Tests for Sleep Disorders & Sleep Problems

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There are various types of investigations that can be carried out to diagnose your sleeping disorder.  These can be carried out in sleep centres in which you will sleep in an individual room which resembles a bedroom. You are made to feel as comfortable as possible and you will be monitored all through the night by qualified nurses and technicians. Some sleep centres will have equipment that will allow sufferers of certain sleep disorders to take the devices home with them to monitor their sleep from the comfort of their own home.


Polysomnography involves several different tests during the sleep. An electroencephalogram monitors brain-wave activity, an electro-oculogram monitors the activity of the eyes and an electromyogram monitors muscle activity. Other behaviours of the sleeper are also monitored, such as the breathing, whole body movements and oxygen concentration in the blood.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)

Multiple Sleep Latency Test measures the amount of daytime sleepiness and can be conducted after an overnight Polysomnography at a sleep centre. The patient will be taken into a darkened room in the sleep centre during the day and encourage to relax and fall asleep. Electronic sensors will then monitor the patient and as soon as they fall asleep and when they are woken up again. This is repeated up to 5 times during the day with several hours in-between each test. The vital measurement that is taken is the time the patient takes to fall asleep i.e. the “sleep latency” - the time between which the patient lies down and falls asleep. If it takes around 15-25 minutes, this is considered normal and the patient is unlikely to be suffering from sleep deprivation. Anything below this could signify a sleep disorder, and the quicker they fall asleep the more chance they are suffering from severe sleep deprivation. However, there will be some oddities in these tests, and some people will defy the averages as some have the ability to just fall asleep at the click of their fingers!

Wakefulness Test

The Wakefulness Test is very similar to the multiple sleep latency test, but the patient is instead encouraged to stay awake for a certain period of time. Again, this is repeated 3-4 times throughout the day but should be conducted before a polysomnography, not after. This test can be used to analyse the success of the patient’s treatment for their daytime sleepiness. 

Oxford Sleep Resistance Test

The Oxford Sleep Resistance is just one example of tests conducted to monitor the vigilance of the sufferer. The sufferer is asked to complete tasks that involve high levels of concentration, and will assess whether the patient is capable of driving and so forth.


Actigraphy could be described as a more efficient method of noting the time awake and the time asleep than a sleep diary. The patient will wear an actigraph which often comes in a watch-like form, to be worn on the wrist or ankle. This then monitors periods of sleep and wakefulness over 24 hours. This is often used for people who are suffering from circadian rhythm disorders.

There are many tests available to assess your sleeping disorder, and with such specific and scientific equipment, the right test and treatment can usually be efficiently found.

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