Testing

What are Nocturnal Polysomnography (NPSG) and Electroencephalogram (EEG) tests?

AlphaSleep Lab uses Respironics Alice 5 System, which is a fully integrated sleep lab set up directly on the AlphaSleep Lab network. Nocturnal Polysomnography (NPSG) records breathing and physical activity, while an electroencephalogram (EEG), continuously measures and records brain activity during the sleep study.

Before testing begins, a trained sleep technician attaches several physiological monitors and EEG electrodes on the head and body. Once asleep, these monitors and electrodes send signals directly to the Alice 5 system. The Alice 5 continuously records breathing, brain activity, and physical activity during sleep. The simultaneous EEG registers depth of sleep and awareness during various sleep stages. Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be diagnosed or ruled out from the results of a PSG study.

Patients may also be fitted with special belts around the chest and abdomen and a fingertip pulse oximeter to further help test respiration pattern and oxygen levels during sleep.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

OSA is clinically defined as a temporary cessation in airflow with constant respiratory effort during sleep. Patients actually stop breathing in their sleep for a few seconds up to over a minute at a time. People with OSA typically have between 10 and 60 waking episodes a night. The disorder affects more that 12 million people in the US, and is diagnosed in twice as many men as women over the age of 35.

The exact cause of OSA is unknown. However, most OSA patients have an area near the soft palate down to the base of the tongue that collapses when surrounding muscles relax during sleep. This causes airway obstruction. When obstruction occurs, the patient wakes up for a few seconds to open the airway. This repetitive disruption prevents patients from reaching the deep stages of sleep that are necessary for strength, heart health, and replenishment. Obesity, excessive weight gain, old age, smoking, and drug and alcohol use are common risk factors for OSA.

What are the symptoms of OSA?

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness—extreme sleepiness or dozing off while sitting or standing still during routine activities.
  • Drowsy Driver Syndrome—falling asleep or diminished alertness while driving.
  • Morning Headaches—waking with headaches that decrease during the day.
  • Snoring/Gasping Episodes During Sleep—not all snoring indicates OSA. Many people who snore don’t stop breathing. A sleep study will determine if OSA occurs with snoring.

Studies have shown that OSA may play a part in stroke, heart disease, hypertension, depression, and erectile dysfunction in some patients.

What is the treatment for OSA?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a very real and potentially dangerous disorder. Since weight gain can be a significant contributor to OSA, weight loss often corrects the problem. Persistent OSA can be treated using oral appliances, fitted to eliminate obstruction, in many cases. Continuous positive pressure therapy (CPAP), and bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) are commonly used treat severe OSA. These methods of treatment impart positive air pressure to the upper airway through nasal prongs or a facial mask worn at bedtime. The level of air pressure needed varies by patient and is determined during a PSG sleep study. OSA sufferers quickly get used to sleeping with an oral appliance or mask. The benefits of getting a good night’s sleep far outweigh the temporary inconvenience of adjusting to airway assistance.

If you suspect you may have OSA, contact your doctor today and ask about an AlphaSleep Lab study. We’ll be ready. All you have to do is come in, get comfortable, drift off, and start dreaming.