Diagnosing Sleep Disorders

How do you know if your sleeplessness is an isolated event or if it is a more serious sleep disorder? If it is a breathing related sleep disorder, how do you know if your problem is just simple snoring or a more serious problem called obstructive sleep apnea? Sleep tests run in conjunction with an analysis of your sleep disorder symptoms will help determine the type of condition you have and the best treatment options

Sleep Test Questions

If you experience any of the following symptoms regularly, it is highly possible that your sleeplessness may be part of a sleep disorder. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Feel sleepy or irritable during the day?
  • Have regular emotional outbursts?
  • Have difficulty focusing or concentrating?
  • Feel like taking a nap regularly?
  • Feel tired or sleepy while driving?
  • Often get told by others that you look sleepy or tired?
  • Need caffeinated drinks to keep up the energy?

There are many different types of sleep disorders, and some can be easily diagnosed just by the specific symptoms that a sufferer displays. Others may require doctor consultation and a sleep disorder test to make sure that the condition is not caused by another, underlying health condition.

Sleep Tests

Some of the things doctors consider when diagnosing a sleep disorder are overall health, weight, and even environmental factors. You may be asked if you snore, which, in addition to recent weight gain, can actually be a symptom of sleep apnea. Following a physical examination, your doctor may require you to undergo one or more of the following sleeping tests:

Sleep Log – A sleep journal or sleep diary will probably be one of the first things your doctor or physician will suggest. You will be asked to record everything about your sleep, including: what time you go to bed, how long it takes for you to get to sleep, how often you wake up, if you snore, your environment, if your partner snores or moves around, if you move around a lot in your sleep, and if you wake up before the alarm. These, and other factors that you record, will help the doctor figure out if you have a sleep disorder, what kind it is and how to treat it.

Mental Health Exam – There are many psychological issues that can cause insomnia and other sleep disorders. Some of the things that your physician will be looking for are anxiety and depression, he or she will record your mental health history, that of your family and other psychological issues that could be causing your sleeping difficulties.

Epworth Sleepiness Scale – This is a questionnaire that is used to evaluate sleepiness during the daytime or night time, depending on whether or not the person with the sleep disorder works days or nights.

Polysomnography, PSG – A polysomnograph is a sleep test that is performed in a sleep lab or clinic while the person is sleeping. It records changes in the body during sleep, measuring breathing, body movements, oxygen saturation and the heart rate. This record allows the sleep lab technician to determine what is happening while you sleep, and specifically what is contributing to the sleeping problems so they can diagnose a sleep disorder or other condition. A home sleep test has become increasingly popular as it is less expensive and more convenient than a polysomnogram in a sleep lab.

Actigraphy– An actigraph is a device that the person wears on the wrist, and is usually no larger than a typical watch. This device measures movement during sleep, which can be a huge factor in many sleep disorders.

If you are having difficulties sleeping, a doctor consultation may be necessary. The doctor may perform some, or even all, of the above sleep tests to correctly diagnose a sleep disorder. Once the condition is diagnosed, then you and your doctor create a treatment plan to correct the problem, so you don’t have any more sleepless nights.

Essential further reading:

This entry was posted in Sleep Disorders. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.