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Do you need a sleep test?

Know what these overnight evaluations can—and can't—do if you're suffering from insomnia

Published: April 15, 2015 02:30 PM

If you’re experiencing ongoing sleep problems, an overnight, noninvasive sleep test (known as polysomnography) might tell you what's causing the issue. But it’s not the best way to diagnose chronic insomnia, according to recent recommen­dations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

Instead, your doctor should take a thorough medical and sleep history and have you keep a log that details your sleep/wake sched­ule, the kinds of activities you're doing before bedtime, and the frequency of your nighttime awak­enings.

A sleep study should be done when a disorder that affects sleep, such as sleep apnea, is suspected, says M. Safwan Badr, M.D., immediate past president of the AASM. Testing might also be appropriate if your doctor is uncertain about the cause of your sleep problem, or therapy or medications don’t help.

Find free information on the best treatments for insomnia, and learn which mattress is the best for you.

And you don't always have to stay away from home overnight for a sleep evaluation. An overnight stay in an accredited sleep center might be helpful if the disorders narcolepsy or periodic limb movements are suspected. A home-based sleep test can be considered if sleep apnea is a possi­bility. In both cases, sleep time, breathing, and other functions are monitored.

—Catherine Winters


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