The Sleep Center is very security conscious since people come and go at odd hours. My appointment started at 9 PM and I left at about 7AM. To get in after 5 PM, you have to get buzzed through the outer door after announcing yourself. The main door leads to a small exterior courtyard, primarily a smoking area, which then leads to the door into the Sleep Center. There is a small parking area specifically for the Sleep Center by the main door.
When I arrived, I was led to the room I would be sleeping in to change into my bed clothes. The room was very comfortable. The bed was queen size. I brought my own pillows, but there were plenty there if I hadn't. There was also a small private bathroom with a shower attached. I brought my favorite book to reread, but there was a television in the room if you prefer to watch until you're sleepy. The camera that watched me while I slept was mounted over the door and pointed at the bed.
After I signaled that I had finished changing by opening the door to the room, the nurse came to go over the sleep questionnaire that I had completed ahead of time and brought with me, then wire me up for the study. It takes abuot 20 minutes to get wired. I had the nurse take this picture of me all wired up. It looks uncomfortable, but it's not too bad. You can turn easily in bed. Most of the inconvenience is in the sticky gel under the pads that you have to get off the next day. The belts around your chest and abdomen to measure breathing are fairly loose.
Normally, they monitor you for about 2 hours, then wake you up to start you on a CPAP or BiPAP with a mask if it shows you need it. A CPAP uses continuous air pressure. A BiPAP uses different levels of air pressure for breating in than for breathing out. At first, using the mask was like trying to fall asleep with my head out the car window. Now that I'm used to it, I find it easier to sleep with a mask than without one. The Positive Air Pressure helps to keep your airway open while you sleep. During my first study, I was waking up every three minutes to breathe. Without using my CPAP, I don't get much REM sleep. I tend to be a bit confused and tired all the time, which, as well as being unconfortable and unhealthy, interfered with my ability to my job.
Although I ususally got to sleep after midnight, I fell asleep at about 10:30 PM because I had been exercising earlier out taking photographs of bees and butterflies. When I don't use my CPAP machine I sleep very lightly. I woke up about 1:30 AM hearing a voice in the corridor and my index finger was itching due to the oxygen monitor taped to it, which doesn't show in the photograph. I took off the tape, let my finger air a bit, then put it back on. After reading for about half an hour, I fell back asleep. I had to measured longer than usual to capture enough REM sleep without the mask. When it was time to put the nose mask on, the nurse came in and removed the breathing monitor in my nose, then I wore a nose mask the rest of the night. At 7 AM, the nurse woke me up. It took a few minutes to get all of the wires off. She helped wipe off some of the water solubale gel, but I was eager to get home and take a shower, although I could have taken one there. I got dressed and headed home. It'll take at least a week to get the results of my sleep study. She did say that needed lower air pressure than the level that my CPAP is currently set to. It's important to not use too much pressure because that can also induce another type of sleep apnea called Central Apnea. I'll make and appointment to go see my doctor n a couple of weeks to review the results and have my CPAP machine adjusted.
Having my sleep apnea diagnosed and using my CPAP machine has made a very important difference in my life. I am alert and clear-headed during the day and have much more energy to enjoy life. I encourage anyone who feels overly tired during the day to get themselves checked for sleep apnea and make the effort to get used to sleeping with a mask if needed.