Thursday, August 26, 2010

An evening rendez-vous à l'hôpital

Now kittens, before you panic about the title of this post, relax! I'm fine. I just went for a sleep study Tuesday night.

How many of you have ever been to a sleep study? Here's a rundown of what happens if you haven't:

First, you arrive at the hospital around 7 PM, and someone meets you to take you to the sleep lab. A couple of weeks before your study, you have to fill out a rawther detailed questionnaire about your sleep habits, indicating such information as what time you get up, how long you work, do you doze off at the computer at work, that sort of thing. You hand the questionnaire to your sleep lab technician, who then asks you to fill out MORE paperwork about the type of day you had. This second questionnaire asks what you ate and drank during the day, what medications you took, and if you took any naps during the day (I wasn't supposed to).

The technician, upon collecting my paperwork, set me up with a DVD to watch. It was all about the sleep study: what it's for, what goes on, and what kind of data is collected. Did you know that a typical sleep study can gather up to 800 pages of data? I thought that was neat, and fascinating. That's one of the reasons why it takes two weeks to get the results back to the doctor. The lab sends out the information to the sleep specialist, who then sends it back to the lab, and then sends it back to the doctor.

After the video, the technician asked me to get into my PJs. There's no shower at the facility, or at least my particular one; you have to shower before the study, and make sure that your hair is completely free of any styling products. Any bit of residue can throw off the results.

So I put on my PJs, but I couldn't hop into bed right away. Oh, noooo. I had to be hooked up with lots of electrodes. First the technician attached two electrodes to my chest, because they were going to measure my heart rate during the night. Then she put a band around my stomach and attached two more electrodes. I also had one placed on the middle finger of my left hand. Then I had one attached to either leg.

And finally, here's the fun part. I had one electrode on my neck, and one taped beside my left eye. The one beside my eye was meant to measure my REM during the night. And then I had ten electrodes pasted to my head, to measure my brain waves.

All of these wires were gathered up into a "ponytail", and placed to the side of the bed. There was a camera directly over the bed, so the technician could watch me toss and turn during the night.

And then it was time for bed. I adjusted my sleep number (yes, I had a Select Comfort double bed), and fluffed my pillows and got my comforter ready. You're allowed to bring your own pillows and comforter, and I'm so glad I did; the ones the hospital had were rawther thin. And the room started out COLD!

So then the technician shut off the lights and I tried to find a comfy position. It was NOT easy, given that I could only adjust so much with a bunch of wires coming out of my head. And then a couple of times the technician had to come in and readjust the electrodes because she wasn't getting a good enough reading. I also requested a temperature readjustment. She upped the temp from 66 to 73 degrees--and then I got VERY warm.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well during the night. I could have called and asked for the temp to be readjusted, but I didn't want to wake up and disturb the results. And there was no clock in the room. I can understand why; there are some who have clock anxiety and get worried that they haven't fallen asleep by a certain time. Me? I find the clock comforting. I like knowing I have several hours before I need to be up and at 'em. So I had somewhat of a reverse clock anxiety.

I was awakened at quarter to five and given a post-sleep questionnaire. I was very honest about my lousy night of sleep and let them know it. However, I also had to compliment my sleep technician; she was very honest with me, answered all of my questions, explained things very thoroughly, and was very pleasant.

About twenty-five minutes later, I left the hospital. Fortunately my house is a five-minute drive from there. Yes, I am spoiled by living so close to the local hospital. I was alert, but not quite wide-awake, when I left that morning.

But, then I got home, greeted the cats, and saw the couch in my living room...

Three and a half hours later, I awoke again, much more refreshed and relaxed.

My doctor had referred me for a sleep study partly because of my weight. Yes, I am overweight, and she was concerned that I had sleep apnea. I have complained about waking up during the night, but I have always attributed it to the stress of my job. I have never woken up gasping for air.

But we'll see what happens. I'll keep y'all posted.


blueviolet said...

My ex did that and said it was the most NOT restful night he's ever had, partly because he was expected to fall asleep at a time he never went to sleep. But he was found to have woken up hundreds of times a night and got that sleep machine. Now he sleeps like a baby!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I don't think I could ever do that. I'm such a light sleeper as it is.