Many experiencing sleep problems are initially inclined to go to a sleep lab for help. Setting aside the issue of cost (which may be considerable), there’s one other factor that you need to take into account when seeking better sleep — convenience.
A sleep lab is very much a lab, and when you’re there, they’re gauging a number of physiological parameters during both sleep and wakefulness. The current standard method of sleep disorder diagnosis is what is referred to as an overnight polysomnography, which requires recordings of:
- electrical activity of the brain
- electrical activity of muscles
- eye movements
- respiratory effort and mouth-nose airflow
- electrical activity of the heart
- oxygen saturation of the blood
- limb movements
Gathering this variety of information requires quite a few sensors. If you’ve seen movies where someone is laying in a hospital bed hardwired like a home computer, that’s actually a pretty accurate depiction of what it’s going to be like in a sleep lab.
Sleeping in an “attended setting”
This uncomfortable procedure requires a skilled person to get the patient wired, and the resulting information needs to be recorded, scored, and reviewed by trained personnel. In short, you may be expected to sleep with an audience.
And speaking of unwanted audiences, going to the bathroom can be quite a production. Not only does the technician need to disconnect you from all the equipment, leaving you with dangling cables, but a video camera and microphones capture the whole thing — noises and…movements.
Basing life decisions on a one night stand?
Because of the cost and expertise involved in a polysomnography, the number of nights you’re able to do it tends to be limited. Even home sleep studies are usually a single night recording. Thus, results often don’t reflect your natural sleep pattern (unless, of course, you normally sleep wired with sensors under the observation of scientists).
Deciding when a sleep lab is necessary
These kinds of studies have their place, and they are increasingly used to diagnose sleep-related breathing disorders, and other medical problems. Poor sleep, however, is caused by a host of issues, of which medical disorders are only about 15 percent. Typically a sleep lab does not assess other critical factors such as sleep time and needs, sleep quality over time, frequency of difficulties falling asleep or of night-time waking, sleep wake rhythms and cycles.
The patient friendly, cost-effective alternative
Unfortunately, most people don’t discover the root cause of their sleep problems — but there is now a way to get patient-friendly, accurate, cost effective testing. Sleeprate enables assessment for multiple nights, offering a more comprehensive understanding of sleep schedule and patterns across time periods, evaluation of the inner sleep structure, and detection of abnormalities and disorders. Furthermore, Sleeprate recommends a suitable management strategy to alleviate the detected problems. We accomplish all of this with nothing more than a heart monitor and mobile device — no intrusive wiring, no audience.
You can view a list of blogs relating to sleep, health and lifestyle on SleepRate’s website by clicking here.