An Over-view Of Sleeping Dis-orders In 2023

Behind the scenes

Now, what actually happens during this whole process?

When you arrive at the sleep lab, the sleep technician on site will give you information about what’s to come and what you can expect from this process. Usually, a sleep technician will be the one in the lab who collects the data, and then a sleep specialist will analyze the data after the fact.

After the briefing from the technician, they’ll have you change into your sleep clothes (most people come with PJs or scrubs), and then they’ll paste 12 to 14 patches called electrodes to different locations on your body:

  • your chest to monitor cardiac activity
  • your legs to monitor leg movement
  • your scalp and forehead to monitor brainwave activity

These electrodes are attached with wires, all of which lead to a control box that’s about the size of a smartphone, which is attached to the front of your scrubs. That means that if you get up, you can disconnect the control box so you don’t have to walk with it, but everything else stays in place.

Some technicians may also set you up with some belts around your chest and abs, and a tube under your nose to measure the flow of air, depending on the circumstance.

And then, once you’re all rigged up… it’s bedtime!

The technicians usually start the study around the time you report going to bed, so the hope is that you fall asleep like you do at home. Most patients tend to watch something on TV to help them fall asleep.

Technicians also ask you to sleep in whatever position you sleep at home, though if they notice that you’re sleeping on your back and not getting any sleep in that position, they’ll ask you to sleep on your side instead — because sleep apnea is generally worse when you’re facing up.

“So yes, it’s not the most comfortable sleep with all the wires, but you can turn,” says Friedman. “It’s a bit restrictive, but it’s not terrible.”

Plus, key fact: The study doesn’t last all night. Once you do fall asleep, the technicians only need about 3 to 4 hours to measure your sleep, not the full 8 hours — though you can sleep for however long you want.

“Most patients end up sleeping for about 5 to 7 hours, and leaving early in the morning, around 6 a.m., so they can actually sleep at home if they weren’t able to get a full night’s rest during the study,” explains Romulo Cordero, director of the Sleep Center and Neurodiagnostics at Crystal Run Healthcare, a health center with locations throughout New York.

On the off chance that you get stage fright and simply can’t sleep a wink during your entire sleep study, the doctors will likely ask you to come back for another session — this time with a sleep aid.

“There’s a well-known phenomenon called the ‘First Night Effect’ where people might have decreased sleep time when sleeping in a new environment — so if that happens during the study, we’ll have to repeat it,” explains Al-Sharif.

Finding the answers

If all goes well, your doctor will be able to diagnose you with a condition based on your sleep study, and you’ll be that much closer to a treatment plan.

As we already mentioned, there are 120 sleep disorders in total that a sleep study can pick up on, though there are five major ones it helps to know about, explains Cordero:

Sleep apnea

This is a disorder of the airway, and it’s very common: An estimated that 26 percent of Americans between 30 and 70 experience it. The signs include:

  • snoring
  • gasping for air or stopping breathing while you’re sleeping
  • always feeling sleepy
  • not being able to watch TV because you fall asleep so quickly

There are two types: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where the airway collapses due to a blockage behind the tongue, and the less common central sleep apnea (CSA), where the brain essentially stops your breathing.

The treatment involves using a CPAP machine, which helps deliver a stream of oxygenated air to your airways.


You likely already know this condition: It’s when you  can’t sleep. Around 30 percentTrusted Source of U.S. adults are diagnosed with insomnia, which can either be chronic or transient. The treatment depends on the root cause.

“We have to go deep and ask: What’s triggering this?” says Cordero. Most of the time, it’s anxiety or a psychological issue, in which case the treatment is targeted toward that disorder, but it could be lots of other things, too, like poor sleep hygiene or underlying medical problems.

If all else fails, doctors may prescribe chronic insomniacs with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or pharmacotherapy (medications/hypnotics).

Restless leg syndrome

Over 3 million Trusted source people in the United States may experience restless leg syndrome, which is when you have to move your legs before falling asleep. It’s characterized by an unpleasant sensation in the legs that causes you to shake them for relief. The treatment is medication.

REM sleep behavior disorder

This rare disorder, which affects about  less than one percent of adults, is when you’re active during REM (dream stage) sleep when you shouldn’t be. It could be an indication of future Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. For this disorder, a neuro specialist helps with treatment.


This disorder affects between 135,000 and 200,000 peopleTrusted Source in the United States. It’s characterized by falling asleep unexpectedly and oftentimes inappropriately, like during conversations or meetings at work. For this reason, those with it are usually not allowed to drive. It’s treated with a combination of drugs and prescribed naps.

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