Sleep is essential for life. Sleep restores the energy levels of the body and prepares you to welcome the
day with full vigor. Unfortunately many people suffer from disordered and abnormal sleep. There are a few sleep disorder tests that are often conducted by doctors in cases where the patient is suffering severe sleep related issues. It aids in the process of better sleep management.
Many types of sleeping disorders have been identified by the medical fraternity, and they can be broadly categorized into:
- Insomnia: Inability to get good quality sleep due to stress, depression and host of other health reasons
- Sleep apnea: In sleep apnea breathing is temporarily stopped for ten or more seconds at frequent intervals. This condition may be caused by blocked airflow, narrowed airways or other breathing difficulties
- Narcolepsy: It is a neurological disorder that is characterized by uncontrollable and
excessive sleepiness .People with narcolepsy may also fall asleep instantly without prior indication.
- REM sleep disorders: REM (rapid eye movement) is an important stage of sleep and body
muscles are temporarily paralyzed during this stage. . Patients with REM disorders may enact their dreams.
- Sleep walking, night terrors, bed wetting.
- Shift work sleep disorder: People involved in day/night shift jobs are prone to
this kind of disorder
- Restless leg syndrome: Persons tend to move the legs repeatedly to overcome the itchy
sensation thus causing poor quality sleep.
Sleep disorder testing
Sleep disorders may creep into other areas of health if left undiagnosed and untreated. As there are various
types of sleep disorders, medical professionals take the help of sleep disorder tests to identify the type and intensity of the disorder. These tests analyze the sleep patterns, identify the underlying causes and help the doctor in determining the appropriate treatment and medication.
Types of sleep disorder tests:
Some of the common sleep disorder tests include:
- Overnight oximetry
- CPAP titration test
- Multiple sleep latency test
- MWT(maintenance of wakefulness test)
Overnight oximetry: Oximetry test measures the heart rate and the level of oxygen in the blood. This is done by using an oximeter, a photo electric device that is placed on the finger or on the earlobe. Oximeter with the help of a sensor records heart rate and the level of oxygen. Any dip in the
oxygen level or rise in the heart rate may mean there is a pause in the breathing thus indicating the presence of sleep disorder.
Polysomnogram: It is a widely used test that records bio-physiological activities of the patient while he is asleep. The activities may include breathing, muscle movement, oxygen level in the blood, movement of eyes etc. The data thus recorded is utilized to recognize the type of sleep disorder the patient is suffering from.
CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) Titration test: If polysomnogram detects or suspects sleep apnea, patient may be subjected to titration test. Under this test a technical person will adjust air pressure (cpap) through a mask to the level that eliminates or minimizes sleep apnea
Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT): MSLT monitors the severity of the sleepiness during day time. The test records the time taken by the patient to fall asleep (known as sleep latency) and the amount of REM sleep occurring. Test is repeated four to five times in a day, after a gap of few hours in
between the tests. MSLT is recommended to those who are suspected to have narcolepsy.
Maintenance of wakefulness test: MWT analyses the patient's ability to stay awake during day time. MWT like MSLT is conducted four to five times in a day. The results of MWT are used in determining the line of treatment for daytime sleepiness.
Actigraphy: In actigraphy, a small watch-like device called actigraph is tied to the wrist of the patient for one or two days. This device notes down the duration of sleep and wakefulness and gives an understanding about sleep schedule of the patient.
The outcome of these tests provides key information regarding sleep stages, abnormal breathing, level of oxygen in the blood, body movements etc. and aids the doctor in designing a treatment plan