What is involved with a Sleep Physiology Study?

When you are asleep your breathing can become weaker for several reasons, such as:

Some people obstruct their airways and stop air from reaching the lungs whilst asleep. The breathing patterns may become irregular and affect sleep quality, leading to daytime sleepiness. This condition is called 'obstructive sleep apnoea'. However, other people snore without any adverse effects on their health.

Chest problems such as chronic bronchitis, twisted spine or muscle disorders may also weaken the breathing during sleep. If this happens carbon dioxide levels will increase, oxygen levels fall and lung pressure may rise.

What is a sleep study?

The most common kind of sleep study is called a 'screening study'. In this study we make overnight recordings of:

  • Your oxygen levels (by attaching a small clip to your finger)
  • Your breathing (by taping a small sensor between your nose and upper lip)
  • The movements of your chest and abdomen (Velcro straps are used to hold small sensors in place)

The Technician will attach the sensors to you in the evening and you can then go home and sleep whenever you wish. While you are asleep the sensors will send information to a computer about your breathing patterns and oxygen levels.

All studies are completely painless and most people are able to enjoy a normal night's sleep.

Where will I have my sleep study?

Your sleep study will be as an outpatient so you will go home and sleep as normal. You will be shown how to disconnect the unit at the end of the study and asked to return it to the Heart Test clinic the next morning for analysis by the Technician.

What happens next?

The printed recording is analysed and reported upon by a Consultant Sleep Physician. The results are forwarded to your GP who will discuss them at your next appointment.

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