If you're struggling with a sleep problem that's hard to diagnose, your doctor may recommend a sleep study. This involves spending the night at a sleep facility or hospital, where you'll be observed as you sleep. An EEG will monitor your sleep stages, while your heart rate, breathing, blood oxygen level, and eye and body movements are also tracked. Using the evidence collected during your sleep study, your doctor will be able to diagnose problems like sleep apnoea, narcolepsy, and periodic limb movement disorder.
It's important that you prepare for your study correctly and don't do anything that could compromise the results, as this could result in an incorrect diagnosis. Read on for details of three things you shouldn't do before your sleep study.
Change your usual routine
The point of a sleep study is to assess your usual sleep pattern. It's important not to make any major changes to your routine on the day of your study, as this could affect the results and make them less accurate. For example, if you don't usually drink caffeine, don't chug three energy drinks the evening before your study. This could have a big impact on your ability to sleep, and won't be representative of your usual sleep pattern. Equally, if you normally exercise, watch TV, or meditate before bed, try not to miss those aspects of your routine. Making the day of your sleep study as similar as possible to an average day will give you the best chance of getting the right diagnosis.
Worry about whether or not you'll sleep
It's natural to worry about whether or not you'll be able to sleep during your study. If you already struggle to fall asleep, then the thought of drifting off while hooked up to strange machines in a hospital can be quite daunting. It may be reassuring to know that a full night's sleep isn't necessary for the study to be worthwhile. Plenty of useful data can be collected from only a few hours of sleep, so there's no need to worry. You should also remember that the room you're in will be made dark and comfortable, and you'll be able to wear your own pyjamas. If there's a special blanket or soft toy that helps you sleep, then that can come along too.
Use unprescribed drugs
If you're really nervous about your sleep study, it could be tempting to use drugs to help you relax or fall asleep. It's essential not to do this. Not only could taking unprescribed drugs harm you, you'll also make the results of your study invalid, as factors like your heart and breathing rate will be affected. For valid results, stay away from all unprescribed drugs, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.