No one WANTS to be watched while they sleep. I certainly did and do not. It turns out that sometimes it might be worth dealing with that experience anyway. In case you are now very concerned for my well being, this is all part of the experience of getting a sleep study. Curious why I got a sleep study? Check out my previous sleep post.
At Home Sleep Study
The first step in this whole journey was to learn about the existence of home sleep studies. Apparently, these tests collect relatively accurate data but that they may result in false negatives - meaning they may incorrectly show that you don't have sleep apnea. Therefore, they are mainly used as screening tools.
So I did the at home study. It was pretty straightforward and non-stressful. I hooked a watch-like device (pictured above) to my wrist, put one sensor on my chest, and one on my pointer finger, connected the app on my phone, then went to sleep. The results were negative for sleep apnea. However, due to the false negatives, this meant that if I wanted accurate answers I would have to do an in person sleep study.
In Person Study
The good news about an in person sleep study is that they are able to collect so many kinds of data that they are likely to discover not only sleep apnea, but any other sleep disfunction that you might have. The bad news is that it is, honestly, a fairly uncomfortable experience. The staff was pleasant and interesting, the rooms were nice enough - sleep number mattress! - but sleeping is difficult hooked up to wires, being watched.
It took about an hour to hook up all of the wires, straps, and oxygen sensors. So, fair warning introverts, prepare to be stuck talking for that whole hour. Luckily, my technician had a lot of interesting stories and carried a good conversation. With my Borg cosplay completed, the lights were turned off, and the technician warned me that he might have to come in and adjust wires if things move around. So essentially, "hey, I might walk in and touch you while you sleep...sweet dreams!".
Then, as I laid in bed trying to calm my nerves, the voice of my technician sounded through the room's built in intercom system. He gave me instructions to move my eyes, jaw, and feet, so that they could calibrate their instruments. The last calibration was to snore three times loudly. Of course, this set me off into a ridiculously long coughing fit. So, I'm laying there trying to suppress my coughing, not move, lest he re-enter the room, and somehow get comfortable enough to sleep. All I have to say is that I am very glad that I was able to take my normal sleep medication. Evidently they only need a couple hours of sleep data, which I am told I did excellently. My body did not necessarily agree about the excellence of my sleep.
This experience was pretty anxiety inducing for me. I had anxiety about being in such a vulnerable position, driving to a new place at night, and the possibility of missing an important work event in the morning. BUT I did not let that stop me because sleep is such a vital part of mental health. It is a part that I have never addressed adequately, despite knowing about its importance. I finally initiated the steps needed to improve this aspect of my life. So, I think that the 15 or so panic attacks that I had, before and after the test, were fully worth it. I hope that in your life, you are also able to work through your anxiety in order to reach new goals. It is not easy but it is important.
They scheduled my appointment to discuss results two weeks out from the test. I am trying to be patient but I am so curious about the findings. I got weirdly excited that I had a set of nightmares during the study. Show me all my sleep disfunction! That is all I have for now, but I will write an update once I receive results.
As always, take care of yourself. You are worth it.