Tonight, while everyone else is recovering from post-Super Bowl festivities, someone will be spying on me while I sleep.
Hold on — don’t call the police! The spying activity is taking place amongst two consenting adults. And now your mind wanders in another direction! OK, a more boring explanation is clearly needed now: I am currently taking the sleep study test that I referred to in an earlier post. (Well, I am not quite taking it, otherwise I would not be writing right now! But I’m about to take it!) My objective for pursuing this test is to determine if I am experiencing any night-time oxygen deficiencies that could provide an alternative explanation for my thinning RNFL.
Thankfully, a sleep study is completely painless. No blood is drawn, no reflexes are checked and no weigh-in is required. The technician spent about 30 minutes hooking a large number of wires to my scalp, legs, forehead and chin. One elastic band went around my belly, another around my upper chest. A plastic thingy was inserted up my nose by a centimeter or so, and there is a thing that hangs down over my mouth, which I strongly suspect to be a microphone. We spent about 10 minutes checking out the equipment and doing calibration activities (move your left foot, now your right. Move your eyes to the left, now to the right).
All that remains now is for me to declare myself sleepy and ready for bed, and then this bundle of wires will get plugged in, and the data starts being recorded. Apparently a sleep doctor (what exactly would be the technical term for doctors/researchers in this field of study? Snoozeologists? Slumberjacks?!) will be monitoring the data through the night, and writing up the report. The technician told me that there is a huge variance in brain waves amongst different people, even when there isn’t a sleep problem present, and therefore the interpretation of the data must be done by a human rather than by some automated algorithm. As an astronomer, I’ve put in many all-nighters “on the job”, but I can’t imagine trying to stay awake while watching someone get their zzzz’s on. I’m guessing that Starbucks does a pretty good business around here!
I’ll get the report on test results in about 3 weeks. A good outcome would be the discovery that I am indeed oxygen-deficient during sleep, thus determining the “smoking gun” to my optic neuropathy, for which there is (hopefully) a straightforward fix.
My eyelids are feeling heavy. Time to commence data collection!