What is a Sleep Clinic?

A sleep clinic is an outpatient facility where people who suffer from sleep problems visit to seek help. This help may be in form of:

  • diagnostic tests
  • treatments
  • advice

Sleep clinics usually operate as separate and independent entities. However, some sleep clinics are incorporated into larger hospital settings or clinical facilities. Others are managed by:

  • colleges
  • universities
  • research institutions

Purpose of Sleep Clinics

The main objective of sleep clinics is to conduct studies aimed at diagnosing sleep disorders such as:

  • narcolepsy
  • apnea
  • restless legs syndrome
  • abnormal nighttime behaviors
  • periodic limb movement disorder

These disorders are often difficult to identify during a normal visit to the hospital, so a doctor will propose a sleep study to get an accurate diagnosis.

How Patients Prepare for Sleep Clinics

A patient who has an appointment with a sleep technologist must prepare in advance for the study. Patients should try to avoid naps so that going to sleep will be easier during the study. They should avoid using things like conditioners, hair gels and sprays two days before the time of the appointment. These substances are known to reduce the efficiency of electrodes used during the study. Patients are also required to:

  • remove nail polish
  • have paperwork given ahead of time
  • eat a proper meal
  • notify the clinic if they have any special needs

What Happens During a Sleep Study

A sleep study is a non-invasive and safe overnight examination that allows a technologist to monitor the patient while he sleeps to determine what is happening in his body and brain. The patient will be taken to a room designed for overnight stays. The sleep technologist will collect the patient’s medical history as well as some vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure.

After that, the technologist will hook the patient up to various equipment to monitor and measure the activities of his body and brain while he sleeps. This will include:

  • wires with electrodes attached to the scalp near the chin to measure muscle activities
  • two elastic belts tied around the stomach and chest to measure breathing
  • a heart monitor to measure the breathing rate

The technologist will also use a three-lead ECG machine to monitor heart rhythm and a small microphone attached to the throat to detect snoring.

Once the patient has been hooked up to all the machines, the sleep technologist will monitor the data generated by the equipment from another room and prepare a detailed report.

Becoming a Sleep Technologist

As a sleep technologist, you will be required to:

  • hook up patients to the sleep study equipment
  • calibrate the equipment
  • monitor the data they generate

In order to become a sleep technologist, you must complete 80 hours of lectures and clinical training in a Sleep Technology Approved Resource (STAR) program. You must also earn at least an associate’s degree in polysomnography to increase your job prospects. You also need a certification as a Registered Polysomongraphic Technologist (RPT).

Sleep clinics are increasingly becoming popular due to the numerous cases of sleep disorders, particularly among the older generation. The items discussed in the post above will give you some useful insights on what actually goes on in a sleep clinic and how this facility helps patients get the right diagnosis for their sleep disorders.

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