Sleep Studies

The Sleep Disorder Center is a two-suite lab, staffed by experienced polysomnography technicians and respiratory care practitioners. A polysomnography, or sleep study, is a painless test to measure sleep cycles and stages by recording brain waves (EEG), muscle and eye movement, breathing rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation and hearth rhythm. These non-invasive tests can provide diagnostic information for the patient's doctor to use in the development of a treatment plan.

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale (pdf) is used to evaluate a patient's daytime sleepiness. Patients can return the Epworth Sleepiness Scale to the Sleep Lab by fax to (970) 479-7188 or by email to Please contact your health care provider if you would like to find out if a sleep study might be right for you.

The Sleep Disorder Center is a service of Vail Valley Medical Center. For more information, call the Sleep Disorder Center at (970) 479-7218, or email

Frequently Asked Questions

How is a polysomnography performed?

A specially trained health care provider directly observes patients while they sleep. Patients lie on a bed in the test center, and the test is carried out during the night so that normal sleep patterns can be studied. Electrodes are placed on the chin, scalp and outer edge of the eyelids, and remain in place while the patient sleeps. Signals from electrodes are recorded while the patient is awake with his/her eyes closed, as well as during sleep. The time taken to fall asleep and the time taken to enter REM sleep are both recorded. Monitors to record heart rate and breathing are attached to the patient's chest, and a video camera records the patient's movements during sleep.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is an interruption of normal breathing during sleep and includes episodes of heavy snoring that begin soon after falling asleep. The snoring proceeds at a regular pace for a period of time, often becoming louder, but is then interrupted by a long silent period during which no breathing is taking place (apnea). The apnea is then interrupted by a loud snort and gasp, and the snoring returns to its regular pace. This behavior recurs frequently throughout the night. Patients with apnea may not be aware of the condition. It is often recognized by a spouse who is disturbed by the snoring.

What treatment options are available for sleep apnea?

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, a treatment that delivers slightly pressurized air throughout the breathing cycle. This makes it easier to breathe. In addition, the Sleep Disorder Center offers BPAP, an auto-adjusting Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure system for adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

How do I prepare for my sleep test?

Patients should wear loose, comfortable clothing. Do not take any sleeping medication and do not drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages before the test.

What is a sleep disorder?

More than 100 different disorders of sleeping and waking have been identified. They can be grouped in four main categories:

  • Problems with falling and staying asleep
  • Problems with staying awake
  • Problems with adhering to a regular sleep schedule
  • Sleep-disruptive behaviors



For more information, call the Sleep Disorder Center at (970) 479-7218. Always talk to your primary health care physician about your health concerns. Your physician can refer you to the Sleep Disorder Center.