45 CommentsHealth and Wellness, Life, Mental Health

bloodshot eyeAs I may have mentioned a time or two, chronic insomnia has plagued me for many years. Also well-known is the fact that I’m a dedicated night person whose creativity is at its peak when most “normal” people are fast asleep. This is not something I want to change per se, because I love the night. What needs to be fixed is the quality and duration of uninterrupted slumber. To paraphrase an old cliché, I’m tired of being tired, all the time! Rarely do I ever sleep more than two to three hours at a stretch without waking up. Going to bed early is a waste of time too, as that leaves me wide-eyed in the middle of the night. My doctor, convinced I have sleep apnea (I’m hoping not), has been nagging me for years to participate in a sleep study. “Do you snore?”, he keeps asking. Apparently I do, sometimes, according to my husband. (Let’s not talk about his snoring and how he has no trouble sleeping!) Allergies and chronic sinus problems, accompanied by post-nasal drip are some of my other annoying conditions and likely sources. After a particularly exhausting week, I finally relented, having no idea what to expect. “You’ll enjoy it”, said the nurse. “Just put on your jammies and think of it as a slumber party.” Yeah, right. Jammies? Never owned any, nightgowns being my preference. Next came the call from the sleep clinic. “Your appointment will be March 10. Check in at 8:30 p.m. and bring pyjamas. Also, go to our website and download your sleep diary. You’ll have to fill it in for a week before the appointment.”

What’s this now? Seriously, there’s homework?

sleep study diary

That’s right; you have to document caffeine and alcohol intake,
meal times, exercise (what type not specified), bed times, wake times,
sleep times including naps, overnight bathroom visits and get up times.

Other directives:

Prior to Your Test

• Clean Hair – Please wash your hair (shower/shave) before your sleep study. Do not use body lotion, hairspray, mousse or any other products on the day of your study because it may interfere with the proper application/adherence of the sensors.
• Nails – If you are wearing nail colour or artificial nails please be aware that it will need to be removed on one or more fingers to ensure proper monitoring of oxygen levels. • Caffeine – Please do not consume any caffeinated beverages after 3 pm the day of your study. • Alcohol – Do not consume any alcohol within 48 hours of your sleep study. • Naps – Do not nap on the day of your sleep study. • Medication – Take all prescribed medications unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. Do not take any “over the counter” medications on the day of your sleep study. • Meals – Eat a normal meal prior to your sleep study (there are no restrictions on eating). Meals are not provided at the clinic so you may wish to bring a snack and non-caffeinated beverage with you.

Please Bring the Following Items to Your Appointment

• All medications. • Pyjamas – Please bring 2-piece pyjamas or shorts and T-shirt to wear to bed, slippers and robe. • Any personal hygiene items such as a toothbrush and toothpaste. • A book, magazine, listening device such as Discman, ipod, etc. (something to do during non-sleep times). • Any non-caffeinated / non-alcoholic drinks or snacks you wish. • A change of clothes for the next day if needed (You will need to go home to shower following the test). • If using Nasal CPAP, bring your mask/head gear, tubing and CPAP machine with you. [Read more about CPAP, below.]
• Bring your completed Sleep Diary. This will become part of your chart.

What a shitload of instructions, yes? Not exactly conducive to relaxation!

Lacking the proper wardrobe, I improvised with a two piece track suit and spandex camisole. In hindsight, this was a mistake which made things more uncomfortable than they needed to be. More about that, later. My overnight bag included a bottle of water, notepad, pen, Samsung tablet loaded with ebooks and camera, nighttime asthma meds, dental hygiene stuff. hairbrush and kleenex. The thought of trying to sleep while hooked up to a tangle of wires was weighing on my mind, along with the creepiness of being watched the entire time.

sleep studies for insomnia

Questions kept running through my mind, adding to the trepidation:
What if I can’t sleep?
What if I have to pee?
How much privacy is there?
Deep breath! Time to go…..

sleep study roomThere was a small sitting area with a TV and three men waiting. Men? GASP! No makeup allowed, so I was trying to hide behind my hair. Silly and vain, I know, but it’s a natural reflex. Luckily, Zara, the Polysomnographic technologist had an amiable personality, which put everyone at ease. First task was filling out the inevitable paper work. Next came the “luxury suite”. Ha! Keep in mind, this was at the local hospital, which is efficient but more “no frills” than some of the private clinics. One thing I forgot was my neck pillow (for arthritis), but managed to improvise with a rolled up towel.

So, now comes the “fun” part – getting wired up! This is where my choice of wardrobe made things difficult. I needed to leave the jacket on for warmth, but the material was a bit thick, resulting in some minor discomfort with the chest band (looped under the arms). The electrodes on the scalp are messy, especially for those of us with long hair. Ick! I was debating whether to include this next photo, since I’m so vain and all, but, it is what it is. EEEK!sleep study - wired up

Particularly bothersome were the nose prongs (which were later fastened with tape), as I have trouble breathing anyway, thanks to the aforementioned sinus issues and asthma. This is getting more “thrilling” by the minute! By now it was 10:30 p.m. and Zara asked me to get into bed and lie on my back. She then disappeared and her disembodied voice echoed through the speaker above my head. “Move your left foot up and down, now the right, raise your left arm, now your right, move your eyes up and down, now left to right. Turn on your left side, now on your right.” Movements checked, it was lights out and I lay there for what seemed like hours, but was probably only 30 minutes. Suddenly, my right hand cramped up, no doubt from clenching! Sleep finally came, but a violent arm jerk woke me up with a start. Might have been a dream; I can’t recall. Dozed off again, then the inevitable happened. At 2:20 a.m., I needed to pee and called out to Zara. She unhooked me and I made my way to the bathroom, wires intact. Back to bed and much tossing and turning. That chest band and the nose prongs weren’t helping at all!

Next thing I remember is waking up at 5:15 a.m and Zara telling me my husband was there. He normally goes to work around 5 a.m. and decided to drop in, just in case I was done. “You can stay in bed longer if you like. Your husband said he’ll wait until you’re ready”. I was yearning to go home, so asked Zara if she had gathered enough information for the study. She said “yes” and came to liberate me. She also mentioned that my deepest sleep came after 3 a.m. and that I should be on the night shift. No surprise there! Zara referred me to the doctor when I asked about her findings. It could be a few weeks before he receives the completed report. I knew that, but took a shot, anyway. Here we go – more paperwork; a survey about the experience: Zara was great, bed was comfortable, I was not, arthritis was aggravating, no, I don’t want to do this again, etc. A quick face wash, hair brush and done!

Home, sweet home by 5:30 a.m. Tired, but also wired, I took a shower instead of going to sleep. There was electrode gel in my hair and residue elsewhere. That woke me up more, so I tended to the dogs’ breakfast, let them out and went online to see what’s new. By 8 a.m. my eyelids were drooping and I crashed. The day was pretty much a write-off after that, with another nap in the afternoon and back to bed by 11 p.m. Good thing I work from home and the clients are understanding! For the first time in years, I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed. Oh, to experience that again! Regularly seems like too much to hope for, but we’ll see what the prognosis is.

CPAP machine

Sleep apnea is one diagnosis I’m dreading, because there are only two possible options; surgery (!) or using a CPAP machine. Isn’t that sexy? I’ve never seen one close up, but know a few people who use them. CPAP is an acronym for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure”. People with apnea literally stop breathing for a few seconds during sleep, but are unaware of it. The purpose of the machine is to keep airways open using mild air pressure, thus eliminating the problem. It’s been said that those suffering from anxiety or claustrophobia (me, me!), might have trouble adjusting to this procedure. The reviews were mixed from the people I questioned. One uses it regularly and swears by it, another only occasionally, during periods of extreme fatigue. A third couldn’t handle it at all and still suffers from sleep deprivation.

At this point, given a choice, I’m thinking surgery may be a better option!
That said, if you’re having difficulty sleeping, why not consider doing a sleep study?
It may offer you a solution or at least, some answers.
[Bloodshot eye courtesy of]

Have you participated in one of these sleep studies
or are you considering it?

Looking forward to your comments!

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Debbie D.
Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as "The Doglady". Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal "hippie/rockchick". Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!
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  1. What happens if you can’t fall asleep or need a sleeping pill; do you happen to know?

    Thank you so much for posting this tail of sleep and snoring dogs. 😉

    1. Hi Chi Chi! 🙂 That’s a good question. They tell you take all of your usual prescription meds but not anything over-the-counter on the day of the study. If you don’t sleep at all, then they can’t get any data and would likely ask you to come back another time.

    2. The sleep doctor said I could take my prescription sleeping pill (I already had them from another clinic).
      I live in the SW United States. It gave me 4-5 hrs sleep in that strange place.

  2. Hi Debbie,

    Wow… Now this is interesting and I had no idea about the procedure of sleep studies. Muchas gracias for sharing your own experience on this and that photo dear (it’s nowhere near being awful though :)). Definitely come in handy for those who willing to go through and don’t know a thing about it 🙂

    I’m sorry about what you have been through though. ‘Cause they don’t sound cool if you ask me 🙂 Keeps me happy as long as I’m away from doctors and hospitals. I’m glad you take action to explore the solutions for a good long sleep. A brave soul, eh?

    For a period of time, I used to spend throughout the night until the morning or noon and sleep. But again I’ve set boundaries to myself to sleep early and wake up in the morning. Thankfully, now I can be either a night owl or early bird most of the time. Still… like you, I love the night 🙂 However, always had 7 – 8 hours of sleep, at least.

    Hope the solution is not far away for you, Debbie 🙂 Appreciate your tremendous courage and hopefully you will gonna have long night sleeps soon.

    You have a beautiful and relaxing weekend dear 🙂


    1. Good day, Mayura, old friend. Thank you for visiting and reading about the sleep study. Yes, it was quite an experience! Several people had expressed interest, so I thought this would be a good thing to talk about, horrible photo (thanks for your kind words about that!) and all. 🙂 Still waiting for the results, but I too hope it will offer some solution for me. I can’t imagine having 7-8 hours of sleep and envy you that. Going to bed early only results in my being wide awake in the middle of the night and that’s aggravating.
      Have a great week!

  3. Hi Debbie,

    I’m so glad you wrote about this. It’s something the doctors keep wanting me to do and I haven’t done it yet. It’s coming soon though as the sleep issues are not getting better but worse. It was nice to read and hear about how it all works. I feel like I can now kind of know what to expect. I really think this is a topic not many people touch and it was nice to hear about it.

    Hope you have a good rest of the week. My daughter gets her wisdoms out tomorrow so we will be taking a lazy day for rest for her.

    Take care.


    1. Nice to see you, Irish. 🙂 Several people expressed interest, which is why I decided to speak about it, publically. Glad you found it helpful. I’m still waiting for the results and will post those as well. My doctor was nagging me for years. Finally, I gave in, because like you, the situation has gotten worse. It’s the first step to finding a solution. Hope you find yours! Best wishes to your daughter. Dental issues can be so grueling! 😛 Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

  4. I should think most people wold find it difficult to sleep wired up like that in a strange place. It will be interesting to see what they have to say about you.

  5. It’ll be interesting to hear the results. I cannot imagine sleeping with nose prongs. Good lord. I need pitch black darkness, silence or soft classical music (I’m picky in my choices, too – not just someone else’s idea of “relaxing” music!), and cool air. Unfortunately, if it’s cold, I’m also more likely to have to get up to pee. But I can pretty much do that in my sleep (one of the advantages of being a woman who is able to find her way around in the dark). Even a little discomfort, though, and I’m like the Princess and the Pea. I cannot imagine how you slept at all.

    1. I have to get up to pee, whether it’s cold or not. 😛 Those nose prongs were so irritating! I did sleep some during the study, because I stayed up later than usual ~2:30 a.m. and got up earlier, so I was extremely tired. Thanks for reading about my ordeal. Apologies for the late response.

  6. Oh Debbie, this is so fascinating to me! I love that you’re being so proactive to learn what’s going with your rest and sleep and I truly hope you find what you’re looking for!

    1. I’m still waiting for the results and hope to find some relief. This has been a life-long affliction and I’m fed up with it now. Glad you found it interesting and thanks for visiting. Apologies for the late response.

  7. I’ll be very interested if you share the results. I have pretty much the same sleep pattern with my drive to sleep occurring after 3 a.m. According to my husband (a doctor, but not a sleep specialist), he thinks I have a Delayed Phase Circadian Rhythm Disorder. I think the main recommendation is—get a job on the 3 to 11 shift. 🙂

    1. Results will be shared, so stay tuned. 🙂 I agree with your recommendation and will look into that disorder. The technician more or less said the same thing. Thanks for the info. Hope that’s it, because wearing a machine would totally freak me out!

  8. Oh dear! It certainly doesn’t sound like fun. But I’m sure there’ll be relief to know what the issue is! Keep me posted, Debbie and I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

    1. No, not much fun, Corinne, but something to write about, anyway. LOL It will be a few weeks before I find out. I can’t stand the idea of wearing a mask on my face, though, so I hioe there’s another solution.

  9. Oh my! That’s quite an experience! Hope it all works well for you, Debbie. I must make my sister read this. I think, she suffers from chronic insomnia too!

    1. It was a unique experience, for sure and pretty uncomfortable, but hopefully it will result in a solution. I’m sorry your sister has sleeping difficulties as well. Maybe reading this will give her the incentive to seek help. I refused to do it for so long, but just couldn’t take the exhaustion any more.

  10. I sent you the video I did about my BiPAP (a fancier CPAP) along with my showing one type of mask. You’ll do fine, and for the most part you’ll feel better. I do feel better; I sleep better, but I still don’t sleep enough. These things can’t take care of everything. 🙂

    1. I watched it, Mitch. Thanks for sharing it. I have pretty much the same sleep issues you do, also since childhood. The sheets look like a war zone in the morning. As for the machine, my claustrophobic self was freaking out over that mask! And noise? That would be difficult, too. Waiting for the results now.

      1. There can be a thing about noise. I got the BiPAP because it’s much quieter. Sometimes I can sleep easily to that little bit of sound. When I can’t, I wear ear plugs. If you run a fan while you sleep for the noise, you’ll be fine. 🙂

        1. I love your positivity and I’m willing to give it a chance, if that’s the recommended course of action, but honestly, the whole idea is a huge turn off. Thanks again, Mitch. Nice to have some real online conversation, for a change.

  11. Wifey and I read all this together. She told me to be sure to let her know when the results come in. She got really caught up in the story… I was, typically, a little on the squeamish side. We are hoping for the best for you.

    1. I’ll keep you posted about the results. 🙂 Squeamish? Just a few wires fastened by gel and tape – no needles or otherwise invasive procedures. That was bad enough though! 😛 Thanks to you and wifey for your interest, Myke.

  12. Oh how I remember my sleep study! Yep, you nailed it. That’s exactly what I went through…except I didn’t have the clothing issue. i was darn comfortable. But being hooked up to all those wires and electrodes: yuk! I remember falling asleep right away (I brought a Planet Earth DVD and was watching underwater scenery so that might’ve had something to do with it). The test showed that I had a very mild mild case of sleep apnea and I did the CPAP for awhile but found it irritating. I could sleep with it on no problem, it was just a hassle. My mom could not use the CPAP at all. I do know of others who, like your friend, swear by it. The place I went was not in a hospital so the amenities were interesting: it looked like a bedroom and had antique furniture, a nice TV and DVD player. It was quite comfortable really. It was just weird sleeping someplace other than home and it was really weird coming out at 7:00 in the morning to head home! I’m glad you got that over with. Will be interested to see what your test results show. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Sounds like you had a nicer environment, at least. There was purposely no TV in the room, plus no internet or cell phone service at the hospital. I’m claustrophobic and the thought of putting a mask on totally freaks me out! I’m hoping there’s another solution for me, but we’ll see what the doctors says. Glad you enjoyed the post, Michele. 🙂

  13. My brother in law recently had to do a sleep study – he has aFIB and the doctors were suspecting it was caused by sleep apnea. My husband has lots of sinus issues (he has a sinus infection right now and gets at least one a year without even having a cold) and snores – I have a feeling he is going to end up with one of these sleep studies. I am reading this post with great interest, to get a “sneak preview” just in case. I’ve heard, not to be discouraging, that a lot of people can not tolerate the CPAP machine. I hope my brother in law can, if that becomes his fate.

    1. I hope your brother-in-law and husband get some relief, Alana. I read that people with claustrophobia may not adapt to the machine and that would include me. The very thought of putting on a mask freaks me out! In truth, I’d rather have surgery, but we’ll see what the outcome is. Glad you found this post of interest.

  14. I’ve never done a sleep study and from what you describe I don’t think I’d want to. A dream study might be interesting, but really I don’t like sleeping (or trying to sleep) in a strange environment that is of an institutional nature.

    Love that question “Do you snore?” My wife claims I do, but I hope I don’t snore as much as she does.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host

    1. It was not the most pleasant of experiences, Lee and I only agreed to it after much nagging from the doctor. Yes, the snoring question is rather funny. How do you know whether you snore or not? 😀 I think most people do, especially in later years.

  15. My friend uses the CPAP machine although he has a different acronym for the letters. What an ORDEAL. Bottom line — hope you get some help. Your life will improve dramatically if you can get some much needed sleep and REST. I cannot relate at all but try to imagine what it would be like and I think it would be pretty awful. I go to bed, go to sleep, get up. In that order, same every night – about 6 – 7 hours uninterrupted. Hopefully you too can realize that luxury some day.

    1. I can think of a few less than complimentary acronyms, Carol. 🙂 My claustrophobic self is freaking out at the very idea of wearing a mask. Hope there’s a different solution! I so envy you and others who can sleep well. This has plagued me since childhood. It would be wonderful to wake up feeling refreshed. Truly a luxury!

  16. Hi Debbie. Interesting experience to day the least. 🙂 When do you find out the results? I wouldn’t be able to have a normal sleep. I can’t sleep in jammies so they wouldn’t get an accurate reading of me. 🙂


    1. Oh yeah; it was interesting, Bren. LOL I don’t have any jammies either and I doubt anyone can sleep normally with all those wires attached. I should know the results in a couple of weeks.

  17. I’ve decided I really don’t have that many sleep problems. I don’t have asthma or allergies, but I do have an over-active brain at times, and also achiness from arthritis. I find taking Ibuprofen PM works fine. When I’m normal (not now during the chemo), I usually go to bed at 9:00, stay in bed for six hours, which is the length of time the PM part works. I don’t go to sleep immediately, though. Then after 3 or 4 o’clock I usually go back to sleep and get up around 6:00. People at the hospitals are always asking me if I have sleep apnea and I say “No!” and they look skeptical. Then I tell them that I never sleep on my back, I never wake myself up snorting, and I clench my teeth so that I have to wear a night guard – dentist says I’ll ruin my teeth otherwise. So I think my problems are just the opposite. Good luck with your diagnosis, Debbie!

    1. I can relate to the over-active brain and arthritis too, Lorinda. “Sleep apnea” has become somewhat of a generic diagnosis these days and I’m not entirely convinced this is my problem either, but we’ll see what happens. I have an aversion to taking pills and always find they come with side effects, like constipation. Thanks for sharing your experiences and for the good wishes. 🙂

  18. Debbie I think this is the most honest and candid report I’ve read on this subject. I loved that you posted your photo. Lol… and despite being so vain. It makes you all the more lovable. My husband has sleep apnea, and I’m so grateful that he can be helped. The alternatives, like a stroke, make us both grateful for modern medicine. I hope you can be helped. You sure are on your way to finally getting a good nights rest. You’ll love it.

    1. Well, I have to admit, it took me awhile to summon up the courage to post that awful photo. LOL I can’t imagine using that machine at all, because I have issues with claustrophobia, but, we’ll see what the recommendations are. Glad to know your husband is getting help. Last time I experienced a good night’s rest was after the sleep study. It would be wonderful to have that regularly!

  19. Interesting experience Debbie… Science has progressed so much… I think I’ll have to re-read this post to grasp everything but truly must have been an unique experience

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