Clinical Sleep Study

All you need to know about clinical sleep studies

A clinical sleep study is a non-invasive, overnight exam performed in either a sleep clinic facility or hospital room to diagnose sleep disorders. A technician monitors a range of physiological functions during sleep, including brain and muscle activity, breathing effort and airflow, blood oxygen levels, eye movements, body positioning, limb movements, snoring, and heart rate.

The purpose of a clinical sleep study is to record how you typically sleep during the night. However, falling asleep in unfamiliar surroundings isn't always easy. Your clinical sleep study will likely happen in a regular bed rather than a hospital bed to help you adjust. The room may have a television, and you will be allowed to bring in personal items such as a book, snacks, a change of clothing and toiletries.

A clinical sleep study is best suited to frail and physically impaired patients or those with complex sleep issues such as night terrors, narcolepsy, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleepwalking5.  For able bodied patients with non-complex conditions, a home sleep study might be an excellent diagnostic alternative for those patients who suspect they have medium to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Checking-in for a Clinical Sleep Study:

When you arrive at the sleep clinic or hospital, the technician will explain the process and ask you to fill out some paperwork. The technician may also ask questions about your health and check your blood pressure.

Preparing for your Clinical Sleep Study:

Before your study can begin, the technician must attach small electrodes and leads to your body to capture your physiological data, including:

Brain Wave Activity:
Electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes attached to your scalp to measure your brain activity as you progress through each sleep stage.

Eye and Jaw Movement:
Electrooculogram (EOG) electrodes taped to your face near your eyes and chin monitor muscle activity. Eye movements indicate sleep stages, while jaw motion reveals whether you grind your teeth while asleep.

Muscle Movement:
Electromyography (EMG) electrodes are attached to each leg to measure body movement and muscle activity. These sensors can detect the slightest muscle movement from lifting a leg to wiggling your toes.

Cardiac Activity:
Electrocardiogram (ECG) captures heart rate and rhythm activity.

Breathing Patterns:
Flexible belts are positioned around your chest and stomach to measure breathing. A nasal cannula is taped into place to monitor your  breathing activity.

Blood Oxygen Levels:
An oximeter (blood oxygen monitor) is taped to your finger to measure your oxygen levels.

Snoring Levels:
A small microphone may be attached to your neck to record any incidences and volume of snoring3.

Video Recording:
In a clinical sleep study the technician will use video equipment to corroborate your physical movements with information from the sensors.

Once fitted, the technician (who'll be monitoring you from another room) will run some tests to calibrate the diagnostic equipment.

Going to Bed:

You may be concerned that all the attachments will interfere with your sleep, but most people sleep as they usually would. However, the technician may wake you with instructions or request a change in sleep position during your study. Also, it may be necessary for you to call the technician before using the bathroom to detach the diagnostic equipment and reattach when you return.

The Next Morning:

The technician will remove the diagnostic equipment. The sleep clinic or hospital may have a bathroom where you can freshen up before leaving the premises, but this is not always the case.

Your Sleep Data Results:

A sleep scientist analyses your sleep data before being evaluated by a specialist sleep and respiratory physician. The detailed analysis usually takes around 10 business days, after which time your results will be discussed with you during a follow-up appointment.

Clinical Sleep Study Limitations:

Clinical sleep studies are a valuable clinical tool, but they can be inconvenient, intrusive and uncomfortable. Most patients find it impossible to sleep typically with the number of electrodes and leads attached2.

Another common inconvenience of a clinical sleep study is accessibility. You may need to set aside an entire night or take time off work to travel to and spend the night in a sleep clinic or hospital. Or you may not have the option to undergo a clinical sleep study if you live in a remote area. In which case, a home sleep study may be an excellent alternative.

A home sleep study is more comfortable, convenient, less intrusive and affordable than the traditional clinical sleep study. A home sleep study occurs in your home, in your bed, at a time to suit your schedule. Home sleep studies do not require a technician monitoring you while you sleep, maintaining your dignity while saving you money. But it's not for everyone.

Next steps:

To determine which diagnostic option is best for you...

  1. Complete your personal sleep apnea risk profile to learn more about your potential sleep disordered breathing (SDB) condition,
  2. Click the CALL NOW button below to speak with a friendly Care Coordinator for advice and to learn what you should do next. (This is not a sales call). Your Care Coordinator is here to help you decide the best course of action to address your potential condition, cost and obligation-free.

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Good quality sleep is a cornerstone to good health. An untreated sleep disordered breathing condition is causing you harm, so don't delay. Contact us now.

  1. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-studies
  2. sleep.org/home-sleep-study-kits/
  3. hcf.com.au/preparing-for-hospital/sleep-apnoea/having-a-sleep-study
  4. sleep.org/what-happens-during-sleep-study/
  5. breathewest.com.au/home-and-in-hospital-sleep-studies/
  6. mainlinehealth.org/conditions-and-treatments/treatments/sleep-study
  7. integrisok.com/locations/hospital/integris-bass-baptist-health-center/services/sleep-institute/sleep-study

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What patients like you are saying...

Great to deal with, very in depth and good explanations. Happy to help you work it all out!

Jack Wauhop

Great experience - Excellent communication and personal and professional service.

Mike Woodrow

I didn't know I really had sleep apnea and was surprised when the sleep test and report showed how badly my sleep was being affected.

Lorna Fleck

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