October 1st, 2008
01:11 PM ET

Sleepless in Atlanta

By Georgiann Caruso
CNN Medical Associate Producer

Many of us wake up in the middle of the night making mental to-do lists. Sound familiar? I am guilty of this. A recent visit to my doctor ended with the diagnosis: anxiety. After trying an assortment of medications, I sometimes still wake up only to realize it's 4 a.m.

Dr. David Schulman, director of Emory's sleep lab center, says a third of Americans have insomnia, including trouble falling asleep as well as trouble staying asleep, a reflection of our high-stress society.

My doctor prescribed a sleep study, and today's the day. My mind is full of racing thoughts. What if I can't sleep to give them something to study? What exactly IS a sleep study, anyway?

Here’s how it went: Studies such as mine look at everything from stages of sleep to blood oxygen levels and the amount a person snores, says the National Sleep Foundation.

Attaching electrodes to my body - my legs, nose, temples and jaw area - took about 45 minutes. I had less trouble sleeping than I anticipated. The technician showed me a bit about how she could tell when I was asleep by watching my brain activity waves. A small video camera in the corner of the room allowed her to monitor me constantly. A two-way speaker system allowed me communicate with her. When I had to get up to use the restroom in the middle of the night, the technician easily unhooked and reconnected me.

Now, I have to wait a couple of weeks for the results. Sleeping while wired up was not nearly that bad in hopes of a real solution to a real problem.

Have you experienced problems sleeping? What did you do?

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.