You’ve tried warm milk, soothing music, an earlier bedtime, a new mattress, melatonin…the list goes on and on, but you’re still staring at the ceiling every night unable to sleep. Before you resign yourself to a life of counting sheep, know that a sleep clinic could help you get the rest you need.
Many sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia can be difficult to pinpoint while you’re awake, so doctors use sleep clinics to monitor patients overnight. While most sleep studies are set up to resemble private hotel rooms (to encourage you to fall asleep), you’ll technically be in a medical lab. Each room is equipped with a bed, as well as equipment that can help detect sleep problems by monitoring brain activity, eye movement, heart rate, snoring, body movements, and more.
If your doctor has been unable to diagnose your sleep disorder based on your sleep schedule and habits or if the treatments that you’ve already tried haven’t been effective, then you may be a good candidate for a sleep study. If you notice any of the following sleep problems, talk to your doctor about whether a sleep clinic may be right for you: Chronic snoring, extreme sleepiness during the day (even after a full night’s rest), trouble falling asleep at night on a regular basis, or frequent awakenings during the night.
If your doctor does decide that you would benefit from a sleep study, he or she may ask you to keep a sleep diary in advance and jot down information such as how much sleep you got, when you went to bed, and how many times you woke up during the night. Then he can compare this diary—how you sleep at home—with how you slept at the lab. Once you get to the sleep clinic and climb into bed, sticky electrode sensors will be placed on your face, chest, and limbs, and the technician will monitor the incoming data from the next room (don’t worry, you’ll have privacy!). While the electrodes may look and feel funny, they won’t cause any discomfort.
Remember, going to a sleep lab may seem like a hassle, but disorders such as insomnia can wreak havoc on your overall health and a condition such as sleep apnea can even be potentially life-threatening. So if participating in a sleep study helps you get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, then it’s well worth it!
Bonus Tip: If you’re considering going to a sleep clinic, but are turned off by the price, which can start around $1300, check out the pros and cons of a home sleep study kit, which starts around $250 to $300.