The Sleep Lab opened in 1998 in response to a growing awareness of sleep apnea, a disorder that prevents individuals from achieving restful and restorative sleep. The lab is set up to monitor patients while they sleep, helps technicians gather information about the quality of sleep, heart rate, breathing, and oxygen levels. That information provides a physician with data necessary for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Testing is done overnight in the quiet, home-like lab. Patients are hooked up to sensors, and most have no trouble getting to sleep. If patients feel they will have trouble, their doctor can prescribe a sleep aid, which doesn’t affect the test.
The equipment monitors in 30-second intervals important health factors such as heart rate, brain waves, and oxygen levels. It indicates when a patient is snoring.
Snoring is one indicator of sleep apnea. It occurs when there is a partial obstruction of an airway. In sleep apnea, the partial obstruction becomes complete, and all airflow is stopped. The brain senses the drop in oxygen levels and fully or partially wakes the individual, who may not even know he or she awakens. That seesaw between waking and sleeping plays havoc with restful sleep.
Sleep apnea is only one of several sleep disorders, which also includes narcolepsy (the body’s inability to control sleep cycles), parasomnia (sleep walking and the like), and panic attacks during sleep. The lab is able to assist physicians in diagnosis, and determine which specialized treatment can help.
The Sleep Lab accommodates four patients a night, four nights a week. It is solidly booked four to six weeks in advance and requires a doctor’s orders for undergoing the test.
For more information on the Sleep Lab, call (413) 534-2557.