What is and how is a polysomnography performed?

Sleep is a biological requirement of living beings that allows to restore physical and psychological functions. From the study of it it is possible to evaluate the state in which the organism is. Are you interested in knowing what a polysomnography is and how is it performed? Next we will tell you.

Polysomnography is a non-invasive medical test used to study sleep and identify alterations that may occur during it. Brain waves are recorded and data on oxygenation, cardiac activity, respiratory, motor and ocular response are obtained.

The study is carried out in specialized sleep units. This procedure is usually performed at night, although on certain occasions it can be requested in the morning.

What is polysomnography done for?

Polysomnography is the method of choice for diagnosing pathologies that affect the quality and quantity of rest. This study is often used to identify obstructive sleep apnea and hypopnea syndrome, an entity that affects more than 4% of the adult population with daytime sleepiness and cognitive impairment.

Similarly, it is used in the detection and prognostic determination of narcolepsy. In addition, it makes it possible to study the origin of periodic limb movement disorder, in which the patient moves his legs or arms spontaneously and involuntarily while sleeping.

On the other hand, polysomnography has shown utility in rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder. Faced with this condition, the patient tends to act and physically express the movements he is making in dreams.

Sleepwalking behavior and chronic insomnia with no apparent cause are also reasons for indication. In general, it is part of the follow-up protocol for patients identified with sleep disorders, allowing therapy to be maintained or readjusted.

Patients with sleep apnea usually require a polysomnography to determine the parameters of their rest, to evaluate the therapy.

Previous preparation

In most cases, polysomnography does not require extensive preparation, unless indicated by the treating physician. A primary factor for its performance is that the patient is relaxed and with moderate levels of sleep. This will make it easier to start the test and take measurements.

It is advisable not to consume alcohol, coffee, sodas or energy drinks the day before the study. These substances alter sleep patterns and make it difficult to start the deep phase of it. So you should choose to do relaxing activities that promote rest, such as a hot water bath.

On the other hand, drugs that induce sleep should not be taken, as the equipment's registration would give wrong results. Lotions, creams or gels on the skin should be avoided, since they make contact with the electrodes difficult, creating interferences.

In case of opting for a polysomnography at home, the doctor will give the patient the necessary equipment and will explain in detail all the steps for its use. However, if you have any questions, you should consult the specialist as soon as possible.

Read also: Drugs that cause excessive drowsiness

What happens during polysomnography?

The comprehensive sleep assessment can be performed in a specialized hospital center or in the comfort of home, according to the characteristics of each patient. As usual, sleep centers have rooms and rooms set to relax the patient, with lights dim or off and in total silence.

Polysomnography is indicated at night or during the usual rest hours, seeking to recreate the conditions of a daily nap. Multiple studies establish that it must include a time record of no less than 6 and a half hours, with at least 3 hours of continuous sleep.

To begin, several electrodes fixed with adhesive on the scalp, temples, eyelids, chin, chest and legs will be placed on the patient. They will be connected to a central computer that will record all the vital variables and the sleep pattern.

Sometimes a machine with positive pressure and ventilatory support is usually placed in the airway during the test, in order to facilitate air flow and breathing. Polysomnography does not have any type of contraindication and is performed in stable patients.

Most people have trouble sleeping during these types of tests. However, a good night's sleep is not required to deliver accurate results.

What is measured with polysomnography?

During polysomnography the patient will be kept under continuous observation by a specialist, through a camera located in the room. In addition, the examiner is contacted through an audio system.

Throughout the process, the following variables are captured and valued:

  • Brain waves.
  • Phases and patterns of sleep.
  • Heart and respiratory rate.
  • Muscle movements
  • Oxygen levels.
  • Eye movements
  • Position of the patient.

The recording of electrical waves that denote activity in the different organs is part of what polysomnography detects.

You may be interested in: Alpha waves: why is it important to stimulate them?

After the test

Once the study is finished, the electrodes and sensors will be removed from the patient's body. In this way, he can prepare to go home. People can resume their daily activities and tasks without inconvenience.

A new appointment with the examiner must be scheduled, once he has the results. These will make it possible to confirm or rule out any clinical suspicion and establish a protocol for care and treatment.

What do the polysomnography results mean?

The variables recorded in the study are used to create a graphic inscription of the patient's behavior during sleep. The appearance of brain wave patterns and abnormal eye movements identifies conditions such as narcolepsy and conduct disorders.

In the same way, episodes of partial and total blockage of breathing during sleep are evaluated, which usually last 10 seconds and are rare in most people. However, the presence of more than 5 of these episodes during polysomnography guides the diagnosis of sleep apnea.

In addition, the specialist must consider the evidence of involuntary movements and jerky events that may be recorded. This is of utmost importance when there is a suspicion of limb movement disorders and even epileptiform pathologies.

A useful test to identify sleep pathologies

Polysomnography is the ideal tool for the detection of conditions associated with sleep patterns and stages. It is usually quite specific and facilitates the diagnostic guidance of the specialist doctor.

Its application allows an early and meaningful approach to sleep disorders, offering a better quality of life to patients.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *