When I read the instruction guide for the sleep study, I figured it would be straightforward: go, wear some random equipment and sleep. Oh naive little me.
By the time check-in time came at 7:45 pm, I was freaking out. The prospect of not performing well, sleeping in a room watched by strangers and not snuggling with my hubby combined to make me less than pleasant. I made Varun walk me inside, something I think I haven’t done since kindergarten. I was issued my scrubs (ie, pyjamas) and instructed to wait in my bedroom to “get hooked up”. It turns out my scrubs were manufactured for two Amelia’s as I was swimming in the blouse and had to roll the pants several times in order to walk. But I felt so medical and intelligent. Anyway. I sat on my bed and waited. And waited. The technician came in to weigh me and take my height. I mentioned that the air conditioning was on…and could it not be? Her reply? The person in the room next to me sweats in their sleep and this cannot happen or the study will not work. This was the first sign of trouble. Amelia’s do not like the cold.
I waited until 11:15 pm (zoinks!) to get hooked up. As I entered the hook-up room, I knew I was in for a real treat. On the counter sat 20 gauze pads covered in thick goop. I sat in the chair and heard the words, “Okay, I’m just going to mark your head with a red crayon”. Sure, why not? In my head, I was beginning to think this sleep study was poorly scheduled: I had an exam the next morning and had to wake up at 5 am. I had to go to school, sans shower, after a night of having my head red-crayoned. But oh, it gets worse. Remember those gauze pads? Yeah, 20 electrodes were put into my scalp and secured with thick goop. I twisted my hairband in my hands wondering how I could disguise neosporin-like gel in my hair. A side ponytail? Pigtails? A giant sock? Next, more electrodes were attached to my collarbone. By now, streamers of coloured wire were running down my scrubs and pooling on the floor.
I was instructed to lift my pant leg while the technician asked, “Is it okay if I sand down your leg?”. This is actually one of those questions I didn’t have an answer for, because never in all of my life did I expect to hear that. Word to the wise: say no. Sanding one’s leg is just that: sand paper rubbed vigorously over non-moisturized skin. OMAGOSH.
Back in my bedroom/room of machines, the technician had to help me into bed so I didn’t get tangled in the wires. She plugged the wires into a machine that would measure my brain waves, movement, temperature, eye movement…Then, she strapped a belt over my abdomen and chest. Then she stuck something in my nostrils. Then she stuck something under my nostrils. I forgot to mention that the crayon/electrode combination was also applied to the area above my eyebrows and my jaw. Are you picturing this? Because by now, I look like a cross between Dr. Frankenstein’s monster and a woman with very, very frizzy hair that is sprouting coloured wires.
After a series of tests which included not blinking for 30 seconds, blinking, breathing, and holding my breath while moving my stomach in and out (try that one, it’s quite hard), the technician came in to say goodnight. I willed myself to sit up in my sleep. I looked at the camera over the bed and the darkened spotlight I knew was somehow illuminating me, and I begged myself to have a bad nights sleep.
And I did. But not the right bad sleep. (That’s confusing and hurts my head too).
Forced to sleep on my back and conscious of the 25 wires attached to various parts of my person, I didn’t get cozy. And I didn’t sit up. I had five hours to show my stuff, and I just laid there sleeping. Sigh.
In the morning, I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and thought, “Varun will be here in fifteen minutes to pick me and then I’m going to school. MUSH MUSH MUSH!” (This is what I tell myself to work harder. It comes from watching too many movies about dog sled racing when I was a small child. If you didn’t yet think I’m insane, that was your proof). I vigorously scrubbed red crayon off of my face and tried with a paper towel to get the gunk out of my bangs. Nothing doing. Panicked, I did the only thing I could think of: I left the electrodes on (no wires) and the gauze. I pulled my shirt over the ones on my chest, pulled my jeans over the ones on my calves, and pulled my hair into a bun that covered the chunks of gauze. I put on a headband, a ribbon (overkill, n’est-ce pas?) and bobbypinned my hair into place over the chunks of greasyness. Feel free to un-friend me at any time.
I was informed by the technician that I’ll get the results in 6 weeks. If there’s a problem, they’ll call me back in for another sleep test. I’m hoping that my sleep was weird enough that they could still notice something, like maybe what causes me to sit up…Or maybe I’ll outgrow that habit. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the bliss of a non-air conditioned room, and a raucous sleep filled with sitting up and non-greasy, non-electrodey hair.