Sleep Apnea Testing and Diagnosis

By: Houston Sleep Solutions | Published 10/20/2021


If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, contact Houston Sleep Solutions in Pearland and Friendswood TX, and may ask you to do a sleep apnea test called a polysomnogram (PSG). This can be done at a sleep disorder center or even at home.

A polysomnogram, or sleep study, is a multi-component test that electronically transmits and records the specific physical activity during sleep. The study is analyzed by a qualified sleep specialist to determine if you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.

If the test shows sleep apnea, additional sleep tests may be needed to determine the optimal treatment option.

What to Expect During a Sleep Study

Your doctor will tell you if you should take your medicine as usual or stop using it before the test. Do not drink caffeine or alcohol on the day of the test as it may affect the results. Bring comfortable pajamas, books and magazines, and special pillows.

If you are in the sleep center lab on the evening of sleep research, the sleep center or hospital has its own bedroom. Near the bedroom, there is a central monitoring area where technicians monitor sleeping patients. There is a private bathroom. Tell your technician when to use it so that you can disconnect the cable that connects to the monitoring device.

You will be paired with equipment that looks uncomfortable. However, most people fall asleep without problems. Similar, more portable devices are available for home testing, especially in less complex cases and situations.


During sleep studies, surface electrodes are placed on the face and scalp and the recorded electrical signals are sent to the measuring device. These signals generated by brain and muscle activity are recorded digitally. Belts around the chest and abdomen measure breathing. An oxygen meter probe with a bandage on the finger measures oxygen in the blood.


  • EEG to measure and record EEG activity
  • EMG looks for REM sleep by recording muscle activity such as facial contractions, bruxism, and leg movements. During REM sleep, intense dreams often occur when the brain is most active.
  • EOG that records eye movements. These movements are important in determining the various stages of sleep, especially the REM stage.
  • ECG to record heart rate and rhythm
  • Nasal airflow sensor for recording airflow
  • Snoring microphone for recording snoring activity

Sleep Study Results

The data contains information about sleep, such as:

  • How much time do you spend at each sleep stage?
  • How often do you wake up?
  • If you hold your breath or have breathing problems
  • Whether you’re snoring
  • Body position
  • Movement of limbs
  • Abnormal patterns of brain activity
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