Sleep Investigations at Papworth

Sleep PatientThere are several types of sleep study conducted at Papworth sleep centre:

Simple sleep study

People whose symptoms suggest they could have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) undergo a simple oxygen sleep study. This involves wearing an oxygen monitor on a finger during sleep and can often be done at home. An easy-to-use monitor is collected from the sleep centre, worn overnight, then returned the next day for a recording of your night's sleep to be downloaded. If the results suggest OSA, you receive an appointment to come to clinic to be assessed by a sleep specialist and discuss whether treatment is needed. Sometimes the simple sleep study does not provide an answer and a more sophisticated sleep study is required.

Respiratory Polygraphy

Occasionally a simple sleep study is not sufficient to detect and diagnose different types of breathing difficulties overnight that may cause symptoms. A respiratory polygraphy is a test that can be performed in your own home. It involves a “fitting” session at the sleep centre and then the equipment is worn overnight at home and returned the next day. It involves a band around the chest and abdomen to measure movement, a small flow sensor in the nostrils and an oxygen monitor on the finger. This test can diagnose different types of breathing difficulties and assess their severity allowing the correct choice of treatment to be made.

Polysomnogram (PSG)

A PSG uses sophisticated monitoring equipment to record your brain waves (electroencephalography or EEG) and other vital signs overnight to tell us how well you sleep. It can detect whether your sleep is being disrupted by OSA or limb movements. It may simply confirm that you sleep well overnight. Nap tests with further EEG monitoring may be performed the following day (multiple sleep latency tests - MSLT). These assess sleepiness and look for easy lapsing into dream sleep which is a feature of narcolepsy. After the tests you will usually be seen by one of our sleep specialists to discuss the results, before going home.


Actigraphy involves wearing a movement monitor, resembling a wristwatch, on your arm or leg for a few days and nights at home. This is used to assess sleep regularity or to look for periodic leg movements or PLM. Actigraphy equipment is posted to a person's home with straightforward instructions and then returned to the sleep centre for downloading of data.

Patient Information Leaflets

Click here to download the leaflet Patient's Guide to Assessment of Leg Movements in the Home
Click here to download the leaflet Patient's Guide to Using Actiwatches to Measure Leg Movements

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