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Sleep Disorders and Aging (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care for Sleep Disorders

Occasional insomnia is normal. If you have insomnia on a regular basis, you should see your health care provider about it. Nightly insomnia lasting more than a few nights warrants a visit to your health care provider.

Exams and Tests for Sleep Disorders

A complete medical interview and physical examination are important. Your health care provider will ask you questions about your symptoms, lifestyle, and habits. You may be asked about your current and past medical problems and medications. You will probably be asked to keep a sleep diary for several days or weeks. You will write down the times you wake up and go to sleep. Your bed partner may be asked about your actions during sleep. After the interview, your health care provider may know what causes your sleep problem. You may also be referred to a sleep specialist. An underlying medical or mental problem warrants referral to the appropriate specialist.

Sleep evaluation

You may be asked to stay overnight at the sleep disorders center's laboratory. A full-night polysomnogram records several different body functions while you sleep.

  • Electroencephalography (EEG) - Brain waves
  • Electrooculography (EOG) - Eye movements
  • Electromyography (EMG) - Chin muscle tension and leg movements
  • Electrocardiography (ECG) - Heart rate and rhythm
  • Pulse oximetry - Blood oxygen saturation level

You may be hooked up to a portable recorder rather than stay overnight at the center.

  • The portable recorder is placed on your body in the afternoon, and you are then sent home to sleep in your own bed, or you may be instructed on how to place and activated it.
  • These recorders are more convenient and often less expensive than a laboratory polysomnogram. They have been shown to be just as effective in many cases for diagnosing and initiating treatment for obstructives sleep apnea.
  • Portable studies are not appropriate for the evaluation of sleep disorders other than obstructive sleep apnea.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2016
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