to move your eyes, cough, tense your legs, and hold your breathe to make sure that the sensors are picking up on your movement. After all this I laid down and tried to fall asleep....and tried, and tried. I finally, about a half hour later called in a tech to ask for another blanket because the room was cold. I like to be really warm to fall asleep and then sweat and throw them off during the night. I finally fell asleep around 11, but was frequently woken up for short periods of time by having to move, and then plagued by dreams of being tied down with a million wires.
Around 2am my technician woke me up by opening the door (the hallway was super bright) to fix the stupid sensor in my nose. I sleep on my side and this apparently made it move. At that point I decided I was awake, so I might as well use the restroom and then attempt to go back to sleep.
Basically another 3.5 hours of crappy sleep later I remember opening my eyes up for a moment and deciding to go back to sleep when the technician said over the intercom that the sleep study was over. He must have been monitoring my brain waves so he could tell when I had woken up, and instead of just waking me up out of a sound sleep, waited until I was almost on the edge of awakedness. It was nice, since I didn't wake up feeling awful and groggy.
Now the unpleasant part--removing all that tape! It wasn't fun, and my face still has marks on it more than 24 hours later. I would suggest if you have any time of sensitive skin that you ask if they can use a less sticky type of tape. Really I don't think this stuff was meant to go on faces, and it annoyed me to no end that I didn't realize what he was doing until it was too late. I really hurt to take off, in fact it was the first thing he tried to take off and I felt like I was going to throw up on him. He tried using alcohol wipes to kill some of the adhesive but it didn't work at all. Having tape ripped off at 5:30am? Not fun. They also use this gunk in your hair to hold the sensor's done, which is a pain in the butt to wash out. It's basically the consistency of really soft wax, but is a gel. I think there were 5 spots where they put that in my hair. If you have long hair, I would suggest asking them to try to take as much of it out when they take the senors off. My technician didn't do this, and I had a pain of a time try to get it out, before I washed it, on my own. This btw is why they ask you to wash your hair the day of the test--so that the sensors won't fall off your scalp.
After being offered a snack, I got dressed, used the restroom and headed home...to get more sleep.