Sleep Studies

Most sleep problems can be solved by self-education, finding advice in book or ,like in this case , in the internet. Discussion with your family doctor or counsellor is also a good way to look into sleep problems that start becoming difficult to deal with. Some sleep disorders require referral to specialized unit (such as Sleep Medicine) where objective documentation of sleep, sleep study, is made with many measurements including brain activity, breathing frequency and regularity (in sleep apnea), leg movements (in restless leg). Often the person is video-recorded when abnormal movements (sleep walking, sleep epilepsy, violent behaviour) need to be clarified (see example below).

The use of a sleep diary is often used , particularly in the investigation of insomnia or body clock sleep disorders (circadian sleep disorders). An Actigraphy instrumentThe actigraphy is amore recent instrument used in the investigation of body clock problems (circadian sleep disorders). It consists of a watch like device which can be worn for up to 4 weeks and give us a measure of the timing and regularity of the person’s sleep and wake rhythm.

To the right is an example of actigraphy (click for a larger view). On the right border are the day of the week. At the top the time of the day , with 00:00 being midnight. In this example the person has a very regular pattern with sleep onset around 11pm, and get up time between 6 and 7am. Note the regularity.

An overview of investigations of sleep disorders is in this Sleep Study document.