I have always wanted to have a sleep study done. I have been an insomniac for as long as I can remember and as I got older I developed restless leg syndrome (RLS), or as Mr.Surly affectionately calls it “jimmy legs.” Neither of this worried me nor warranted a sleep study.
However, after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (2010) a sleep study actually made sense. Was I getting enough REM sleep to combat my daily fatigue? Would increased sleep quality help me have more energy? Very valid questions in my opinion and my neurologist’s.
Going into the study I wasn’t sure what to expect. At The Clinic you are given many choices and options for the location. I chose a hotel and scheduled it the day before a follow up with my GI dr. The Clinic is 4 hours away so I was able to end my sleep study and go to my GI appt without 8 hours of driving in one day. Bonus.
Back to the study. I arrived at the hotel and was directed to the wing of rooms dedicated to The Clinic for sleep studies. I filled out a few questionnaires and the guy gave me an overview of the study. Then, I was taken to my room. It was a normal hotel room with two double beds, all the amenities of a Hilton in the room. The only difference was the medical equipment, camera, & intercom and lack of lock on the room. Before entering the room I was reminded that everything inside the room was being video and audio recorded (except the bathroom).
We sat down and went into what would be involved in the study, the wires and where they would be placed, what a CPAP was and if I stopped breathing they would give me oxygen.
It took an hour for me to get all hooked up. There was this yummy lemon scented scrub used first to prep the skin for the electrode & electric jelly. Then clear tape to keep the electrode in place. All wires were connected to a single box (for ease of bathroom use).
Two belts were put on, one around my waist and the second right under my armpits, to monitor my breathing. At this point I used the bathroom before climbing into bed. And I’m still not done being hooked up with monitoring devices.
Next, comes the CO2 monitoring device. It’s like an oxygen thing like you get when going under anesthesia. The difference being no oxygen is being pumped into you; it measures the CO2 your breath out. There is also a small, curved tube that goes into your mouth. It’s trimmed to lay right outside the mouth. This tube is hooked up to a CO2 monitor to monitor whether you’re breathing out your nose or your mouth.
Finally, a pulse monitor is put on your finger and taped to stay on. This was the only problem I had with the study. Taping that device to my finger hurt for some reason.
Also, I was not allowed to go to the bathroom without alerting the sleep monitor. If I needed to go to the bathroom I had to call the sleep monitor. He would then come in, unhook my CO2 & pulse monitor, hang the my wire box around my neck, then hook me all back up after finishing in the bathroom.
Then, the sleep monitor goes back to his room and talks over the two way intercom, instructing me to do a few exercises to make sure I was hooked up properly. I was then left to fall asleep. Hahaha
I was encouraged to sleep on my back as much as possible. Now, I’m an almost exclusive side sleeper; never been a fan of sleeping flat on my back. After about an hour or so I gave up and moved to my side. I woke up once, with a slight twinge of needing to use the bathroom. But decided I didn’t have to pee bad enough for all the hassle of unhooking & rehooking. I just rolled over and went back to sleep.
The next morning I was up at like 6ish and unhooked. I showered and tried to get the gunk out of my hair. The sleep study guy gave me the tip of letting warm water run thru my hair to as I rubbed out the gunk before attempting to shampoo my hair. (Unfortunately for me I missed one small spot and it took DAYS to get it out. Ugh.)
The sleep study monitor is not allowed to tell you any specifics about the data (only a doctor can do that) but he did let me know they got “good data” from me. You need to follow up with your neurologist within 10 days from the conclusion of your study.
Another thing I wish I had known going into the study is that you can bring your own pillow, blanket, etc. This would have been helpful to me since my skin is sensitive & I usually have to ask for special non-down pillows. For example, I'm not sure what type of pillows this hotel used but just sitting next to the pillow filling out forms gave me an almost instantaneous red, itchy rash on my arm that was near the pillows. Housekeeping brought me special pillows which were uncomfortable. I would have slept better with a pillow from home.
My follow up visit was pretty uneventful. Conclusion: I have RLS & insomnia. Duh. I know I'm getting enough oxygen and they would like to do a more in-depth study once I'm off some of my medications. I'm working on that. Til then, I will continue to deal with my insomnia and try not to drive Mr.Surly crazy with my "jimmy legs."