What comes into your mind when you think of sleep studies? Possibly some complicated procedure that involves studying your brain, right? On the contrary, sleep studies are non-invasive and painless tests that are run on patients who undergo abnormal sleep-wake patterns like insomnia, narcolepsy and even bed wetting. Additionally, sleep study is generally referred to as polysomnography.
Physiologically, sleep undergoes two main phases namely: REM (random eye movements and NON-REM (non-random eye movements). Disturbances in between the two phases are referred to as sleep disorders. Sleep studies measure how the brain falls into the sleep phases while accompanied by various physiological body patterns. Currently, there are various categories of sleep studies. However, the major four gold tests are: the diagnostic overnight PSG, the diagnostic daytime multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), the maintenance of wakefulness test cost and lastly is the CPAP titration. Sleep studies are also used in diagnosis of other conditions such as hypertension, stroke, depression, and heart diseases. A report released in 2014 by the WHO indicated that one of the major causes of hypertension is sleep apnea; a sleep disorder.
How are sleep tests done?
In order to evaluate how each of these tests is conducted, an insight on each specific test and its reason has to be outlined. From most tests, all sleep studies involve the use of electrodes that measure the body’s intrinsic activity. Electrodes range from forty to forty five depending on the test done. The most important of these, is the EEG measurement (brain activity). Sleep tests are done in can either be done in sleep labs or at home, depending on the severity of the condition. It is also advisable not to carry any medication that affects the sleep wake cycle such as 1st generation antihistamines or antidepressants which induce drowsiness.
On arrival, a registered technologist will direct you on where fill out special forms to record your vital signs when at rest. After this, multiple electrodes bearing small wires will be attached on several of your body parts to record brain activity. This includes the scalp, face, chin and the limbs. The electrodes assist in recording the firing power of each brain lobe, and the stage of sleep one is in. A nasal cannula is placed around the nose to detect any breathing difficulties. Two elastic belts should further be placed around your trunk and chest to measure any breathing difficulties and effort. An oximeter will be placed around your index finger to record your oxygen saturation. A small microphone should also be attached to your throat in order to detect snoring. The technician should ensure everything is steady, and all electrodes are working. After this, you are encouraged to sleep for a specific duration.
For the maintenance of wakefulness test, an exception is seen. Instead of falling asleep, you ought to stay awake. It measures how awake you can be after falling asleep. It is done after the pornographically test in order to complete the wake section of the sleep wake cycle. It is done in patients complaining of excessive daytime sleeping.
Who is involved in a sleep study?
At the moment the primary doctors involved in sleep disorders are two: a sleep specialist or psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are involved in the study of the human conscience while sleep specialists, are physicians who have further studied and specialized in human sleep disorders. As previously stated, various traits are measured such as heart rates. In such a case, specials like cardiologists, neurosurgeons and physician chip in their area of expertise. The role of the specialist is to supervise the tests done, and to conclude the diagnosis of the disorder. Furthermore, they prescribe the medication to prevent the latter. Most of the time interventions such as: medications, oral appliances, airway pressure techniques, therapy and minor surgical procedures such as tonsillectomies are involved.
The sleep clinic staff is the administrative unit that helps you fills out your history. Most doctors require a soap note/ history taken in order to have a prejudiced diagnosis in mind. The sleep clinic staff is supposed to assist in filling forms called patient packets. They contain specific boxes that should be answered. Once filled out, these documents are stored and are retrieved in case of any complications.
Night polysomnographic technologists are the third team that assists in monitoring sleep health. As the name suggests, the monitor once progress during the night. The process begins when they direct you to the bed where you will spend the night. They then further hook up the respective electrodes to the fingers, head, chest, trunk and feet. This is to ensure every part is analyzed. Night polysomnographc technologists work hand in hand with durable medical equipment technicians (DME techs) in operations of these monitoring devices.
Your bed mate: Some studies have recommended sleeping in a lab might not give the required sleep cycle, hence normalizing your environment may provide more realistic results.
How expensive are sleep studies?
Before considering any payments, most insurance companies cover the costs involved. Prior to seeking services, ensure that you get your medical cover prior. Depending on the type of test and where the test is done, costs will vary. A home sleep study is likely to be cheaper than a lab test since the venue has to be prepared, a technician is involved and additional recording machine costs are incurred. For patients with sleep apnea, a home test is recommended since the condition is not complicated and a personal machine can be hired. Tests run between 800$-1200$ inclusive of both the physician and the technician’s fee.
For the lab tests, costs differ by the technician’s fee. However, the doctor’s compensation remains at a constant of 1100$. For the PSG test, an average of 4600$ is needed: The technician’s fee is 3500$. For the CPAP test, a technician’s fee of 4000$ and a doctor’s fee of 1100$ is incurred. For the Multiple sleep latency tests, the technician’s fee is 2500$. For maintenance of wakefulness test, the technician’s cost is 2500$.
What if you don’t have insurance? You can directly pay with cash. However, if this isn’t possible, microfinance agencies can come to your aid. These can be paid latter with interest.