The sleep cycle is studied nightly in Sleep Centers around the world, during a test called a polysomnogram. This test is one method used to identify a variety of possible culprits that can cause a sleep disorder. The test is usually done on an out-patient basis and generally involves:
Eleven EEG electrodes being glued or taped to the scalp
and face to pick up brain wave activity.
A device placed in or at the base of the nostrils to detect
A microphone placed on the neck to detect snoring.
An oximeter probe placed on a finger tip to monitor
Three EKG electrodes placed on the chest wall to monitor
Two EMG electrodes attached to the legs to monitor
movement or twitching.
Two, four inch wide flexible bands, placed snugly around
the chest and abdomen to monitor chest & abdominal
These are all plugged into a central cable to facilitate bathroom trips. The test subject is then told to go to sleep, preferably on their back!
The test is obviously not duplicating natural sleep in one's own bed and therefore not perfect, but it is currently recognized as the definitive test to confirm sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. However, it is expensive and not everyone is able to fall sleep or stay asleep. Most importantly, not everyone who has trouble sleeping needs a sleep study.
The following page lists the many signs, symptoms and related medical conditions of sleep disorders. Sadly, too often the sleep disorder is not detected until a medical catastrophe such as a heart attack or stroke occurs. By heeding the warning signs of a sleep disorder a more serious condition could be prevented.