My Night at the Sleep Study

I spent my Saturday night at a sleep disorder center having a sleep study done. I’ve never had one of these before and didn’t really know what to expect, aside from being hooked up to a bunch of machines. My doctor didn’t suspect sleep apnea, but apparently all kinds of fun stuff can happen while you sleep. Some examples my doctor gave me were “not getting enough oxygen” or “drop in blood pressure.” Any of these things could happen without me waking up enough to realize something was wrong.

Sleep Study Room

Sleep Study Room

I brought a small bag with my PJs, a book, toothbrush and toothpaste and a spare outfit for the next day. I did not know until I got there that I could have brought my own pillow.

This is not helping me relax.

I arrived a little early, which was probably good since it took over an hour to get everything hooked up to my body. Each person has their own room, which is like a cross between a cheap hotel room and a hospital. There was a TV, but you could only watch it while getting set up. Each room has a bathroom and like a hospital, the bathroom has benches in the shower and a big “dirty linen” hamper. They also had a bunch of towels, but no wash cloths. You were not allowed to get in bed until everything was arranged. I’m the kind of person who likes to lay in bed to read or watch TV, so that was already weird and uncomfortable. I was assigned a male technician who got me all set up and was then responsible for monitoring me from a room across the hall. He asked if I wanted anything to eat or drink. They had a whole list of sugary snacks and some juice and caffeine free drinks, a little like being on an airplane, but I just got water. I had two electrode patches on each leg. The technician measured my neck, and all around my head, then drew on my scalp/hair with a red oil pencil. Then he “glued” EEG electrodes all over my head. I got electrodes on my face, including one that was really close to my eye and super annoying. He put two elastic bands around my body, one around my waist and another around my chest. These were plugged into a monitor and would track how my chest and abdomen expanded while I breathed. These were really weird at first, but I eventually got mostly accustomed to them. I did wake up several times I had the feeling I wanted to take off my bra, but it was just the weird chest strap. At least they didn’t strap me down to the bed!

The room where time doesn't exist.

The room was set up with a camera and a microphone. I was allowed to read for a while until I felt sleepy. I was supposed to say when I was ready for them to turn the reading light out. But when I put my book on the side table and lay still for a few minutes, a lady technician came in and asked if I wanted the light out. I also got her to turn the heat up because I was freezing. I didn’t like the oxygen mask they tried to get me to wear, so I got to skip that one. It just felt like being underwater, in a creepy way. Too much pressure in my ears. They did give me two things that went slightly into my nostrils and one part that hung down just in front of my lips. That was weird and I kept wanting to lick it away.

Ready for my beauty sleep!

Once everything was set up, I didn’t have as much trouble falling asleep as I had anticipated. However, I definitely felt like I woke up more during the night than usual. I was awake a few times coughing, because my throat felt really dry, possibly the air in the room was dry. I would try to flip over and get tangled a little and I think that woke me up, where in my normal bed I can roll over without waking up. Also, I really should have brought my own pillow. I’m a princess and the pea type and can be very particular. The walls of the rooms were not thick enough and I could hear the technician setting up the patient in the next room. Light from the hallway came in through the crack under the door and there was light from some of the monitors. I sleep best in a complete blackout darkness situation, but I don’t like those eye masks.

I woke up once to use the bathroom. I know I woke up probably at least 5 times total. Sometimes I’d wake up and just sorta think “oh, I’m still in this place” but I never woke up freaking out.

The technician woke me up at 5:30 am and we took all the wires off. In the morning, my hair was crazy. The glue stuff for the EGG electrodes made my hair look like I was auditioning for the sequel to “There’s Something About Mary.” I wasn’t planning to shower there, and had not brought any hair stuff, not even a comb! They had a hair dryer I could use, except it was broken. It was about 35 degrees and drizzling this morning and I was planning to head straight to Target. I had to think if I wanted to go out with glue hair, like a crazy person, or with wet hair, like a person about to catch pneumonia. In the end, I stuffed my hair under my winter hat and went to my parents’ house to shower.

Glue in my hair

It should take about 7-10 before my doctor gets the test results, and probably another few days before I hear from her. Hopefully nothing crazy shows up, and extra hopefully I don’t have to have that test again. Overall it wasn’t terrible, but it was not exactly enjoyable either. C-