Sleep Study, Northwestern
Tonight, I showed up for my Sleep Study with Northwestern. Oddly, they scheduled me to appear at the nearby Raddison hotel. Turns out, they have an entire floor of the hotel dedicated to sleep studies (multiple rooms, no less). Crazy.
In the waiting area, I met a few other folks who were also slated to do sleep studies. Because the observation period lasts for the entire duration of when you’re sleeping, the majority of these studies take place overnight. Hence… the hotel.
It was a weird feeling, being in a hotel and being in rooms that were very obviously converted to perform tasks they were never designed for. To add to the whole creepy factor, there was this slow-moving camera in one corner of the waiting room, constantly rotating and watching.
I could understand them watching us while we sleep (we were all here for sleep studies, of course). But why would they want to monitor us out in the waiting area?
The presence of these nearby masks did little to detract from the creepy factor.
After I was assigned a room, I was allowed to settle my things and asked to fill out a series of forms. There were a ton of interesting questions, regarding how drowsy I am normally, questions trying to gauge my current state of rest (during both the day and the night).
In my opinion though, they need to add a little more room for Question #16, for the explanation.
Next to the bed, there were an assortment of gadgets and thingamabobbers. I think one of these guys turns on the television.
On the other side of the bed, there was a phone with a speaker setup. If at any point in the evening I had a problem, I could just say something… and the nurse would respond back. They were down the hall, in another room, and I guess this was always on.
A slightly less-unnerving camera, also set up in the room for observation. This was positioned in the far corner, above the TV. It was weird for the first 30 minutes, but after that I sort of forgot about it.
Poking around the closets, I found this assortment of wires.
A bit of reading material for the evening: Peopleware.
Machine that I don’t really understand.
Warning sign for machine that I don’t really understand.
Actually, I think this is some kind of air/breathing machine. The nurse told me that in some cases, they’ll do what’s called a “Split Study.” That is, they determine early on in the evening that the patient does indeed have sleep apnea; they then switch the study from observation over to this air breathing machine.
The machine itself helps to reduce/remove the apnea, and it becomes more a process of finding the right configurations for each person.
The room was freaking cold. I went over to the windows, and could feel actual, honest to god drafts coming in through the window. We’re pretty high up, and there is a discernable difference between the temperature where my feet are, and the rest of me.
Think of liquid nitrogen, an evil scientist’s lab, a special-effects-heavy rock concert. That’s what this room would look like, if you could see the cold.
I spent a good while stuffing the windows with Kleenex. It was THAT bad.
In an attempt to get sleepy, I watched TV for a while. I saw this, and pretty much had to take a photo.
Prior to bed, the nurse came in to prep me with a bunch of electrodes. Part of the process involved this kind of gummy thing that would adhere everything to me. It would take me a few days before I could get rid of all of this, after the study.
Electrodes on the leg.
Aaaaaand all over mah face.
After the nurse handed this thing to me, I thought I knew where it was supposed to go. After placing it, the nurse looked at me and had to explain that it went on my finger. FINGER. By, that was awkward.
All this stuff here? Attached. Each wire went to a different electrode, somewhere on my person – head, arms, legs, stomach, etc.
Detailed view of complicated box of wires.
Here’s an embarassing story: I had trouble sleeping all night. I would fall asleep and then wake up, repeatedly. For most of the evening, I had a pretty bad stomach ache, which kept pulling me out of sleep every 30 minutes or so.
At one point in the evening, I had to go to the bathroom. Not the stand up bathroom, but the sit down bathroom, if you know what I mean. But in order to do so, I had to let the nurse know because she had to come in and sort of “unhook” me from a multitude of things.
But.. despite all that, I was still all wired up. In fact, I had to lug around this box with me, as I lumbered to the bathroom, slowly.
Have you ever tried to take a crap while hooked up to five pounds of wires and an electronic box? Not the most comfortable thing in the world. Add to that how cold the room w
as, and it was a very… unique process.