Multiple Sleep Latency Testing (MSLT)

Understanding your excessive daytime sleepiness
- Dr. James A. Barker

Portrait of Dr. James A. BarkerOne of the sleep testing modes we offer at the Scott & White Sleep Institute is called MSLT, Multiple Sleep Latency Testing. These are day studies that are done in a standardized pattern so that any sleep physician across the U.S. can understand the data and information for accurate diagnoses. 

For the test, at exactly every two hours for four or five naps, you will be asked to lie quietly on your bed and fall asleep if you feel like it. 

Sound like a very odd form of testing? Interestingly enough, specific findings will occur if you have narcolepsy disorder. Narcolepsy is an autosomal dominant inherited sleep disorder in which REM sleep is not normal. People with narcolepsy are excessively sleepy making it hard for them to have normal lives. There is effective therapy for narcolepsy with medical choices.

Other patterns of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) can also be determined from multiple sleep latency testing’s. We do several of these tests per week. We will make sure that you have a pleasant experience. There are no needles!

Some people have EDS, just because they never get enough sleep. In fact, insufficient sleep is probably the most common sleep disorder in the U.S. We are all caught up in our "hurry, hurry, rush, rush lifestyle" and think sleep is a waste of time. Instead, we should think of sleep as being very important to how we recharge our batteries so we can have fulfilling happy lives. Everyone needs seven and a half or eight hours of sleep per night.

Sometimes the MSLT will show that you fall asleep on the first nap or two and then after that it won't. Insufficient sleep strikes again!

Several other disorders can be determined by evaluation of the MSLT.

Typically, a person has a sleep study the night before. However, if you have had a sleep study within the last year and it was essentially normal but we are now seeing that you have EDS, we can proceed straight to an MSLT.

Dr. James Barker, Director of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Disorders Medicine at Scott & White, treats patients with abnormal chest x-ray, asthma, bronchiectasis, COPD, cough, insomnia, neuromuscular weakness (post-polio syndrome), pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, shortness of breath (dyspnea) and sleep disorders.


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