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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What should I expect from a sleep test?

    I have to have a sleep test. What exactly will happen and can I do the sleep test for sleep apnea in my home?
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    Dr Maree Barnes

    Respiratory & Sleep Medicine Physician

    Dr Barnes has competed specialty training in sleep medicine and is currently working at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne. Dr Barnes’ current research focuses are: ... View Profile

    The sleep test may vary a little from one laboratory to another and in addition, some sleep studies are done at home.
    If you are having a sleep study in a laboratory, you will generally be asked to arrive at around 7pm. You may bring with you your own pillow, a snack and anything else that will help you to sleep better during the night. A sleep scientist or technologist will attach some wires to your scalp, around your eyes and mouth and under your chin. There are also some attached to your chest to monitor your heart and to your legs to monitor leg movements. There are 2 bands that go around your chest and abdomen to monitor your breathing and an oxygen monitor that clips onto one of your fingers. Breathing is also measured with a small tube that is placed just under your nose and 2 little wires that sit in front of your mouth and your  nose.  It sounds like a lot, but the  leads are all very long and you will be able to move around in the bed at night. When you get into bed, the leads are all plugged into  board at the head of your bed.
    If you are having the study at home, you will have many of the same leads attached, but they plug into a small box that you wear on y our belt. You will be shown how to put on the tube that goes under your nose and the wires that are in front of your mouth and nose, so that you can do that at home just before you go to bed.
    During the night, your sleep and breathing will be recorded. If you are in the laboratory and one of the leads falls off, the technologist will come into your room to replace it. If you are at home and a lead falls off, it will not be replaced but this will usually not affect the usefulness of the study.
    If your study is in the laboratory, there is usually an infrared camera in your room, so the technologist can look at you during the night. Sometimes this may be recorded for your doctor to look at after the study.
    There is more information about what is involved in sleep studies available on the website of the Sleep Health Foundation, www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au.

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