For a sleep study, a child will be asked to stay overnight at a sleep lab or a hospital room. Ideally, home sleep studies are not performed in children due to the lack of technical expertise. There are different levels of sleep studies:
A Level 1 Sleep study is used in sleep labs to diagnose various sleep disorders. It records the brainwaves, heartbeats and breathing. It also charts eye movements, limb movements, and oxygen in the blood. Ideally for children, this should be the test of choice, if available.
A Level 2 Sleep study measures all the above parameters, except for brainwaves and eye movements. They can be done in hospital set ups.
A Level 3 Sleep study is conducted at home. It only records the oxygen levels, heart rate, airflow, and snoring. And a Level 4 Sleep study refers to an Oximetry study, which measures only blood oxygen levels. A level 3 and level 4 study is not recommended ideally in children as many sleep disorders can be missed by these studies. However, in resource limited settings where level 1 and 2 are not available, a level 3 or 4 study can be used to help with diagnosis and treatment.
We have conducted plenty of sleep studies in children and there is nothing to worry. Most children are co-operative and contribute to the sleep study well. In a Level 1 study, the following leads are connected by a technician to a baby:
- EEG (Electroencephalogram)
- Oral and Nasal airflow
- Chin and Leg EMG (Electromyogram)
- EOG (Electro-oculogram)
- SpO2 (Saturation)
- ECG (Electrocardiogram)
- Chest band
- Abdominal band