The only way for sleep apnoea to be reliably diagnosed is by a sleep study. These will measure your ability to sleep during several different trials. You won’t have to do very much beyond sleeping or napping normally, but you’ll still need to prepare properly.
People often worry about whether they need to change their sleeping patterns prior to taking part in a sleep study. This often prompts them to deprive themselves of sleep the night before due to a worry about failing to sleep during the study itself. This is a natural concern, but try to sleep as you would normally the night before you come in. The only thing you should avoid is having a nap on the day of the test, even if this is something which you do frequently.
You should also avoid drinking anything which contains caffeine – such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks – on the day of the study, especially after you’ve had breakfast. Alcohol should also be avoided. Both substances can change your sleeping patterns, and even make the symptoms of sleep disorders appear worse.
You should also wash and dry your hair, since electrodes will be attached around your scalp. However, don’t use any hairsprays, oils, gels, or waxes after you’ve done so. While you’re in the bathroom, take the time to remove any nail polish from your index fingers.
Now that you’re prepared, you’ll want to know what to bring. All you really need is a pair of bed clothes – preferably two-piece pyjamas – as well as all the toiletries you would normally need during the day and a change of clothes for the day after your study. You may also like to bring a book to read during non-sleep periods. Mobiles, tablets, and laptops may be used, but the bright screens will sometimes impact your ability to fall asleep, so a book is generally preferable.
You’ll also need to bring any medications, and will probably need to have notified your sleep specialist in advance that you are taking them. This includes both prescription and non-prescription drugs – even medicines for the common cold. You may need to taper off before the study can take place, but always talk to your doctor before doing so.
Once you arrive, you’ll be shown the room and given a run-down of the procedure. Then you’ll mostly just need to sit back and sleep.