Wired for sleep

The sleep technician told me that by the time she was done hooking me up for the sleep study, I would look like a suicide bomber. Do I? (I imagine they avoid putting wires on their faces; it would call way too much attention to them.)

She took the picture for me on my cell phone, and it didn’t come out very clearly, but you can see the multitude of wires that she had connected to my head, chest, and legs. You don’t actually wear that box during the night, but it has to be portable like that (it’s hanging on a loop around my neck) so that you can get up during the night to go to the bathroom, as I had to.

Not surprisingly, it took a while to get to sleep, between being in an unfamiliar bed and having all that stuff connected to me. (At one point I did manage to dislodge the wire under my nose that was supposed to monitor if I stopped breathing.) But by morning I was surprisingly comfortable and felt reasonably well-rested.

The doctor will have to review the report, but the technician said I would probably be diagnosed with sleep apnea. I remember waking up twice, but she said I woke up quite a few times. My oxygen saturation level, which is supposed to be at least 95%, dipped to 86% once, and more often to 90%. For a couple hours I had few “incidents” (I’m not sure exactly what defines an incident), but at other times I had one after another.

I didn’t read up about sleep studies ahead of time, since I wasn’t worried about what it would be like. But now that it’s done (for now – there will likely be a follow-up study using a CPAP machine), I find it very interesting to find out what all those wires were doing.

The electrodes on my head measured brain waves. Electrodes around my eyes recorded eye movements. Electrodes around my chin measured muscle tone. And the ones on my torso measured my heart rate. The straps around my chest and abdomen monitored muscle movement during breathing. The sensors on my legs detected leg movements.

The one that surprised me was the sensor on my finger. I had assumed it was measuring my pulse, but now I read that it is what measured my blood oxygen level. I had noticed the red light in the sensor, but I had thought of it as being similar to the indicator lights on my computer. Apparently, however, it is an infrared device, measuring the color of the blood through the fingernail (more blue = less oxygen).

But as interesting as it was, I’m looking forward to spending tonight in my own bed.

5 Responses to Wired for sleep

  1. Karen O says:

    I have a friend who uses a CPAP machine. I can’t see how anyone can sleep with one of those things on! I guess you’d get used to it.

  2. modestypress says:

    Welcome to the club. I went through a similar study several years ago and was provided with a CPAP machine, which I got fairly used to by now, though some people evidently have great difficulty. I suspect you will do fine.

  3. Margaret says:

    My husband has been wearing a CPAP for several months now, and he does fairly well with it, although it always comes off while he is asleep (or else he removes it in his sleep) and he has to put it back on. Or the hose comes loose. For me the worst thing is the beep sound it makes when it turns on or off. I have very sensitive ears, and it disrupts my sleep. Does anyone know if they make them without the beep?

  4. modestypress says:

    I have a Remstar from Respironics. It doesn’t seem to beep. However, it has other irritating characteristics. Perhaps you should consider ear plugs. My wife uses them at times.

  5. Margaret says:

    Sorry, I forgot to mention that ear plugs cause a feeling of pressure in my ears. (I have very sensitive skin in general.) But I will have to inquire about other possibilities.

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