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Sleep Studies

The best way to find out what's going on with you when you sleep is to spend a night in a sleep clinic.

The procedure is called polysomnography, or undergoing a polysomnogram.   It's totally safe and painless -- although a bit weird, going to sleep in a strange room with dozens of wires and devices stuck to your body.  By the next morning, if all has gone well, the clinic will have at least five hours of data which will tell them everything about the way you sleep, including data on:

airflow at your nose and mouth
oxygen levels
respiratory effort signaled from monitors on the chest wall and abdomen
oxygen levels
leg movements
body position (supine, prone, side)
electrocardiogram (measurement of heart muscle activity)

Obviously, for the SOS snoring type, the most important information is how often you stop and start breathing during the course of the night.  If it turns out you do have moderate or severe sleep apnea, your doctor will recommend various remedies, probably starting with CPAP -- in fact, if your polysomnogram indicates you may need it, the technician may test your sleep with CPAP equipment that very night.   

A list of sleep centers in the U.S. can be found at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine web site. If you find there's a multi-month wait to get into the sleep lab, that would not be uncommon.  Ask your doctor if he could organize in-home testing, which is a growing movement designed to cut both wait-time and costs.



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