Since sleep studies have become a normal diagnostic tool in the last 20 years, doctors are quick to prescribe a sleep study for many medial conditions, most commonly sleep apnea, bruxism (grinding your jaws in your sleep), narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome. However, sleep studies can be brutal to go through. Think carefully before you agree to a sleep study.
Bad candidates for a sleep study include:
- People who work 7 days a week. You will not get a good night's sleep after a sleep study. Many people need to take the next day off of work or try to schedule their sleep studies for when they are off work. However, if you work seven days a week, you're going to be screwed.
- If you cannot sleep with air blowing on you. Many people get used to air blowing on their faces, which happens when you get a CPAP machine. If you and your doctor already know that you have sleep apnea not caused by a anatomical problem, a CPAP machine is the usual treatment. However, if you are like me, you cannot sleep if air is blowing on your skin. Granted, this happens to very few people, but I'm one, so I'm mentioning it here. I'm 44 and have never been able to sleep with air blowing on any part of my skin, even air blown from fans.
- People who cannot sleep in new places. If you're like me, you have tremendous trouble sleeping in new places like hotels, airports, camping trips or while going on an overnight visit to family members. I think it's a survival instinct. Your subconscious is not sure if where you are sleeping is entirely safe. Sleep study centers vary in quiet, comfort and security. The good news is that you only need to sleep a few minutes during the night in order for doctors to see if you have sleep apnea or whatever. The bad news is that you will only get a few minutes of sleep. Keep in mind that you may have to get more than one sleep study in order to get a diagnosis. You may sleep better the second time around.
- People who work swing shifts or nights. The vast majority of sleep studies are done at night. Unless you can somehow arrange a day study, you will not be able to sleep during your normal work hours.
Whether or not you get a sleep study is up to you and the doctor who recommends that you get one. Keep in mind that sleep studies are a big deal and may be a huge pain in the butt for you if you are a bad candidate for a sleep study. My Mom's first sleep study screwed her up her circadian rhythms for a week. Her second went much smoother. However, my Mom was retired and was free to sleep whenever she felt like it. Many people do not have this freedom.
Image of soldier getting hooked up for a sleep study by Staff Sgt. Christopher Klutts for Wikimedia Commons.