Common Testing Methods Used For Sleeping Disorders

Even when you suspect you may have a sleeping disorder, you won’t know for certain until you undergo tests specifically designed to monitor your body while you are asleep. As more has been learned over the years about sleep apnea, numerous tests have been developed that offer very accurate assessments. If you want to be tested for a sleeping disorder, here are some tests you may undergo along the way.

Overnight Oximetry

This is a very popular first test to undergo if you suspect you may suffer from a sleeping disorder. When undergoing overnight oximetry, the biggest advantage is you do this test while you are at home asleep in your own bed. Using a probe that resembles a clothespin, the probe will be attached to either your finger or earlobe. As you sleep, the probe will constantly measure your heart rate and oxygen levels. Depending on the test results from your overnight oximetry, it may be suggested that you allow yourself to have more in-depth testing if sleep apnea is suspected.


If your overnight oximetry test results have you being evaluated further for a sleeping disorder, the next test you may find yourself taking is polysomnography, also known as a PSG. This test will have you spending the night at a state-of-the-art sleep center, where technicians will monitor your sleep while you are hooked up to various probes. During the night, technicians will monitor your eye and limb movements, respiration, oxygen level, heart rate, and muscle tone and will also have you hooked up to an EEG and EKG.

A video and audio recording of your sleep session will also be made, so keep this in mind. When you are asking questions about what is involved in a sleep apnea test and what it may find, you will be informed that a PSG can diagnose sleep apnea and other sleep disorders such as parasomnia and restless legs syndrome.

Multiple Sleep Latency Testing

Known as MSLT, this test is similar to a PSG and focuses mainly on excessive sleepiness during daylight hours. If you have undergone a PSG and complain of always being sleepy during the day when you are supposed to be wide awake, an MSLT will likely be conducted. Referred to as a nap study, you will spend the day at a sleep center, where technicians will have you go to bed and lie there for 15-20 minutes.

Should you fall asleep, technicians will monitor your REM sleep. After 20 minutes, you will be awakened. This process will be repeated every two hours, with the test-taking a total of 10 hours. The findings from an MSLT can be used to help diagnose sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or idiopathic hypersomnia, which is defined as being excessively sleepy for causes that are unknown.


A test that is conducted over weeks or perhaps months, an actigraphy has you wearing a watch-like device on your wrist. The purpose of the device will be to monitor your movements and track your circadian rhythms over a long period of time. As data is gathered, technicians and sleep specialists will assess your sleep-wake cycles to determine if problems exist. Should problems be found, you may be diagnosed with insomnia or other types of circadian rhythm disorders, such as delayed or advanced sleep phase syndrome.


Usually done at the same time you would undergo a PSG, a Titration study will have you wearing a CPAP mask while you sleep. As you sleep, technicians will slowly increase the level of CPAP pressure delivered through your mask. Once a pressure level is found that eliminates the episodes you have when you stop breathing as you sleep, this will be the pressure level prescribed for you to use with your CPAP device at home. The Titration study is considered to be an important component of sleeping disorder diagnostics since it has been found to help reduce cardiovascular complications resulting from sleep apnea.

Since getting a good night’s sleep is so critical to maintaining good health, don’t hesitate to learn more about the various testing methods now available to you. By doing so, you can get a proper diagnosis and begin immediate treatment.

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