What is Polysomnography?

Sufficient, restful sleep is essential to so many of life’s functions, which is why polysomnography is a beneficial diagnostic tool for physicians. Also called a sleep study, this test is multi-faceted, recording many vital functions and aspects of our sleep experience. While it may be a mouthful to say, this collective of observational testing is essential to assess the factors interrupting sound, healthy sleep. In the article below, we’ll investigate what the test involves, where and by whom it is normally performed, and its ultimate purpose in our unconscious lives.

For Better Understanding

The short-term consequences of chronic insomnia, whether situational or due to an underlying sleep disorder, run the gamut from concentration deficits to general fatigue and a lowered immunity to pathogens common is close-knit social groups. While these are unpleasant enough, and can cause detrimental accidents, mistakes in routine tasks or chronic colds and other immune system upsets, they do not approach the serious consequences of long-term sleep deprivation on the human body.

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Along with potentially lowered immunity and reaction time, irritability and reduced performance quality in demanding mental or physical tasks, long-term disruptions to sleep can expose us to greater risks of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. It can lead to psychiatric disturbances such as depression or heightened anxiety, and may even lead us into patterns of substance abuse. The role of chronic insomnia in the body’s reduced capacity to digest and process nutrients, leading to obesity and related health complications is only now being explored, but the implications are unsettling.

In a society that prides itself on deprivation as a mark of dedication—placing extreme value on long work weeks in high-stress, highly sedentary occupations while encouraging the consumption of excessive fat, salt, and sugar in the form of convenience foods—sleep disruption should almost be taken for granted. But it has only recently gathered force as a matter of inquiry among the medical community. In the last several decades, what was a marginal field has taken center stage.

Sleep Studies and What They Entail

When your doctor recommends a sleep study to better understand the underlying causes of insomnia or other sleep deprivation, you may wonder what’s involved. Polysomnography is actually the measurement and monitoring of a range of critical factors. When you check into a sleep center or a dedicated hospital ward, professionals will monitor your heart and respiratory rates, brain activity, oxygen levels in your blood, body temperature, and leg and eye movement during the night. This is what is meant by a sleep study or a polysomnograph.

The reason so many factors are observed during these studies is that there are a number of underlying causes for disrupted sleep patterns. Apnea, a condition in which your body ceases to breathe or breathing is inhibited during deep sleep, is a common root cause of disrupted sleep. Excessive stress, diet, and even a deficit of exercise can render deep sleep elusive or impossible. But there are also specific sleep disorders that are related to neural activity or other bodily processes that can result in insomnia or insufficiently restful sleep.

The purpose of the study is to determine which of these many factors is inhibiting sleep. Once physicians have sufficient data, they can then offer solutions to the underlying causes of your sleep difficulties. We live in a fast-paced society, in which the demands on our attention and energy seem to multiply regularly. Polysomnography is a diagnostic tool that can help us attain the restful sleep essential to maintain the often frenetic pace of our daily lives.