What Is The Multiple Sleep Latency Test All About?

Many people haven't heard of the multiple sleep latency test, but it's an excellent way to help diagnose, understand, and improve certain sleep issues

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January 30, 2020
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Due to the innumerable stresses and tensions of contemporary life as well as the distraction offered by gadgets like television and mobile phones, getting adequate and good quality sleep has become a big concern all over the world. Of course, certain ailments can also lead to a lack of adequate sleep or even excessive daytime sleep. To deal with these problems, doctors and sleep scientists have designed several tests to help them to diagnose properly the reasons for sleep disorders so that they can suggest the most effective therapy. One popular test is the MSLT for excessive sleepiness during the daytime.

Typical Patient Profile for MSLT

People, who generally tend to feel sleepy during the daytime without any particular reason or find them sleepy in surroundings where the rest of the people are awake and alert, are good candidates for undergoing an MSLT. The test becomes especially important for those who feel sleepy while engaged in critical work that requires them to stay alert and in full control of their senses like operating heavy machinery or driving vehicles. Suspicion of certain conditions like idiopathic hypersomnia, which is extreme sleepiness without cause and narcolepsy, which is excessive daytime sleepiness due to a neurologic disease can also prompt doctors to recommend an MSLT. According to CNN Edition, daytime sleepiness in the elderly could be an indication of Alzheimer’s. The details of the research are available on The Multiple Sleep Latency Test | Tuck Sleep website.

How Is the MSLT Conducted?

Normally patients experiencing sleepiness during the day undergo a polysomnography (PSG), which is an overnight test for monitoring sleep cycles and sleep stages before undertaking the Multiple Sleep Latency Test. Typically, the testing lasts the entire duration of the day, which includes five naps with the gap between each being two hours. Patients falling asleep are woken up if they have slept for 15 minutes; however, if the patient has remained awake for 20 minutes, the scheduled nap is canceled. Sensors are placed on the head and face of the patient undergoing the test to monitor when he is awake or sleeping, as well as his REM (rapid eye movement). It is common for audio and video recordings to be taken of the test together with the monitoring of the patient with an electrocardiogram (EKG), electroencephalogram (EEG), rate of breathing, level of oxygen, and movement of the extremities.

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Measuring the Results of MSLT

Two measurements are of critical importance in MSLT. In each of the five napping sessions, both the time taken for the patient to fall asleep or latency and the time taken to reach REM sleep are measured. If the mean latency recorded is below eight minutes and the patient can achieve REM sleep in only one session, it can indicate the probability of idiopathic hypersomnia while sub-eight minute latency with two REM sleep naps can indicate narcolepsy.

Conclusion 

Unlike the problems that insomniacs have, the potential hazard faced by those who feel inordinately sleepy during the daytime when they have responsibilities that necessitate them to stay alert is much more. The repercussions of falling asleep on the job that requires mental alertness can be extremely dangerous. If you are constantly feeling sleepy during the daytime, you should consult your doctor who may recommend a PSG followed by an MSLT to find out the cause.