Sleep FAQ’s

About my Sleep Study

Can I bring my favorite pillow?

Yes, if it will make you feel more comfortable.

I work nights and sleep during the day. Can I have the test during the day?

Yes, we provide daytime testing as well. Let us know you are a shift worker when you make the appointment.

Why do I need a sleep study?

A sleep study is commonly performed to investigate the following symptoms: – Unrefreshing sleep – Daytime sleepiness – Breath-holding episodes during sleep – Loud snoring (to look for evidence of sleep apnea) – Leg twitching / restless legs at night – Abnormal behaviors at night (violent and non-violent behaviors in sleep) – During sleep there are important changes in the brain and body, and disrupted or poor quality sleep can have an effect on mood, performance and our ability to function during the day.

What is a sleep study (Polysomnogram)?

Sleep study, or polysomnogram, is a recording that contains several types of measurements that are used to identify different sleep stages, monitor breathing, heart rate and body movements and to assist in the diagnosis of various sleep problems. Although sleep is a time of resting, some of the body systems are actually more active during sleep than when awake. Many parts of the brain control and influence the different stages of sleep.

These sleep stages include drowsiness (stage 1 sleep), light sleep (Stage 2), deep sleep (slow wave sleep), and rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep – the sleep stage when most dreaming occurs). We can tell which stage of sleep a person is in by measuring different activities of the brain and body. These activities include brain waves, eye movements, and muscle tone.

For some sleep disorders such as sleep walking or talking, restless limb movements, or teeth grinding, you may also be videotaped during the sleep study for later review of any abnormalities observed during the study. The sleep technologist will let you know if this will be done and will ask for your signed consent.

How are various body activities measured at the sleep lab?

The activities that occur during sleep (brain waves, muscle movements, eye movements, breathing, snoring, heart rate and leg movements) are monitored by applying small metal discs called electrodes to the head and skin. The majority of these electrodes are taped to the skin using hypoallergenic tape and those on the scalp and beards are kept in place using a water-soluble paste. Flexible, stretchy belts are placed around your chest and abdomen in order to monitor your breathing. The level of oxygen in you blood and your heart rate are monitored by a device which clips on to your finger or earlobe. Please inform the sleep technologist on arrival at the sleep laboratory if you have any allergies to certain tape or to latex.

How do you expect me to sleep in such a different environment with all those wires on me?

This is the most frequently asked question by patients prior to their sleep studies. In fact, most patients have no trouble sleeping in the Sleep Laboratory despite wearing the recording equipment. During the test, you will sleep in your own private room. We have attempted to make the surrounding as comfortable as possible.

The rooms are equipped for patients requiring oxygen during the night. If you have a particular pillow or blanket that you find comfortable to sleep with, please feel free to bring it with you for your sleep study. Each patient has his/her own separate bedroom. You may read in bed prior to the study or go to the television room in order to try and maintain your nightly routine. We prefer to have all our patients in bed by 11:00pm, so that we will have at least 6 hours of recording available to analyze.

The electrodes are gathered together in a kind of “ponytail” behind your head so that you will be able to roll over and change position almost as easily as you would at home. The sleep lab staff encourage patients to inform them if something is uncomfortable so that it can be fixed to help you sleep better. During the sleep study you will be able to sleep in any position, turn over in bed, and get up to the bathroom.

You may feel strange at first with the electrodes on your skin, however, most people do not find them an obstacle to falling asleep. The sleep specialist recognizes that you may not sleep in the lab exactly as you do at home, but in most cases this does not cause a problem in obtaining the necessary information from your study

Sleep Problems in Pregnancy

How can I get a good night’s sleep?

If you have cramps in your legs, pressing the feet hard against the wall or standing up on the cramped leg will help ease the discomfort. Lack of calcium can make cramps worse, so it’s important to get enough calcium through milk products, for example. A pounding heartbeat or shortness of breath is due to an increase in the volume of blood in the body.

If you are anaemic, the heart must do more work in order to transport enough oxygen around the body. Ask your doctor or midwife if an iron supplement might help. The best resting position when pregnant is to lie on your side with your knees bent. This makes the heart’s job easier because it stops the weight of the baby applying pressure to your large veins, which carry the blood back to the heart. It is also much better for your lower back to lie on your side. If you have pain in your lower back, experiment with extra pillows to see how you can make yourself more comfortable when lying down. For example, try one pillow under your abdomen, one between your legs, a firm one behind your back and an extra pillow under your head.

Wanting to pass urine at night is common during pregnancy because the growing baby puts constant pressure on the bladder. It is probably unavoidable, but trying not to drink too much late in the evenings might help a little. Avoid drinks containing caffeine such as tea, coffee, fizzy drinks since these stimulate your kidneys to produce more urine and are also mild mental stimulants.

It might also help to lie on your side instead of on your back. If it hurts when you urinate, you might have cystitis, so take a sample of your urine to your doctor or midwife. The bigger your baby becomes, the more difficult it will be for you to turn over in bed. If this is a real problem, you could consider buying a turning sheet. This is a two-ply sheet with two glossy sides, which makes it easier to turn over because they help reduce friction.

Dreams and nightmares can be disturbing and many women suddenly remember much more of their dreams when they are pregnant. Being in a different state such as pregnancy creates a lot of new material for the subconscious. Talking to someone else about your dreams can help you make more sense of them and can make them less frightening.

If you are afraid of the delivery and the pain it may cause, it is advisable to join antenatal classes. Here you will be told what is going to happen to you and which exercises will be helpful during the delivery. It is also an opportunity to ask questions. Talk with your doctor or midwife if you are afraid. Almost all women worry now and then whether their child is normal and fear that something could be wrong. What can I do when I can’t sleep? Remember that sleeping pills are not recommended for pregnant women. If you simply can’t sleep, this is not dangerous provided it does not exhaust you. Many people benefit from relaxation exercises or from listening to music. If you feel tired during the day, see if you can take a little nap. Go to your doctor or midwife and discuss your problem. They can help you find a solution to your problem.

Sleep Problems in Pregnancy

In the last three months of pregnancy women may have difficulty sleeping. They might have problems falling asleep, getting comfortable or be troubled by unpleasant dreams and nightmares. Women who were able to sleep a lot in the early stages of pregnancy may find themselves sleeping very little during the final stage mainly because of the many physical changes taking place. Various physical and mental conditions can disturb sleep.

Leg cramps.
Awareness of their heartbeats and shortness of breath.
Needing to pass urine more often.
A very active baby who seems to be an expert at landing kicks in the mother’s bladder or some other tender spot. Difficulty turning over in bed as the uterus gets bigger. Backache, especially pains in the lower back. More dreams than usual. Nightmares that are easier to remember. Feeling nervous about the forthcoming delivery. Worries about the baby. Worrying about whether it’s normal to be worried. Thes are all common conditions during any pregnancy.

General Questions

I work Shift Work and have noticed some sleep problems

Shift work sleep disorder occurs when your work schedule and your biological clock are out of sync. In our 24-hour society, many workers have to work night shifts, early morning shifts, or rotating shifts. These schedules force you to work when your body is telling you to go to sleep, and sleep when your body is signaling you to wake.

While some people adjust better than others to the demands of shift work, most shift workers get less quality sleep than their daytime counterparts. As a result of sleep deprivation, many shift workers struggle with sleepiness and mental lethargy on the job. This cuts into their productivity and puts them at risk of injury.

There are a numbers of things you can do to reduce the impact of shift work on sleep:

  • Take regular breaks and minimize the frequency of shift changes.
  • When changing shifts, request a shift that’s later, rather than earlier as it’s easier to adjust forward in time, rather than backward.
  • Naturally regulate your sleep-wake cycle by increasing light exposure at work (use bright lights) and limiting light exposure when it’s time to sleep. Avoid TV and computer screens, use blackout shades or heavy curtains to block out daylight in your bedroom.
  • See you doctor to see if you should consider taking melatonin when it’s time for you to sleep.

What Can I do about Jet Lag?

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Jet lag is a temporary disruption in circadian rhythms that occurs when you travel across time zones. Symptoms include daytime sleepiness, fatigue, headache, stomach problems, and insomnia. The symptoms typically appear within a day or two after flying across two or more time zones. The longer the flight, the more pronounced the symptoms. The direction of flight also makes a difference. Flying east tends to cause worse jet lag than flying west.

Resetting your internal clock: How to reduce jetlag

When you travel, it usually takes time for your internal clock to reset itself. In the meantime, you feel tired, get hungry at the wrong hours, and want to go to sleep at inopportune times. However, there are ways to help reset your internal clock when you travel through time zones. If you’ll be traveling through several time zones, as when flying coast to coast, you can gradually adjust your sleep time. For example, three days before you plan to travel from the West Coast to the East Coast, go to bed half an hour earlier than usual, and get up half an hour earlier the next morning. The next night, go to bed an hour earlier than usual and get up an hour earlier. The day before you travel, make it 90 minutes. By the fourth day—the day of your trip—you’ll find it easier to adjust to your new time zone.

More tips to help you adjust:

  • Switch as rapidly as possible upon arrival. On a long trip, don’t turn in until it’s bedtime in the new time zone. For the first day or two, spend as much time outdoors as possible to let daylight reset your internal clock.
  • Use the sun. If you need to wake up earlier in the new setting (flying west to east), get out in the early morning sun. If you need to wake up later (flying east to west), expose yourself to late afternoon sunlight.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, but not caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol promote dehydration, which worsens the physical symptoms of jet lag. They can also disturb sleep.
  • Don’t time-shift. On a brief trip just one or two time zones away, it may be possible to wake up, eat, and sleep on home time. If so, schedule appointments for times when you would be alert at home.

What is CPAP?

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Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. In many cases, you’ll experience immediate symptom relief and a huge boost in your mental and physical energy. The CPAP device is a mask-like machine that provides a constant stream of air that keeps your breathing passages open while you sleep. Most CPAP devices are the size of a tissue box.

If you’ve given up on sleep apnea machines in the past because of discomfort, you owe it to yourself to give them a second look. CPAP technology is constantly being updated and improved, and the new CPAP devices are lighter, quieter, and more comfortable.

A CPAP machine prevents sleep apnea by blowing air into a mask that covers the nose and mouth. The stream of air keeps the airways open.

I heard you can get a Dental Device for Sleep Apnea

If you’ve tried CPAP and self-help tips and your sleep apnea persists, you may benefit from a dental device or surgical treatment.

Most dental devices are acrylic and fit inside your mouth, much like an athletic mouth guard. Others fit around your head and chin to adjust the position of your lower jaw. Two common oral devices are the mandibular repositioning device and the tongue retaining device. These devices open your airway by bringing your lower jaw or your tongue forward during sleep.

Dental devices are only effective for mild-to-moderate sleep apnea. There are also a number of troubling side effects from using this type of treatment, including soreness, saliva build-up, nausea, and damage or permanent change in position of the jaw, teeth, and mouth.

It is very important to get fitted by a dentist specializing in sleep apnea, and to see the dentist on a regular basis for any dental problems that may occur. You may also need to periodically have your dentist adjust the mouthpiece to fit better.

Surgery for Sleep Apnea?

If you have exhausted other apnea treatment options, you may want to discuss surgical options with your doctor or sleep specialist. Surgery can increase the size of your airway, thus reducing your episodes of sleep apnea.

The surgeon may remove tonsils, adenoids, or excess tissue at the back of the throat or inside the nose. Or the surgeon may reconstruct the jaw to enlarge the upper airway. Surgery carries risks of complications and infections, and in some rare cases, symptoms can become worse after surgery.