Sleep clinic

REM sleep; EEG highlighted by red box; eye mov...
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A sleep clinic is a controlled environment where doctors can help people who are having sleep issues. It enables them to study the person under normal sleep conditions without drugs, alcohol, outside noise and city lights. In fact, many sleep doctors will refer their patient’s to a sleep clinic for testing in order to properly assess the person’s sleeping problems and patterns. However, most sleep clinics are not cheap and though most health insurance policies will cover the costs, not everything might be covered and some private clinics are not covered at all.

How a Sleep Clinic Operates

A sleep clinic operates by having the patient answer many of the same questions as their doctor asked them on special forms. They list all medications and use of such things as caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. They also look at the patient’s past medical history. Then, they arrange meetings with varied technicians for tests and arrange a number of overnight stays or as many as needed to address the suspected causes of the sleep issues. With narcolepsy and sleep apnea, most overnight visits are limited to one. Those with insomnia may require a few nights’ stay over a period of three consecutive days.

The overnight stay can be daunting for some people. Staff attaches electrodes to varied parts of the person’s body and hook them up to an electrocardiogram machine. Some are put on the head, chest, chin and eyes and are configured according to the studies being done. Then, as the person sleeps, a computer records data from the brain waves, which tell technicians which stages of sleep the person is in, about the rapid eye movement sleep (REM), any tension in the muscles and about the patterns of breathing. Quite often, staff will have a hidden camera in the room and recording equipment for sound. Sometimes a person is allowed to sleep straight through until they awake naturally, or the person is woken at designated times. However, tests results are not given until the person meets at a later date with the clinic doctor.

Sleep Clinic Expectations

Sleep clinics can neither guarantee to cure or prevent sleep issues or disorders. They are merely there to undertake specialized sleep tests and studies. Not everyone finds it easy to undergo sleep tests at sleep clinics and others have no trouble falling asleep. However, the whole purpose of the sleep clinic is to gain information, something that is invaluable for diagnosing sleep issues and disorders.


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