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Sleep research

Also known as polysomnography

Sleep tests are painless, non-invasive tests that measure how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep problems.

The more common sleep studies monitor and record data about your body during a full night's sleep. Other types of sleep studies include multiple sleep latency and maintenance of daytime vigilance tests. Multiple sleep latency tests measure how quickly you fall asleep during a series of daytime naps and use sensors to record your brain activity and eye movements. A daily maintenance of vigilance test measures your ability to stay awake and alert.

Sleep studies can help your doctor diagnose sleep-related breathing disorders such as sleep apnea, sleep-related seizure disorders, sleep-related movement disorders, and sleep disorders that cause extreme daytime fatigue, such as narcolepsy. Doctors can also use sleep studies to diagnose or rule out restless legs syndrome.

Your doctor will determine if you should have your sleep study at a sleep center or if you can do it at home with a portable diagnostic device. If your sleep study is done in a sleep center, you will sleep in a bed in the sleep center for the duration of the study. Removable sensors are placed on your scalp, face, eyelids, chest, limbs and a finger. These sensors record your brain waves, heart rate, breathing effort and speed, oxygen levels and muscle movements before, during and after sleep. There is a small chance of irritation to the sensors, but it will disappear after removal.

Your doctor will review the test results of your sleep study and develop a treatment plan for each diagnosed sleep disorder. Untreated sleep disorders can increase your risk of heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and depression. Sleep disturbances have also been linked to an increased risk of injury and car accidents.

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