Sleep disorders clinics, often attached to hospitals, can be found in nearly all states. Physicians and technicians in these centers have the training and equipment to diagnose a wide range of sleep problems, such as narcolepsy (a disorder of excessive sleepiness), sleep apnea and chronic insomnia.
Usually, you check in at bedtime and stay overnight so that your sleep habits can be observed and recorded. You’ll have your own bedroom. There is a detailed questionnaire to fill out—if you’ve kept a sleep log, that will help. You will be connected to a variety of monitors via electrodes on your head, chest, abdomen and limbs (rather like having an EKG). As you sleep, the monitors will measure your brain waves and eye movements, airflow, heart rate, muscle tension, blood oxygen levels and other variables. All procedures are painless and noninvasive. In the morning, your sleep picture, or polysomnography, should be complete.
You may imagine that you could never fall asleep and stay asleep in such circumstances, but most people do. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredits these centers; its website can help you locate the nearest accredited center. Most insurance covers the cost of a night at the sleep center if your health care provider has ordered it.