The consequences of untreated sleep disorders go far beyond feeling tired and irritable during the day. Chronic sleep problems increase the risk of serious, potentially-fatal health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease, and many others.
Fortunately, advances in technology and increased knowledge about the causes of sleep problems are making it easier to diagnose a patient’s sleep difficulties with greater accuracy and precision than ever. The doctors at Bumrungrad’s Sleep Lab use state-of-the-art technology and equipment to diagnose and treat sleep disorders . Here they provide their expertise to answer questions about in-lab sleep studies.
Q: When does a patient need an in-lab sleep study?
A: Patients who are having difficulty sleeping would typically see their doctor for an examination. Sometimes the problem is simply that their home environment isn’t conducive to quality sleep, or perhaps they are dealing with a stressful work situation that can be resolved through lifestyle changes.
But in cases where other treatments have been tried but prove to be ineffective, or if the doctor suspects the possibility of sleep apnea or another undiagnosed condition, that is generally the appropriate situation to proceed with an overnight sleep study in a sleep lab.
Q. What is the process for arranging a sleep study?
A: At Bumrungrad’s Sleep Lab, our patients come to us first for a consultation about sleep problems they are having. This way every patient is evaluated by us before it can be determined if a sleep study is necessary. We would then schedule the study based on the results of the evaluation and availability of the Sleep Lab.
Q: How is the actual sleep study conducted?
A: There is a private suite in the lab for the patient to sleep while a camera enables us to observe the patient from our monitoring area, where we access data on vital signs, heart rate, and brain wave activity. If the patient has trouble falling sleep, we may prescribe a mild sedative to help with sleep.
We also equip the patient with a small tube in the nose which measures air flow and carbon dioxide levels. Next to the bed, a microphone has been installed that enables us to track and observe snoring and other sounds throughout the study.
Q: How long does it take to receive the results of the study?
A: The study data is gathered and processed in real time while the patient is asleep, so in the morning the doctor is able to review the findings with the patient and discuss the various treatment options. This quick turnaround of results is especially helpful for patients who are pressed for time.
Q: What do patients find most surprising after the sleep study?
A: Some patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea after the study express a great deal of surprise about having the condition — it’s hard for them to believe that it’s possible for their breathing to stop during sleep without them becoming aware of what’s taking place.
In very serious cases of sleep apnea, a patient will stop breathing for as long as two minutes, and their oxygen level can fall by almost half, which explains why some people don’t feel refreshed after a night’s sleep.
The drop in oxygen puts a considerable strain on the heart and can lead to numerous other health problems, many of which are very serious.
Q: Does sleep apnea require treatment? If so, how is it usually treated?
A: Sleep apnea is a serious condition that should not be left untreated. The most common treatment involves a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device — CPAP, for short.
In about 90 percent of the in-lab sleep studies we conduct, once we have gathered sufficient data to indicate sleep apnea, a CPAP will be used for the remainder of the study. For the majority of patients, the CPAP enables easier breathing and reduces or stops the snoring. The next morning, patients feel more rested and refreshed.
For most patients diagnosed with sleep apnea, we would recommend the CPAP be used continuously when the patient sleeps.
The Sleep Lab at Bumrungrad International Hospital
For more information, or to make an appointment for a consultation, call the Sleep Lab at +66 2011 6910, request an appointment through Bumrungrad’s online appointment system, or send an inquiry by e-mail.