Polysomnography is the term used to describe the process of formal sleep testing. For many sleep disorders this procedure is essential to establishing the kind of accurate diagnosis needed for selection of the treatment most likely to be successful. For sleep apnea syndrome it is often also used to begin treatment or make certain a therapy has been effective. It is also used to rule out sleep apnea as a cause of excessive daytime sleepiness before an MSLT test for narcolepsy.
Polysomnography is conducted in our specially designed sleep testing and treatment facility. The test consists of the continuous monitoring of a wide range of physiologic features throughout a person’s usual sleep period. Things measured include the stages of sleep itself, breathing, heart rate and rhythm, oxygen levels, and movement patterns. All this information is collected from sensors, which are applied to the skin at various locations. Minimal, if any, discomfort is experienced. The sensors are connected in such a manner as to easily allow movement.
All testing in the laboratory is conducted by registered sleep technologists. They work in the specially designed control room, where all the recording instruments are located. They remain with you throughout the entire testing process.
Timing of Testing
We offer testing conveniently on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
If you are not able to naturally sleep, you will be prescribed a sleep aid to help. The primary goal of most polysomnography is to assess how you breath when you sleep. Therefore, the sleep aid will not interfere with the test result.
How Many Nights?
In the past it was standard practice to obtain two consecutive nights of testing. Though following such a course may be more precise, 95% of the time in our laboratory the same diagnostic conclusions and treatment decisions are made at the end of the first night as would be at the end of a second one. Consequently, we never schedule more than one night for diagnostic purposes. At times a second night is needed to begin certain kinds of treatment or to objectively evaluate the results of therapy. In cases of sleep apnea of especially severe intensity, we also may try to combine a portion of the night dedicated to diagnostic monitoring together with a therapeutic segment involving treatment initiation using continuous positive airway pressure.
What to Bring
You should bring certain items with you to your sleep test. Generally, a robe, slippers, and pajamas along with personal toiletry items are most appropriate. Nightgowns may be worn though are less convenient than pajamas from the standpoint of sensor application and movement. Shampoo and conditioner is provided though you may wish to bring your own. Bringing your own pillow can be especially helpful, as this is often a very individual item. Snacks are appropriate at times as well but this should be discussed with Program staff member scheduling your testing.
As with any testing at Vancouver Sleep Center, we will always have your test pre-authorized with your insurance so you will know how much a test costs before undergoing it.