Most people, although they have experienced, temporarily or for long, how difficult it is to have good sleep, are too often unaware of the importance of nocturnal sleep and ignore the existence and consequences of the most important sleep disorders: INSOMNIA, NARCOLEPSY, SNORING, OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA SYNDROME (OSAS), RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME, CIRCADIAN RHYTHM DISORDERS, JET LAG, BRUXISM, SOMNAMBULISM.
Among all sleep disorders, the least known is paradoxically also the most dangerous: Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS).
By Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome we mean a condition characterized by repeated episodes of occlusion of the upper respiratory tract (anatomic/functional), complete (apnea) or partial (hypopnea), during sleep; which cause:
- respiratory stress
- the reduction of oxygen in the blood
- sleep fragmentation
OSAS is a PATHOLOGICAL INTERRUPTION OF NOCTURNAL BREATHING, associated with STRONG SNORING, and it may cause:
- morning headaches
- lack of concentration
- diurnal sleepiness
- falling asleep while driving
- mood depression
- work injuries
- arrythmias and cardiovascular mortality (stroke).
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome is a serious and growing medical, social and economic problem, and the lack of diagnosis and the non-treatment of this syndrome are decisive over time.
All this today is easily diagnosable and treatable with Polysomnography: this is an exam during which sleep can be monitored and organic disorders studied, especially in patients who have been struggling with sleep for a long time.
Polysomnography enables sleep to be studied objectively by recording all the physiological variables involved in disorders of the various phases of sleep: REM and non-REM.
On the basis of an accurate diagnosis and evaluation of the results of the test, the specialist in Sleep Medicine can diagnose the nature of the disorder and, keeping in mind the needs of the patient, choose the most appropriate treatment.
As already said, polysomnography is aimed at monitoring and recording cardio-respiratory activity and in certain cases, nocturnal neurological activity by means of:
- a chest band detecting chest expansion movements
- an abdominal band detecting abdominal muscle movements
- a pulse oximeter which is positioned on a finger of the hand to detect peripheral oxyhemoglobin saturation and the heart rate
- a nasal cannula to detect respiratory flow through changes in pressure
- a sensor for snoring
- a position sensor enabling the position of the body while sleeping (supine, lateral or prone) to be detected
- electrodes positioned on the scalp enabling brain activity to be detected (a parameter possible only in case of neurological nocturnal polysomnography)
This is a painless test, during which important physiological parameters, normally guaranteeing refreshing sleep, are monitored and recorded.