Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sleeping During a Sleep Study, Really?

There was a last minute cancellation at the sleep clinic and off I went Tuesday night to be wired, taped and bound for my study. I was having this study completed as my sleep pattern over the last two or so years has become more erratic. Rapid heartbeat and palpitations can pop up on occasion causing me to wake from sleep more often then I care to admit. While it is not a constant occurrence, it made sense to have a baseline test conducted just to make sure sleep apnea was not involved.

I arrived at the center at a little past 9:30PM, was shown to my room and told to get changed for bed, fill out a brief questionnaire and wait to get wired up for sleep. The room, while not homey, was comfortable. A queen size bed and nightstands, small flat screen TV, large multi- media player, dresser and chair made it feel a bit like a motel room, but luckily, not of the seedy variety.

The process of wiring me up took about 15 or so minutes and the result was that I looked much like an android from a sci-fi movie, in for a tuneup and repairs. My head was thickly gooped up in places for all manner of wires and tape to be attached, as were my face, ears, chest, and legs. These wires were to measure brain activity, leg movement and determine when my actual REM sleep was occurring. My chest was strapped in two places in order to monitor my heart activity. I also had a box, about the size of 3 decks of cards, on a  strap that I was supposed to carry with me to the bathroom or whenever I needed to walk. And as if this was not enough, two different slender tubes on hoses were placed just under and in my nose to measure my breath, monitor snoring, and in general to insure I was indeed breathing during the night. 

After all this is completed,  I was escorted to my room, and asked what time I prefer to have the lights out. I then was literally plugged in and asked to go through a series of eye and leg movements to make sure the equipment was working properly. After a few adjustments and a reassurance from the sleep technician that I could indeed sleep in any position, I opted to get things moving along since I knew it was probably going to take me a long, long time to fall asleep.

Oh, by the way, did I mention the video camera on the ceiling, high in the corner opposite the bed,  where the tech can view you in all your glory as you attempt to sleep? Oddly enough I found this aspect of the study to be the least annoying. What I found most difficult were the wires attached to my legs which did not give me room to move and stretch out on my side. This felt restrictive and confining as I was unable  to place my body in my favorite sleep positions. Three times technicians had to come in to replace the wires. The final time they resorted to using strong tape. I am not sure why they did not do this the first time since clearly it was needed. The other thing that woke me frequently is that every time I flipped my body from side to side I had to move wires out of my way to stretch out my arm.

It was a rather rough night.

When the technician woke me at 5:30 AM and entered the room she mentioned my having a tough night of sleep. I asked her who is able to come in and NOT have a rough night? She laughed and agreed. She quickly took off my wires. I did my best to scrub off the residual goop and was on my way home in time to snuggle with my son and see him off to school. Then after eating a light breakfast I promptly went back to bed and slept for 3 hours.

Full test results will arrive within a week or two, but the good news is no sleep apnea and my heart rate was pretty steady. Snoring was soft too. So this places all my sleep disturbances back in the realm of perimenopause symptoms, which I indeed suspected was the culprit. The rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone cause the heart to behave rather erratically during this transitional phase in a woman's life. As though we don't have it tough enough ladies, or so said my sleep technician!

So I am comforted at the fact no large breathing apparatus is required for my sleep, but have to admit, sometimes I wish menopause would hurry up and get here already. The erratic ups and downs are for me, and many women like me, a roller coaster ride. And I don't like roller coasters. But......I am learning to make the most of it as this is my life and it is up to me to make it work in the best way I can manage. Life is all about change and it just makes sense to let it happen, then let is pass, because what I am feeling today is not what I will be feeling a day, week, month or year from now.

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