Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most severe form of Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB), a condition that results from the obstruction of the oral and/or nasal airway during sleep. Snoring is a manifestation of the disorder at its most benign, although it does signify the onset or existence of a breathing problem during sleep. Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) is a small degree less severe than OSA, and is accompanied by gastroesophageal reflux, depression, and asthma.

An overnight PSG, or polysomnogram, is a good way to determine the severity of your Sleep Disordered Breathing problem. Polysomnography is simply a series of tests that are performed while a patient is asleep. A PSG records “channels,” which are different physiological processes, including taking note of blood pressure, performing electroencephalography (EEG), recording eye movements during REM sleep, monitoring any movement such as leg or arm jerks or shifts, night terrors, and apneic or hypopneic events.

Sleep lab technicians will monitor the progress of the tests throughout the night. They are skilled employees of the sleep lab, and are certified in the care of patients attending the sleep lab.

The patient spends the night in a sleep lab, a laboratory devoted solely to monitoring patients while they sleep. The patient is hooked up via sticky electrodes (attached painlessly with what looks like a bandage to the skin) to all the different apparati that will be monitoring the blood pressure, REM sleep, et cetera.

The patient is permitted to fall asleep. For some, this may be difficult. Many sleep labs have comfortable beds and take great care to provide a restful environment for the patient. In many sleep labs, parents are allowed to accompany their children to the sleep lab and may stay in the room with the child.

Some research suggests patients sleep in the sleep lab over a period of subsequent nights, so as to obtain the best and most realistic information possible concerning the patient’s sleep and the possible existence of Sleep Disordered Breathing.

Following the PSG, the physician associated with the sleep lab will examine the results, and will interpret the data collected. That information is passed on to the patient who then can take it to her primary care physician and her dentist to discuss diagnosis and treatment options.