Initially I fall asleep quickly, sleep soundly for about on hour or two, wake up and think it is morning and then have difficulty falling back to sleep. I play scrabble or a card game on my I pad until I get drowsy again. I know, I know, that this is a no -no for good sleeping habits–but you can’t teach a somewhat sleep deprived person with old ingrained rituals, new tricks.I wake up numerous times during the night. A bonus is that I get exercise walking back and forth to the wash room or the kitchen. Perhaps I should purchase a fitbit tracker. Who knows I may discover that I accumulate so many steps at night that it might not be necessary for me to walk during the day. Because of my sporadic sleep pattern I am often tired during the day. My doctor suggested that perhaps I should participate in a sleep study, especially when I told her my embarrassing secret that I sometimes wake myself up with a soft feminine snort or a snore.
Overnight sleep studies are often used by physicians to determine and ultimately treat the quality of an individuals sleep and uncover and evaluate sleep disorders such as neurological, breathing and abnormal movement such as restless leg. My doctor set up an appointment for me at a sleep clinic. The clinic mailed me an information sheet of what to bring and what to expect.
I agonized over what to pack to sleep in and finally decided on a velour track suit even though Toronto was experiencing a heat wave. Why did I decide on this? I like to be warm at night and a couple people told me that the clinic where they went was freezing and no extra blankets were available. I was glad I did. I was amazed, as was my friend who drove me, to see snow, yes SNOW outside the facility. The mystery was solved when we realized that the clinic was next door to an indoor skating arena. Instructions were to arrive at 8:30 P.M and enter through the night time exit and to wait in the parking lot for the technologist if the door was locked. The door was locked.We waited for him to come.
I was the first patient to arrive. Soon the others showed up. They were all men. I was assigned a room with a bed and a sink. Shared washroom facilities were down the hall. I filled out a questionnaire, was weighed and measured and attached with electrodes to the scalp, head chest and legs for the purpose of measuring brainwaves, heart rate, and eye movements. The electrodes were affixed to my body parts by very, very sticky icky paste. A sensor was placed by my nose and mouth to measure air flow, and a clip attached to my finger to measure blood oxygen levels. The electrodes were connected to a device beside my bed that relayed signals to the control room. I was also being videotaped and felt like a movie star doing a horror movie.
I was told I could sleep in any position I wanted. Right. The darn wires kept getting in the way.I was actually amazed I was able to sleep at all . Maybe it was because I was exhausted mentally and physically. It was a busy week and I had attended a funeral that afternoon . It didn’t help that it poured at the cemetery–Or maybe it was because I knew if I didn’t sleep this horrendous undertaking would be for nothing. Apparently a minimum of six hours is required for an accurate sleep study. I don’t think I slept quite that long but I refuse to repeat the test. In the middle of the night I think my knee dislocated and caused severe pain before it went back into place. The pain only lasted a couple minutes but during those couple of minutes, I thought I would never be able to walk again.
The written instructions that I had received in the mail said that I was to leave the clinic at 7:00 AM. This was the time I told my chauffeur/slash/friend to pick me up. At 5:15 the technician came in and told me to get up and dress quickly. I said I wasn’t being picked up until seven. I was informed that he was closing the clinic early that day and I would have to wait outside for my lift. Yikes. I was reluctant to phone to be picked up earlier. I didn’t want to wake anybody. but I did call around 6 because I certainly wasn’t thrilled with the idea of waiting outside alone in that desolate deserted industrial strip mall.My friend was awake but his cellphone woke up his wife. She hurried her husband out the door. She also didn’t want me waiting by myself. Both husband and wife are long time good friends and have big hearts. He arrived a few minutes after the clinic was closed.
I was sensitive to the tape and I arrived home to discover that I had red splotches here and there and every where. The worst splotches were on my face. They have pretty well receded but even though I have shampooed my hair twice , I am still pulling sticky paste, that was used to attach the electrodes, off of my scalp.I have a follow up appointment in a few weeks to discuss the results.