The Overnight Sleep Test: My Experience

I am trying to learn all I can about sleep medicine. As part of my education the staff at St. Mary Mercy Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center suggested that I have a sleep test of my own. What a great idea for me to experience what I suggest many of my patients have done!

Prior to my test, there was a questionnaire to fill out as well as some basic instructions to follow such as maintaining my regular sleep times, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, etc. I arrived at 9:00pm for my study and like most patients who have this test done, I was tired.

The room where I was to spend the night was just like a hotel room. It was very comfortable and quiet with a chair and TV, nothing “clinical” about it. The technologist, Eric did a great job of explaining what was going to happen that night and what he would be monitoring. And there is a lot that is monitored!

Sensors were placed on my head, near my eyes, under my nose, on my chin, on my chest and abdomen, on my legs, and on my fingertip. They would measure my brain waves, eye movements, air flow, teeth grinding, heartbeat and breathing movements, leg movements and oxygen saturation. I was being attached to a polysomnograph machine which was going to record my sleep patterns and bodily responses during sleep. All this information would then be converted by a computer into charts and statistics for the sleep medicine physician to interpret.

Eric then talked to me through the speaker to test the sensors by doing things like holding my breath, and moving my legs and eyes and even making a snoring sound. Then it was time to go to sleep!

Now how am I going to fall asleep with all these sensors and wires, and away from my own bed? Remember, I was tired, just like most of the patients who have sleep disorders. All the wires, tape and gel soon became a part of me and in just 10 minutes time (I was told), I fell asleep. What happened next and what they found out will be in my next blog.