How to read your Sleep Study! – USA Medical Supply
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How to read your Sleep Study!

Posted by Richard Spafford on

Below is the transcript for our recent youtube video. You can read or click the link below:

What’s going on guys. Rich here from CPAP Corner at Footit. I’m going show you guys what to look for in your sleep study report. The meat and potatoes, no vegetables!  You can request yours at anytime from your doctor if you don’t have it. I’m not going go over every single detail like what a Natus polysomnograph machine is or what nasal pressure tranducers are but I will simplify this report for you. If I missed anything important please put in the comments section. This is for educational purposes as some of our patients aren’t educated at all leaving a sleep study.  This is my sleep study from 2011. 


My sleep study was done at Baystate Medical Center at the Sleep And & Neurodiagnostic Department. 


This is me all wired and juiced up ready to rock! 



Here’s my study. First,  your height and weight will be listed in the introduction along with your BMI.(Body Mass Index) Normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9. Your BMI is usually directly correlated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This is why weight loss is key if you are overweight.


 Further in the introduction, you will see who you are, why you are there, and what current habits you have that may affect your sleep. Such as the times you go to bed, alcohol, drugs, etc.. that have a direct impact on your sleep and may be correlated with your sleep apnea if you have it. 


Medications such as opiates decrease the respiratory drive and relax smooth muscle in the airway that can have a direct impact on sleep apnea. 


Description: They will list all the equipment they used and the standards in which they used it. You can skip this part. 


Sleep Architecture: The meat and potatoes here is 


  1. Sleep Efficiency. All this means is the ratio of the total time spent asleep compared to the amount of total time spent in bed. Mine was 88.6%. Above 85% is normal. good is anything above 90%. I don’t really like this statistic unless you are getting a home study. Many people have a hard time getting good sleep efficiency in a hospital for one night hooked to a bunch of equipment. Luckily, I was able to fall asleep fine. 

2. Sleep Maintenance is just staying asleep. 

3. Sleep Latency is the length of time it takes you to be wide awake to falling asleep.

4. The meat and potatoes for the stages of sleep is REM Sleep. You want to achieve this here. I only spent 6.4% of sleep there during this study and normal range is 20-25% in normal adults. This is significant because REM sleep is the restorative part of our sleep cycle where the body repairs itself, the brain is able maintaining important neural pathways which directly affects memory. 


Respiratory Measures:

-I had obstructive, mixed, and central apneas, and hypopneas. Obstructive is when your throat relaxes and colapses not allowing air to flow in. Central Apneas are when the brain stops sending signals to the respiratory muscles to breath. Hypopneas are slow or shallow breathing.  Mixed apneas are obstructive and central combined.  What scares me here on my sleep report is that I have centrals. Central Sleep apnea is the most dangerous form of sleep apnea.


The AHI is the Apnea Hypopnea Index. It takes the average Apnea’s & Hypopneas you have per hour. A normal person has less than 5. Mine was 9.1 which falls under mild. 5-15 is mild- Moderate is over 15 and under 30 and severe is over 30. 


The 02 Saturation here is probably one of if not the most important number on a sleep study. Normal adults are in the 95%-98% range.  Anytime someone drops below 90%, it puts a lot of stress on the body and tissues. The partial pressure of oxygen drops off significantly below this point which means it’s harder for your organs to get oxygen because oxygen is having a hard time being carried by red blood cells. What’s scares me is that I spent over 6 minutes with an oxygen saturation less than 89% and my lowest was 80%. Increased risk of heart attack and stroke under these conditions.  Good God! Get me a CPAP Machine! 



End Tidal CO2 - 35-45 are normal values. The main significance of this test is to detect respiratory distress. Elevated levels show that you are having a hard time ventilating. 


EKG - Measures the electrical signals of the heart. This will test for Arrythmias during your study. Sleep Apnea puts a lot of stress on the heart and arrhythmia can show up during this time when normally they might not while awake. My resting heart rate was 31-74 which is abnormal. Being a runner and a workout junky at the time, my primary care doctor ruled out concern as I didn’t have symptoms such as passing out or light headdresses and the EKG was fine. 


EEG- As stated above it will test what sleep cycle your in and how much time you are in REM Sleep


Limb Movements: Restless Leg Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movements are associated with Sleep Disorders. 


Bruxism: Is the clenching or grinding of teeth. 


Patient’s Assessment: Like I said earlier, I was lucky to fall asleep. 


Diagnostic Classiciation: Speaks for itself. 


Recommendations: They will involve going for a titration study or some doctors may skip that with Auto CPAP technology now and titrate you over time which I’ve seen and I think is a good thing. They will also advise you on your lifestyle changes to help with better sleep. Cutting out alcohol, drugs, losing weight, etc.. all helps with sleep hygiene. 




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  • Really great post. Thanks for sharing such an informative post about Sleep Study. Hope you will share more about Sleep Study.

    Shweta Rai on
  • Thank you so much for your very informative blog. I will refer it to others I know who will appreciate it! Thank you as well for the YouTube videos!

    Mleissa Edwards on

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