I recently had to get a sleep test (SPOILER ALERT – it turns out I have severe sleep apnea). I was worried the entire time leading up to it about my ability to even doze, much less enter the kind of deep slumber I assumed they would need to detect abnormalities in the REM cycle, also known the mystical… dream sleep. I had no problems dreaming, but they would be better classified as “hallucinations”. I discovered that I tend to go a little crazy strapped in one position for hours on end, especially with the added pressure of having to eventually fall asleep when one is not sleepy at all.
The first step was wiring me up to several electrodes, the ones on my head having to be applied with a thick glue substance. At some point in the night, a drop began to inch down and across my face like a slow, confused worm. I was not physically restricted enough that I could not wipe it away with my forehand, but I had become so convinced I was undergoing some sort of torture that I would “lose” if I brushed it off.
Much of that abused mentality was due to the fact I watched the season finale of reality show “The Housewives of New Jersey” before I turned off the light. It was not readily apparent who these women were, if they were really housewives or really lived in New Jersey – only that one of them saw fit to let her children sit at the table while she “joked” about her husband raping her when she was drugged up after her breast implant operation, but she told the children to leave when a discussion about the destructive power of gossip came up. I’m not phased by too much on television, but presumably because of the circumstances, I couldn’t stop thinking about these ladies – I began to focus and hate, then focus my hate, then hate my focus – my thoughts began to spin wildly out of control to other subjects as well. Soon, my legs were shaking with frustration and anger (SPOLER ALERT – i was also diagnosed with “concurrent movement periodic limb disorder”). I have my doubts to the validity of this finding – my kicking was largely voluntary.
The electrodes on my legs actually got pulled off a few times. This led to Brian, the technician, sneaking into the room to reattach them. A large black man sporadically sneaking into the room and pulling down my covers was another big reason I had trouble falling asleep. No, I am not racist, and I was not having flashbacks to prison (I have never been incarcerated)… It was more about my flashbacks to my childhood.
By 4am it was looking like I was not going to fall asleep at all. As the air conditioning came on causing the ceiling fan to start squeaking again (a curious feature for a room designed to facilitate sleep, for sure), I seriously considered ripping off all the wires and running out. This was right after I seriously considered masturbating to achieve some sort of drowsiness, even though I was being monitored by a camera and microphones. At that point Brian came in again to “adjust” something – foiled again, guy, I was still awake!
I did ask him if I could have taken an Ambien – I had assumed they needed a natural sample of my sleeping and not the stoned version where I vocally marvel at the shadow puppets on the wall before drifting off. He said I could have taken one, but did not recommend doing that now since it was so late. I took one as soon as he left.
He woke me up two hours later and gave me a glass of orange juice. I almost passed out several times on the way home, but I had given them 2 hours of deep sleep and enough evidence for a diagnosis (which you already know if you’ve heard the spoilers). I’m not totally convinced of their competency, though, as there was no mention at all in the report of when I was wide awake, but began to fake-snore for about 10 minutes to see if I could fool them. I guess I did.