What A Sleep Study Can Reveal About Your Health

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A sleep study may be suggested when you have been to a doctor and it appears that you have a disorder that is affecting your sleep. Some people request to have a sleep study, as they feel unrested or are not sleeping through the night.

However, normally a doctor will want to consider other angles and issues before enrolling someone in a clinical study. Things such as keeping a sleep diary might be requested first, along with a checkup. It is even possible that sleeping on the wrong mattress is causing you to lose sleep, particularly so if you suffer from arthritis or muscular issues. It is always a good idea to check on the type of mattress that better fits your health needs.

Once these initial checks are done, then it could be time for a proper sleep study, which is referred to as polysomnography in the medical field. The sleep study will monitor numerous factors while you sleep.

What is Monitored During a Sleep Study?

Some are concerned about what is monitored during a sleep study, but for most, the in clinical study will normally be a fairly relaxed experience. Here is what the doctor will be looking for:


  • REM (Rapid Eye Movement during sleep)
  • Brainwaves to monitor the stages of sleep
  • Body movement - this can include sleepwalking
  • Heart rate
  • Breathing
  • Blood to check levels, such as oxygen

Do I Need to Prepare for a Sleep Study?

In all honesty, what you may or may not need to prepare for a sleep study, will vary with the clinic or hospital performing the study. However, they should provide you with a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts in order for you to get the best results from your study. Things such as what you should bring, what you should avoid consuming, what you can do at the clinic, etc. will be covered fully. Mostly, it is about avoiding coffee, alcohol, stimulants, depressants and the like. Basically, anything that would impact your results. It may also advise how to prepare yourself (such as no makeup or hairspray, and your overnight bag contents). It is possible that some electronic devices might be banned, or not allowed after a set time, as these often emit a light that interferes with getting to sleep.

What a Sleep Study Could Reveal About Your Health


The entire aim of the sleep study is to improve your sleep. However, it can also uncover health issues that you may not be aware of, permitting treatment and hopefully better health and sleep going forward. Some of the common health issues uncovered are:


  1. Unusual Movements - Such as involuntarily kicking, walking around, or sitting up while asleep. These are normally referred to as Restless Leg Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and can disturb the patient and their partners sleep significantly.
  2. Sleep Apnea (OSA - Obstructive Sleep Apnea) - This is a serious condition, but fortunately it is also normally treatable. People with sleep apnea actually stop breathing temporarily for moments during the night. In most cases, this results in waking and moving, restoring the normal breathing cycle … while disrupting the sleep cycle. However, in some cases, sleep apnea can potentially be fatal.
  3. REM Disorders - Some people don’t just dream in a still state, but when in the REM state, their brain and body reacts like it is a real-life scenario. This can mean patients physically act out their dreams … so, be careful what you dream about! Wink wink.
  4. Insomnia - Technically, this is the observation of someone unable to sleep much at all. People with insomnia often can’t get to sleep, wake up frequently, or fully wake up at extremely inconvenient times like 3 am and are unable to get back to sleep after.
  5. Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding - Called Bruxism, clenching the jaw and grinding teeth can both disturb one's sleep and cause dental issues.

A sleep study is well worthwhile if recommended by your doctor. Just be sure that they do a physical checkup and you monitor and even record your own sleep for a while first, as the problem could be a simple health issue, mattress issues, or evening routine that could be resolved through some changes at home.

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