Common Testing Methods for Sleeping Disorders

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Most people never believe they have sleeping problems until they experience the consequences. Poor sleep can lead to car accidents, work errors, and relationship problems. It causes or worsens chronic health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, and depression. It’s advisable to have quality sleep to avoid all these problems.

Unfortunately, some individuals experience sleep problems without knowing it unless someone tells them they snore or walk in their sleep. Such people feel tired during the day but can’t understand the reason. 

The best way to diagnose a sleep disorder is through a medical evaluation by a sleep specialist. To get a diagnosis and understand your problem better, your doctor will ask about your sleep habits and symptoms. They may also recommend one or more of the following tests:


A sleep study is also called a polysomnogram, a test used to diagnose sleep disorders. The test takes place overnight in a sleep lab. During the test, the doctor places sensors on the head, face, chest, and legs to record brain activity, heart rate, eye movements, and muscle activity. The data from the sensors determines if a person has a sleep disorder.

Polysomnography is the gold standard for diagnosing sleep disorders. The test diagnoses obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy. Specialists use it to assess the severity of sleep disorders and monitor treatments’ effectiveness.


Actigraphy is a sleep disorder test that uses an actigraph device to track a person’s sleep patterns. The patient wears the actigraph on the wrist like a watch and measures the activity level during sleep. 

The data collected helps diagnose sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea symptoms. Actigraphy is a non-invasive and painless sleep disorder test; however, doctors use it with other tests, such as polysomnography, to diagnose sleep disorders.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test

The Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) is a sleep disorder test that assesses how quickly you fall asleep during the day and helps diagnose narcolepsy, a condition that causes excessive daytime sleepiness. 

The test involves spending four or five sessions in a quiet room where the doctor asks you to take brief naps at regular intervals. What is recorded is how long you will take time to fall asleep, and the results are used to determine whether you suffer from narcolepsy. 

The MSLT is the standard for diagnosing narcolepsy used together with other tests, such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. The test has helped millions of individuals who sleep excessively during the day.

Maintenance of Wakefulness Test

MWT, or The Maintenance of Wakefulness Test, is a sleep disorder test used to help diagnose narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, and other sleep disorders that cause excessive daytime sleepiness. The test consists of four 40-minute sessions conducted for one day. 

During each session, the specialist asks the patient to try to stay awake in a dark and quiet room. The MWT is a valuable tool for diagnosing sleep disorders because it can help to rule out other potential causes of excessive daytime sleepiness, such as sleep apnea or depression. 

In addition, the MWT can help identify individuals at risk for developing Narcolepsy Type 2, a condition characterized by an increased need for nighttime sleep. In addition, the MWT is an essential part of the diagnostic process for many individuals with sleep disorders.

CPAP/BiPAP Titration

A CPAP/BiPAP titration test is a sleep study used to determine the best settings for your CPAP or BiPAP machine. The test takes place overnight in a sleep lab, where a sleep technician will monitor you. During the test, the doctor uses CPAP/BiPAP machine with sensors that measure your heart rate, oxygen levels, and brain waves.

The sleep technician will then gradually increase the air pressure until your breathing is normal and you are no longer snoring. The goal of the test is to find the lowest possible air pressure that prevents your apnea from occurring. In most cases, the CPAP/BiPAP titration test results help make a permanent prescription for your CPAP or BiPAP machine.

Sleep specialists use the tests described above to diagnose and treat various sleep disorders. If you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, consult your doctor about whether one of these tests might be right for you. Each test has its advantages and disadvantages, and your doctor can help you decide the best for you based on your individual needs.

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