Diagnosing your Sleep Disorder

If you’re finding it hard to stay awake at work, it may be because you’ve been up watching the latest March Madness stats on ESPN. Or, it might be something worse. Unless you’re an avid basketball fan, your droopy eyes and excessive yawns (along with snoring, morning headaches, dry mouth, restless leg movement and a list of other symptoms) could be the cause of a sleep disorder. Rachel Kepford, RPSGT for OCH’s Sleep Lab, elaborates on the process for evaluating your symptoms and the types of tests taken to determine your sleep health.

If a patients’ complaints include such things as excessive daytime sleepiness, lack of energy, persistent snoring, morning headaches, morning dry mouth, restless leg movements in sleep, witnessed apnea, weight gain (especially on the upper body), etc., your primary care provider may begin to suspect a sleep disorder.  Or the provider may take note of a patient’s intractable high blood pressure (despite treatment with medication), a past stroke or heart attack, or a history of diabetes.  A combination of these varied symptoms may alert the provider to investigate further, and thus the provider may refer the patient to a Sleep Specialist.  The Sleep Specialist will then meet with the patient to conduct a more in-depth and sleep-specific consultation, to determine if a sleep study is warranted.   

Sleep study patient room at Ozarks Community Hospital.

Here at the Ozarks Community Hospital Sleep Lab, we perform a variety of sleep studies that may either be performed during the night or during the day, depending on the patient’s sleep schedule.  These include:

  • Diagnostic Polysomnogram (Dx PSG)

A Diagnostic Polysomnogram is the test to initially determine if a patient has a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea. 

  • Titration Polysomnogram with CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)

If the patient already has a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, the doctor will likely order a Titration Polysomnogram with Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) treatment (below). 

  • Titration with Bi-level (PAP treatment with alternating pressure levels)

PAP treatment involves wearing a small lightweight mask that delivers air pressure to keep your airway open during sleep.  The type of PAP treatment and the level of pressure used during the test will depend on the observed physiological data that is recorded, and also both the physical and subjective response of the patient to treatment. 

  • Bi-level with Auto Servo-Ventilation

This test is used for more complex cases of apnea.

  • Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)

An MSLT is used to empirically assess the level of the patient’s daytime sleepiness. 

  • Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT).

An MWT is used to empirically assess a patient’s ability to stay awake.  This test is commonly ordered on behalf of the patient’s employer, especially in the trucking industry, for people who operate heavy machinery such as forklifts or bulldozers, and for pilots. 

Patient undergoing a sleep study test.

For each of these tests, multiple small electrodes are attached to the patient’s skin surface with a conductive paste.  No needles are used, no blood is drawn, the patient is not exposed to any radiation, and the test is painless.  The Sleep Lab at OCH has four comfortable bedrooms which resemble hotel rooms.  Each room is private, with an attached bathroom, and each room has cable tv and a fan.  We try to make you as comfortable as possible, while still preserving the integrity of the test.

Rachel is a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT) for Ozarks Community Hospital’s Sleep Lab. For more information about this post or OCH Sleep Lab services, please visit http://ochonline.com/patients-and-visitors/services/sleep-laboratory/ or call 417-875-4640 to schedule an appointment.

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