Thursday, September 2, 2010

How Do You Expect Me To Sleep With All That?

When I ask a patient to undergo a sleep study, I explain to them what is involved so that they can prepare properly. Most of my patients don't mind spending one or two nights away from home. In fact, it's like going to a motel for the night. But I explain that I need to monitor their sleep with multiple wires - on their scalp, face, neck, chest, abdomen, finger, and legs. I imagine some patients immediately think of Pinhead from the movie Hellraiser.

I explain that the sleep study uses no needles, and there will be no pain or blood involved in the process. I let them know that all of the wires are put on with glue, tape, or velcro. I find it helpful to show them a picture of a patient that has the wires placed, so that they can visualize the process.

When patients see the picture, most of them ask, "How do you expect me to sleep with all of those wires on me?" I tell them that almost everyone sleeps on the sleep study. And it's not crucial that I get 8 hours of solid sleep to be able to make a diagnosis. I ask the patient to just do their best - and they usually do.

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