Doctors can diagnose many diseases and illnesses with simple examinations and blood tests, but some require a little more work on your part. If your doctor thinks you could have sleep apnea, you may have already been informed that you'll need to spend a night in a sleep lab. If you're wondering what a sleep lab does and how it works, keep reading, as this guide will explain what you can expect when you go to a sleep lab.
Sleep labs are designed solely to monitor your body and brain waves while you're asleep. This is a non-invasive process that won't cause you any pain, and while the process may initially require an adjustment, you should be able to sleep readily while you're there.
Your lab technician will perform a basic examination and then will get to work setting up your monitors. You'll be hooked up to electrodes that will be attached to your skin on various parts of your body, but particularly your head. You will also have your blood pressure and pulse monitored, just as you do at a hospital or doctor's office.
These instruments will send information to the laboratory technicians while you sleep. They will monitor your heart rate, oxygen saturation level, blood pressure, and brain waves to determine if you're having difficulty breathing in your sleep and when the problem hits during your sleep cycle.
Get Some Rest
The good news is, once you're hooked up, all you have to do is sleep. You'll be taken to a room with a nice bed and dim lighting that you can adjust as you see fit. It might take you a little longer to sleep since you'll be in a place you haven't been before. Your technicians will expect this, so you don't need to worry that you're taking too long to rest. Just let yourself drift as your body and mind see fit.
Unless you have a severe breathing problem during the night, your technicians will let you sleep until morning. At that time, you'll be woken up, and all of your monitoring equipment will be removed.
Your results will be sent to your doctor's office, who will call you back in to discuss them. If you show signs of having sleep apnea, your doctor will arrange treatment for you, which may range from simply losing weight to using a CPAP machine to keep your airway open at night.
Sleep lab stays may initially sound nerve-wracking, but they're not much different from spending a night at a hotel. Make sure to ask your doctor about any additional questions you have to help calm your anxiety before you go to the lab.
For more information on sleep clinics or sleep apnea procedures, contact an ENT specialist near you.