The Sleep Disorders Service is an accredited medical service that has been improving the sleep of Melbournians since 2006. 

Our six bed facility caters to a range of patients and needs and we endeavour to make your sleep study as comfortable experience as possible. We run seven nights a week and perform in-home diagnostic and treatment studies.

Each of our six single patient rooms has a private ensuite, with toilet and shower facilities, and include free television and free wi-fi. We understand that a sleep study can be a daunting process for some patients and do our best to put patients at ease during their sleep study.

Sleep Studies

What is a sleep study?

A sleep study is a comprehensive test that measures and records what your body does when it’s asleep. It measures the electrical activity of the brain, some specific muscles in the face and legs, heart rate, breathing, oxygen levels and snoring. It is used to determine wake and sleep, as well as patterns of breathing and limb movements while you are asleep.

How does a sleep study work?

A sleep study is usually performed in a hospital or clinic environment, although home sleep studies are also available when suitable. In the evening a Sleep Scientist will apply multiple electrodes, wires and probes to your body, from your head, all the way down to your legs. The electrodes and wires do not hurt but they are slightly restrictive, as they are attached to a central monitoring box that limits your ability to move from the bed without assistance.

Are there different kinds of sleep studies?

The main two types of sleep studies are diagnostic and therapeutic studies. Most patients having their first sleep study will undergo a diagnostic sleep study. We want to see what your body does when it’s asleep. You will have electrodes and wires applied and then sleep as normal.

A therapeutic sleep study, usually a CPAP study, is similar to a diagnostic study in that you will have electrodes and wires applied to your body but you will also use a therapeutic device (usually CPAP or MAS device) that we will use to improve your sleep quality. Overnight, attending sleep scientists will remotely alter the settings on the device to find the right setting to ensure a better quality of sleep.

In some circumstances, your physician may refer you to stay after your sleep study for a daytime sleep study, which assesses your levels of sleepiness during the day. Daytime sleep studies come in two varieties; a Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) and a Multiple Wakefulness Test (MWT).

In a MSLT study, you will have the opportunity for four or five naps during the day. It assesses how quickly you can fall asleep when you have the chance. In an MWT, you will sit in a dark room and attempt to stay awake for as long as you can. It assesses how resistant you are to falling asleep.

Before your sleep study

Please use to following list to ensure that you are fully prepared for your sleep study.

A week before you appointment:The day of your appointment
  • confirmed your sleep study date by calling us
  • organised a carer to stay over with you if needed and advised the hospital

Check that you have:

  • your appointment letter
  • toiletries - towels will be provided
  • any medications you need to take
  • a list of all current medications
  • bring your own pillow - pillows will be provided but patients generally find their own pillow to be comforting
  • sleep wear, preferably something loose that buttons in the front
  • someone to interpret if necessary
  • snacks you may need - food is not provided
  • entertainment such as a book or laptop or tablet computer - rooms have a television
  • arranged transport to and from the hospital
  • your CPAP equipment, if you are currently using CPAP
  • your MAS device, if you are currently using a MAS device

Men are should be clean shaven, as stubble can affect our electrodes. Men with beards do not have to be clean shaven

Frequently asked questions

Why do I need a sleep study?

If your specialist has referred you for a sleep study, they may suspect you have a sleep disorder. Read more about common sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome.

What happens when I arrive?

Our staff will greet you and show you to your private room. You will be asked to complete some paperwork and we'll take your height and measure your weight. Staff will allow you to settle in before you are wired up for your study. Various sensors and probes will be placed on your body, from your legs to your head. This process usually takes 30 to 45 minutes.

After you have been wired up, you are free to read in bed or watch television until you are ready to sleep. All patients will be asked to attempt sleep by 11pm.

Can I bring someone with me?

Yes. You can have a friend or family member stay with you in the evening before you go to sleep, however they will have to leave when you go to sleep. Patients who require an overnight carer to stay should prearrange it with the sleep administration team.

What if I need to go to the toilet during the night?

No problem - the wires all plug into a box, which is easily disconnected by our staff, so you can carry it into your private ensuite. Urine bottles are also available on request.

But how can I sleep with all those wires on?

Somewhat surprisingly, this isn’t usually an issue. It may take you slightly longer to fall asleep than usual but most patients manage to get enough sleep for us to make a conclusion about their sleep quality.

What happens in the morning?

You will be woken at 6am by our staff. The wires will be removed and you will have the choice to shower before leaving. The laboratory closes at 7am so all patients will be discharged prior. If you need to wait later for your transport, maybe arrange to meet at the café on ground floor which will be open.

When do I get my results?

You will need to see your sleep specialist again to get the results of your sleep study. An appointment to see your specialist will be made by the sleep administration team. An appointment letter with the date and time will be given to you when you attend your sleep study. You can call to change the appointment if you are unable to make it.

Can I just visit my GP for the results?

No. Sleep studies are specialist tests which require interpretation by physicians who are qualified specifically in sleep medicine. You can arrange to have your results forwarded to your GP after you have seen your specialist.

Cancellations

Please ensure that you call ahead of time if you are unable to attend the sleep study. Patients who fail attend their sleep study without notifying the laboratory face the risk of having to get a new referral before being offered another sleep study appointment.

Sleep disorders

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a common condition which is characterised by periodic cessations or reductions in breathing during the night. A common feature of sleep apnoea is snoring, although snoring does not necessarily occur in all sleep apnoea patients. In people who have sleep apnoea, during the night the walls of their throat come together and partially or fully obstruct the airway.

Breathing stops for a period until a drop in blood oxygen levels triggers the brain to begin waking up. As the brain begins to wake up, muscle tone returns to the throat. Normal breathing resumes and the sleeper falls back to sleep.

In most cases the sleeper is not aware of waking. This pattern can repeat throughout the night, interrupting normal sleep patterns and putting extra strain on the heart.

Symptoms of sleep apnoea

  • daytime sleepiness, fatigue and tiredness
  • poor concentration
  • irritability and mood changes
  • Impotence and reduced sex drive
  • need to frequently urinate during the night
  • witnessed apnoeas or periods of

Treatment of sleep apnoea

Lifestyle Changes
  • weight reduction
  • reduce alcohol intake
  • improve cardiovascular health
CPAP therapy

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea. The sleeper wears a mask which transmits increased air pressure into the airway, preventing the walls of the throat from collapsing during the night. The key to successful CPAP therapy is finding the right mask and air pressure for the patient.

Dental appliances

Mandibular advancement splint (MAS) devices are mouth guards that hold the bottom jaw forward during sleep. They can be effective for less sever forms of sleep apnoea.

Surgery

Although not always effective, surgery to the palate and base of tongue may be useful when other therapies fail.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a nervous system condition characterised by unpleasant sensations in the legs and the uncontrollable urge to move them. Patients often describe a tingling, itching or crawling sensation in their legs. Symptoms occur primarily at night when a person is relaxing and can range in severity from uncomfortable to painful.

Most people will experience the symptoms of restless legs at some point in their life. Precipitating factors include pregnancy, iron deficiency, antidepressant use and renal failure. The cause of RLS is unknown, although there appears to be a genetic link, with the condition occurring more frequently in families.

Periodic Limb Moments (PLMs) occur during sleep, can be severe enough to wake the sleeper and can result in poor sleep and daytime fatigue.

An assessment of RLS usually includes a comprehensive clinical evaluation. Iron levels will be checked and the patient will usually undergo a sleep study to look for co-existing sleep issues, such as sleep apnoea.

RLS can often be treated with iron supplements if iron levels are low. Measures such as pacing or walking can provide short term relief. For more severe cases, medication can be prescribed that can lessen the symptoms of RLS.

Insomnia

Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is a very common problem. In any one year 30% of the Australian population have difficulty sleeping. There are many reasons why people have difficulty falling asleep so it’s important to be carefully evaluated by your doctor to ensure there are no other contributing factors. Insomnia is usually a symptom of something, rather than a disease. If insomnia persists over a month or more, it is called ‘persistent insomnia” or “chronic insomnia”.

People who suffer from insomnia often become frustrated or anxious about their sleeplessness, which contributes to their insomnia. It can help to stop expecting to sleep all night. Having less sleep may cause tiredness but will not cause harm.

Sleep hygiene refers to the behaviours we have around sleep. Some habits, such as watching television in bed or napping during the day can negatively affect our ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Treatment for insomnia usually combines changing behaviours and thoughts around sleep. Pharmaceutical intervention is sometimes employed but is rarely successful in the long term unless behaviour and thoughts are addressed.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a rare condition, affecting 1 in every 2000 people. It effects both genders and is usually first observed between the ages of 10 and 30. It is a chronic neurological disorder that results in excessive daytime sleepiness. It may occur in conjunction with other symptoms such as cataplexy (loss of muscle tone), sleep paralysis and hallucinations.

Cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle tone while conscious. Patients may collapse or just have some muscle weakness in their knees and face. It can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and is generally triggered by strong emotions such as laughter or anger.

In people with narcolepsy, the part of the brain that controls falling asleep functions abnormally. During the day while they are awake, they may fall asleep with minimal warning, often going straight into a stage of sleep called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is associated with dreaming and a loss of muscle tone which is why people with Narcolepsy sometimes experience hallucinations and cataplexy.

If your sleep physician suspects narcolepsy, they may refer you for a Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). You will have a normal overnight sleep study in a sleep laboratory and then stay the next day for a series of naps at two hour intervals. During each nap you will be encouraged to try to sleep and two parameters will be assessed; how long it takes you to fall asleep and if you have REM sleep. Falling asleep quickly and having multiple episodes of REM sleep tend to indicate narcolepsy.

There is no cure for narcolepsy but symptoms can be controlled with medication. Antidepressant medication can help with cataplexy and stimulants can alleviate symptoms of sleepiness. Planned napping can also help to lessen symptoms.

Parasomnias

Disorders of arousal from sleep are known as parasomnias. They usually occur during arousal from Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep when sleep and wake overlap. Common parasomnias include somniloguy (sleep talking), somnambulism (sleep walking) and parvour noctorus (night terrors).

Parasomnias can occur for a range of reasons and it’s important to determine if the events occur spontaneously or are triggered by other sleep disorders. It is for that reason that a sleep study is usually recommended when evaluating the disorder.

If parasomnias occur during NREM sleep, they usually begin in childhood and lessen in frequency with age. These parasomnias can often be effectively managed by avoiding alcohol and ensuring adequate sleep but they can be treated with medication if required.

Other parasomnias that occur on arousal from REM sleep (REM behaviour disorder or RBD) tend to occur in men over the age of 50 and can manifest as dramatic or violent outbursts during sleep. In the diagnosis of RBD other neurological disorders must be ruled out. An overnight sleep study is used in the diagnosis of this disorder and treatment often involves medication.

Organise a sleep study

If you are concerned about your sleep and wish to have a sleep study you will need a referral from a GP to see a sleep physician.

Patients suspected of a sleep disorder or with significant co-morbid conditions should be referred to our sleep clinic to have an initial consultation with a sleep Physician.

How to access this service

You need a referral from your GP or medical practitioner to access this service.

Your GP will fax your referral to the hospital. Once we receive the referral, we will send you a letter.

If there is a waiting list, you'll be advised what to do in your letter.

Referrals are current for 12 months from the date of issue. Keep a copy of your referral, so you can easily ask your GP to renew your referral if you need to.

Clinics

CPAP Review Clinic City Campus Sleep Disorders Clinic, Level 5 East
HARP Respiratory Medicine City Campus Sleep Disorders Clinic, Level 5 East TUE
Home Oxygen Annual Review City Campus Sleep Disorders Clinic, Level 5 East THU
Oximetry City Campus Sleep Disorders Clinic, Level 5 East WED
Sleep Disorders City Campus Sleep Disorders Clinic, Level 5 East MON, TUE, WED, THU, FRI

What to bring

Every time you come to hospital

Every time you come to hospital for a test, day procedure, surgery or treatment, you should bring:

  • Medicare card
  • Medications you are currently taking, including any that you have bought without a prescription
  • Aids (glasses, hearing aid, walking frame)
For a sleep study

If you come in for a sleep study, you should also bring:

  • Comfortable sleepwear
  • Personal hygeine items such as shampoo, shaving cream, shaver, toothpaste and deodorant
  • Your own pillow, if you want think it will help you sleep better
  • Something to do - like a book, magazine or iPad/tablet
Do not bring (for overnight or longer stay)

And if you're staying overnight, do not bring:

  • Your handbag, wallet, purse or large amounts of cash. Just bring a small amount for items such as newspapers, magazines or coffee

  • Valuables, such as jewellery, watches or other items of value to you

In a medical emergency, call 000. If you are feeling unwell, see your local GP or go to your local hospital Emergency department for help.