Diagnostic Sleep Lab

Feeling tired?

An estimated 46 million Americans suffer from serious, chronic sleep problems – many of them undiagnosed. A sleep disorder can be defined as any condition that affects an individual’s ability to obtain a restful and restorative night’s sleep. A sleep disorder not only affects quality of life, it can have serious health consequences as well, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain.

How it works

Sleep testing is a one-fee service provided by the Diagnostic Sleep Laboratory at Stephens County Hospital. Our own Respiratory Therapy staff, who have received additional training for sleep studies, will conduct and monitor the patient’s sleep exam. The testing suite is furnished and arranged much like a residential bedroom. The morning after the test, the patient can shower and have breakfast at the hospital and begin their day like any other. Monitoring devices such as low-light video cameras, intercoms, EEG/EKG and respiratory support equipment are used to record during sleep for interpretation. Once the test results are scored, typically within a week, a copy of the sleep study along with an interpretation will be sent to the referring physician. If the need for a CPAP trial is recommended, Stephens County Hospital Diagnostic Sleep Laboratory can make arrangements for the trial directly with the patient if you wish. Again, you will be informed as to the test results and any recommendations.

Common sleep disorders

Circadian Rhythm Disorders
Circadian Rhythm Disorders include a variety of disorders of the sleep-wake cycle such as jet lag syndrome, delayed and advanced sleep phase syndrome (waking or sleeping at undesired times) and shift-work sleep disorder. Treatment can include sleep hygiene education, lifestyle changes and bright light therapy.

Insomnia refers to the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep and can range from mild to chronic in its intensity. Causes vary and include sleep disturbances triggered by shift-work, poor bedtime habits, stress, life-changing circumstances, or mental or physical illnesses. Treatment depends on the diagnosed cause of the insomnia. For example, if the cause of insomnia is anxiety, a combination of medication and psychotherapy may be in order. If the cause is something physical, such as gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn), medications or lifestyle changes may be recommended.

Narcolepsy is a condition characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations (dreamlike images that occur at sleep onset), and brief episodes of muscle weakness or paralysis precipitated by strong emotion, such as laughter or surprise. Patients experience uncontrollable sleep attacks during inappropriate occasions. Currently, there is no cure. However, symptoms can usually be managed through medication, behavioral treatment and management of the patient’s environment.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition characterized by excessive snoring and involves the frequent collapse of the breathing passageway during sleep, with partial or complete blockage resulting. Corrective treatment may include sleep-position training, lifestyle changes, oral appliances that keep the airway open at night, and/or a nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) device that uses air pressure to splint the airway open during sleep.

Parasomnias are disruptive phenomena that occur during sleep or are exaggerated by sleep. These include stomach acid reflux syndrome, nocturnal asthma, sleepwalking/talking and nightmares. Parasomnias occur most often in children and are a cause for alarm only if the behaviors are violent or may cause injury, are disturbing to other household members or result in excessive daytime sleepiness. In adults, these disorders can arise from other conditions such as sleep apnea. The course of treatment depends on the diagnosed underlying cause.

Restless Legs Syndrome
This condition is marked by crawling or tingling sensations in the legs while awake and an irresistible urge to move the legs during rest. After ruling out any possible underlying causes such as diabetes, doctors may prescribe lifestyle changes and/or medication. This syndrome is frequently associated with periodic leg twitches during sleep, which may disrupt or fragment sleep.


Sleep Test FAQs

Q: What is a sleep test?
A: A sleep test – called a polysomnogram – is a test that records a person’s physical state during various stages of sleep and wakefulness. The test provides data about sleep stages, body position, blood oxygen levels, respiratory events, muscle tone, heart rate, snoring, and general sleep behavior. This data is essential in evaluating sleep and sleep-related complaints.

Q: Who will be with me during my sleep test?

A: The Diagnostic Sleep Laboratory staff of Stephens County Hospital are Licensed Respiratory Therapists specially trained in Sleep Diagnostics. Polysomnographic technologists (Sleep Techs) are members of a health care team that diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Sleep Techs educate, apply sensors, monitor, and take care of patients during their sleep test. The sleep tech can answer any questions that you may have but cannot tell you the test results. Please make sure to make an appointment with your physician, following the completion of your sleep exam(s), to receive the results.

Q: What can I expect during my sleep test?

A: When you arrive at the Stephens County Hospital, please go to the Emergency Department to register. Please remember to tell the registration staff that you are here for a sleep exam. When the registration process is complete, they will notify the Sleep Lab staff that you are ready to be accompanied to the Sleep Laboratory. During the process of getting you ready for your sleep exam, the Sleep Technician will connect sensors that are applied to your head, chest, legs and finger with water-soluble paste and gauze or tape. While they may look uncomfortable, most patients report that the equipment does not disturb their sleep. The monitoring equipment is non-invasive and painless.

It is not a problem to have a drink of water or to use the restroom during the sleep test. The Sleep Technician will monitor the sleep test from another room throughout the night and will wake you in the morning to remove the sensors. You will be asked to complete a questionnaire concerning your sleep experience, and then you may leave. The Sleep Center has a shower you can use in the morning – however, you will need to bring your own personal hygiene products. Following your night in the Laboratory you may receive a free breakfast in the Stephens County Hospital Cafeteria. A voucher will be provided before you leave the Laboratory.

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea may need Positive Airway Pressure (PAP), which is a device that gently blows air into your nasal passages to splint the airway open during sleep. If your initial sleep exam shows severe complications, PAP therapy may be started the night of your first exam. However, many patients, though having Obstructive Sleep Apnea, do not demonstrate the severe symptoms which allow us to start therapy that first night. In these cases, patients will be contacted by the Central Scheduling Department to return for a PAP exam. During this exam, the sleep staff will adjust CPAP pressure to best treat your specific needs.

Q: Are there special instructions for the day of the sleep test?

A:- Shower – Please shower prior to coming to the Sleep laboratory, and wash and dry your hair. Avoid using hair products such as gels, hairsprays or heavy conditioners, because they may prevent the electrodes from sticking to your scalp.

- No nail polish – Remove nail polish and/or artificial nails from at least two fingers. The oximeter is placed on your finger nail to monitor blood oxygen levels.

- No make-up – Make-up may interfere with the sensor connections on your face. If you wear make-up to the sleep lab, you must remove it before the test begins.

- No naps – Unless instructed otherwise by your doctor, most patients are asked to obtain a normal night’s sleep before the test. Avoid a nap on the day of your sleep test.

- Limit caffeine – Take your regular medications and limit your caffeine intake. To achieve the best possible test results DO NOT take anything that contains caffeine after 2:00 PM the day of your exam. Please remember that this includes coffee, tea (including iced tea), most sodas, energy drinks, hot chocolate and chocolate products.

- Medications – Unless your physician office advises you otherwise, continue to take all your regular prescribed medications.

- Bedding – The Sleep Center provides bedding including sheets, blankets and lots of pillows. Please do not bring any bedding from home.


Q: What do I bring with me for the sleep test?


- Pajamas – Bring your own pajamas or any comfortable non-silky sleepwear including shorts, or a T-shirt and sweat pants, but preferably not clothes that are made with silky material which easily holds static.

- Toiletries – Bring toiletries such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, shampoo and conditioner.

- Medication – Bring all medications that you take in the evening and in the morning.

- Book or video – There is a television in the room. You may bring DVDs or reading material, such as a book or magazine. Once the exam is started all of these items must be turned off.

- Change of clothes – Bring clothes for the following day.

Q: What if I have to reschedule?

A: We understand that conflicts do arise that may prevent you from being here for your sleep exam. If this happens, please contact our Central Scheduling Department (706) 282-4466, and they will attempt to accommodate your needs. Please provide at least 24 hours notice so that we may accommodate others.

While we do understand that emergencies do occur; however, we cannot allow more than one rescheduled appointment. Frequent rescheduling prevents us from being able to complete testing for all our patients.