After a year of having "episodes" my general practitioner sent me to a sleep clinic for a sleep study. This was great fun. No really, it was interesting.
I had to show up at 9 p.m. with my jammies in tow. They had me change and then sit in a chair where a sleep technician proceeded to mark my head with a special pencil, apply a special adhesive and stick electrodes to my skull. I think there were at least twenty-four plugged into another device I had to wear and I can't forget the ground wires on my calves. Then I climbed into a very tall bed (five hours too early for me). During the night they monitored my brain activity (EEG), my heart activity (ECG), my pulse, my airflow and respiratory effort, and my body position. I was video taped all night and there was a microphone where I could talk to anyone at anytime if necessary. They woke me up around 7 a.m. to detach me and send me home. I had to wait to see the doctor to get the results as the technicians said they were only knowledgeable in doing the test not reading the test.
At the doctor' office, I brought my husband for support, he explained I had obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. It sounds bad but in my case it was a mild form. Basically during the night my airway was closing and the body's automatic flight and fight response would wake me up so I was not getting the regenerative sleep we all require every night. According to their records I would stop breathing about eight times an hour. This really freaked us out. It wasn't until later when I talked with other sleep apnea people that I learned this was actually pretty low (some sufferers will stop over twenty times an hour) in the whole sleep apnea picture but it was still necessary for it to be taken care of.
The doctor's suggestion was a CPAP machine which would help me sleep at night by keeping my airway open. I had to go back for another sleep clinic sleepover so they would hook me up to all the electrodes again as well as a breathing mask and CPAP machine to determine the correct amount of air flow required. During the night they would test different levels until they found the appropriate level, one strong enough to keep my airway open but not cause discomfort.
We were then off to the CPAP suppliers where I was fitted with the latest equipment and given directions for use along with a hefty bill. Luckily we had insurance to cover most of the expenditure.