Center for Sleep Disorders
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Sleep Test?
- The Center is a clinic and testing facility for individuals who have problems with sleep. These problems may include insomnia, excessive sleepiness, loud snoring, or abnormal behavior during sleep. The Center provides up-to-date diagnostic and treatment services for individuals with these complaints.
- Insomnia is a term used to describe complaints of difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep, or obtaining an adequate amount of good-quality sleep. Many individuals with insomnia complain of daytime fatigue or lack of energy, and they may not recognize that their real problem is an insomnia disorder. Insomnia may be caused by medical or emotional illness, poor sleep habits, chronic use of sedative or stimulant drugs such as sleeping pills, alcohol, or caffeine. There are other specific sleep diseases which may present as insomnia and may only be diagnosable through sleep-lab testing.
- This is a term used to describe abnormal breathing during sleep. This abnormal breathing most commonly appears as long pauses (called apneas) or shallow breathing in between normal or even loud breaths. Because of these pauses or irregularities, the patient may experience low oxygen levels in the blood, which may affect the heart, lungs, and brain. Sleep apnea is often associated with very loud snoring and being overweight, but may also occur in people of all ages and sizes without snoring.
- Most people with sleep apnea complain of excessive sleepiness or fatigue while they are awake. Some patients or their family members may have noted loud snoring at night and may have recognized that breathing seems to stop at times during sleep. Some patients complain of waking up and gasping for breath. Family and associates may recognize memory problems or personality changes in the sleep apnea patient.
- The most common cause of excessive sleepiness in our society is probably not getting enough sleep at night. This may occur as a result of working long hours or studying late at night or may be due to late night entertainment such as TV. These kinds of reasons, though common, are usually not too serious as the individual may easily catch up on his lack of sleep by sleeping late or deciding to get to bed “on time”. Other individuals may have more serious problems which are not so easily solved. Narcolepsy is a disease which may be inherited in which individuals may have overwhelming attacks of sleep during the day or episodes of sudden weakness after emotional stress such as anger, fear, or even laughter. Many other medical and emotional problems may result in excessive sleepiness. These complaints should be brought to the attention of one’s family doctor; some of these problems can only be properly diagnosed through sleep lab testing.
- All of us move periodically during our sleep – from sleeping on our backs to rolling onto our sides. These normal changes in body position occur every 5 to 10 minutes. Some individuals have abnormal movements such as repetitive kicking or jerking of the legs and arms. Others may act out their dreams – which can be quite violent and potentially injurious to themselves or their bed-partner. When movements are excessive, or violent, or sufficiently frequent enough to ruin the restfulness of sleep – then this is considered a sleep disorder and evaluation/treatment is warranted.
- Many insurance companies, including Medicaid and medicare, offer insurance coverage for evaluation and treatment of sleep disorders. It is recommended that patients investigate their reimbursement status prior to evaluation. The UT Health Northeast’s patient management insurance staff can help provide this information.
- The Sleep Center is physically located in the main hospital building, but testing does not require admission to the hospital. Most sleep studies are performed during nighttime hours and many patients undergo two nights of testing, which allows for diagnosis and treatment of their sleep disorder. Sometimes it is necessary to measure exactly how sleepy a patient is during the daytime. Daytime testing may also be necessary to make a definite diagnosis for diseases such as narcolepsy.
- To prepare for your sleep study you should:
- Please wash and dry your hair the day of the test.
- Bring appropriate sleep attire with you for your test.
- Bring all medications you will need, including any breathing, pain or sleeping medications with you to your study.
- Bring any personal items you may need (favorite pillow, toothpast, toothbrush, stuffed animal)
- If you use a CPAP or BIPAP machine, please bring it and your mask and headgear.
- A follow up appointment will be made for you with one of our sleep doctors. It is important that you keep this appointment to disscuss your test results.
- Many patients are referred by their primary physician to UT Health Northeast for testing, but patients may self refer by contacting UT Health Northeast’s Center for Sleep Disorders for an appointment. Sleep tests are only done after a thorough medical evaluation, and only if the sleep test is found to be medically necessary.