What It's Like to Do a 24-Hour Sleep Study

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


It's done, it's done, my 24-hours sleep study is finally done! After being rescheduled twice, it finally took place on Sunday/Monday, & boy, am I glad to be done with it. I'd expected it to be like a sleep staycation, but to be honest, I've never been more bored.

If you missed the backstory, my doctor thinks I have two separate sleep disorders, delayed sleep phase disorder & idiopathic hypersomnia. I am not thrilled about either, but I am thrilled to be on the road to having answers & finding treatment. This sleep study was the first step. 

For starters, let's get the embarrassing stuff out of the way, shall we? Here's what I looked like right before I headed to bed on Sunday night, hooked up to a flobberty-jillion wires, with straps around both my chest & hip, & two kinds of breathing apparatuses up my nose. Oh, yeah, & some of those wires are connected to my legs, making it nearly impossible to turn over in my sleep. 


Ta-dahhhhhh! You're welcome. That's how dedicated I am to blogging: I shared this photo with the Internet.

Sunday night's sleep study was a standard one. Like, if you've ever done a sleep study before, you've probably done that one. I am lucky, I suppose, in that mine took place at a very nice hotel instead of in some weird, cold, impersonal sleep study clinic. My room was very nice, & my bed was very comfy, & yes, I most certainly did pack a suitcase that contained nothing but my favorite pillow & a furry blanket. And two pairs of slipper socks.





Look how nice that top room is. So nice! Perfectly nice! Did I get to spend a single minute in that part of the room? Nope. Instead, I spent all of Monday - literally, from the time I woke up until the time I left the clinic/hotel at 9:11pm - confined to the bedroom portion of my hotel room.

The rules were that I couldn't lie down, & I couldn't stand up. All I could really do was sit in a recliner in the middle of the room - but with no outlets nearby, so I couldn't use my (dead) laptop. Originally, there wasn't a table in the room, either, but halfway through the day, an aide materialized with one so for me to eat lunch on - alas, that didn't help me with the dead computer situation.


Those socks say "Sleep all night, nap all day, party never," & they feature an adorable pink & white sloth. Appropriate, right?

So, I couldn't leave my chair, & every 1.5 hours, an aide entered the room & set me up to take a nap. Before napping, I was asked to do a few facial exercises, like blinking, smiling, & looking in all four direction. Then, I laid down for half an hour... & they came back in at the end to wake me up & to ask me some questions. "Did you sleep? Did you dream?"

I slept for four of them; for the fifth, a crying baby in a nearby room kept me awake (along with my enthusiasm for being an hour away from heading home). Between naps, I read. A lot.


I finished Roxane Gay's Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, & I read about half each of An Abundance of Katherines by John Greene & Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy. I also listened to an episode of My Favorite Murder & one of Mouthing Off, & I watched two episodes apiece of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (almost done with my third rewatch!) & Manifest (any other fans out there?) I also went through approximately a zillion Instagram Stories.

It was great to indulge in so many of my favorite quiet-time activities, but man, was it ever boring - & it also hurt. Sitting in a chair for an entire day is not relaxing; it's borderline torturous on the body, leaving everything sore & creaky. The whole thing felt more like a hospital stay than a staycation, & quite honestly, I was so ready to head home by the end of the day - & to breathe some fresh air!



It would've been OK, I think, if I hadn't been connected to the wires all day. The stuff that held the wires to my head was goopy & greasy, & whenever I got a little overheated, it melted & dripped; I also picked at it, like, all day long. I also couldn't change my clothes while I was there, so I spent those 24 hours feeling slimy & smelly. 

The wire goop is notoriously difficult to remove from hair. After an aide removed my wires & sent me on my way, I was horrified to discover that my hair was completely matted at the back of my head, like I hadn't brushed my hair in years. It was held down by both the goopy stuff and the cement-like stuff they use to cover the goopy stuff. Basically, my head was half papier-mâchéd. This photo doesn't even begin to show the extent of it.


Luckily, my aides gave me some hair tips before I left: Use conditioner first, they said - like, a lot of it - then rinse it out with the hottest water you can possibly stand. I did exactly that, twice, & by today, my hair was normal. It felt so good to put on regular clothes & makeup today.

And that's that, for now.

In two weeks, I'll receive the results of my sleep test, & I am so excited to see what they say. Honestly, I'm worried that I "passed" the test & that my doctor will tell me I don't have a sleep disorder after all - like, bye, you're fine, good luck & Godspeed. That's my worst fear, in all of this - but the aide even said that I slept "a surprising amount," which I hope means that this is all headed somewhere.

My follow-up appointment is in mid-January, & I don't think I've ever looked forward to a medical thing quite so much. Bring it on, sleep study. Let's get this potential sleep disorder thing taken care of, shall we?

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