12 December 2014

My Sleep Study

➡ I had a sleep study 6–7 October but am only now telling the story.

◦ Although I had been told that if I didn’t show up for the test or if I canceled it too late I’d be charged two hundred dollars, I had been told little else about the sleep study in advance. For example, I had not been informed ahead of time that I’d have a private room in which I’d be able to change clothing, so I wore loose clothing in which I intended to sleep.

◦ The technician attached a tremendous number of polysomnography wires to me, mostly to my head, some of which were fed down my shirt or my trousers leading into a box that looked like a telephone switchboard.

◦ I had been assigned a room soon after I’d arrived, but after all the wires were attached, I was instructed to sit and watch television for a number of hours before the test would begin. (I watched Antiques Roadshow.) Although I had access to a toilet and to drinking water, I was expected to be at the clinic many hours without having access to any food.

◦ When the time for the test finally came, I got in bed and the technician spoke to me from another room, apparently testing the connections: “Look to the left. Now look to the right. Now move your left leg. Now grind your teeth. Now slower.” We went through the same routine in the second part of the test and I didn’t understand why grinding my teeth was the only thing I needed to do at two different speeds until I realized she had not said “Now slower” but had instead said with an accent “Now snore.”

◦ I wasn’t allowed to sleep on my belly, the position that allows me to breathe most easily when horizontal, but only on my side or back, so I had some difficulty falling asleep. Eventually, I got into some pretty good dreaming but the technician abruptly walked in to begin part two of the test.

◦ She fitted me with a CPAP mask and left the room again. I was on my back the rest of the time, so I had to strive to keep my mandible forward in order to breathe properly, and I actually felt myself stop breathing a few times before finally falling asleep. Needless to say, because I was in a position in which I have some difficulty breathing even when awake, and because I only had about half the night remaining, I didn’t sleep very much. At the setting used, the CPAP machine seemed to have at most a negligible positive effect. I thought the technician might occasionally enter the room and alter the CPAP pressure but she did not.

◦ After barely sleeping the entire night, I was awakened in the morning, given a survey form to fill out and then discharged. Despite the conductive gel still in my hair, one of my first priorities when back in my home neighborhood (after running into a number of friends) was to eat.

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