Sleep studies

What are sleep studies?

A sleep study, otherwise known as polysomnography, encompasses a range of tests done to monitor sleeping patterns and the activity of the brain and body during sleep, including brain waves, the blood's oxygen level, heart rate and breathing. Sleep studies are useful for diagnosing various sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnoea, periodic limb movement disorder, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome and insomnia. In addition, sleepwalking and REM sleep behaviour disorder can be confirmed by such sleep studies.

Why should I have my sleep evaluated?

The sleep study or polysomnography monitors your sleep stages and cycles to identify if or when your sleep patterns are disrupted, as well as what might be causing the disruption. Chronic sleep deprivation can affect everything from blood pressure and diabetes to moodiness and depression. Since sleep is such a vital part of our health, it is essential to ensure you are getting enough sleep and quality sleep. Dr Mothilal may advise you to have a sleep study done if you struggle to fall asleep, have problems with snoring, struggle with tiredness when waking in the morning or have persistent fatigue.

How is a sleep study done?

A sleep study is usually done at a sleep lab, an overnight facility set up for overnight stays. This room is made to be comfortable and dark for sleeping so that your brain and sleep cycles can be monitored through the night. The cycles of REM and nonREM will be monitored as well as eye movements, oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing rate, snoring and body movements.

What can I expect during a sleep study?

You will be scheduled to stay at the sleep lab for a night for observation. The room will be made comfortable for sleep, and you will be able to bring along anything sleep-related that you may need. Once ready to sleep, special sensors will be placed on your head and body. While many may worry that they will not be able to sleep in these conditions, a full night's sleep is not necessary, and only a few hours should provide enough information to make a diagnosis.

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Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital

Suite 1613, 16th floor, Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, Cnr DF Malan Street and Rua Bartholemeu Dias Plain, Foreshore, Cape Town, 8001