Sleep Onset

Last Updated: January 6, 2019

Definition - What does Sleep Onset mean?

Sleep onset is a calibrated period of time measured and recorded in thirty-second intervals called epochs during any sleep stage to assess normal or abnormal circadian biorhythm cycles. When individuals sleep, a number of regular biological, neurological and physiological functions occur including brainwave activity, autonomous breathing patterns, heart rate fluctuations, frequent body movements, dream episodes, and restorative homeostatic processes. Sleep is divided into four stages beginning with non-rapid eye movement (NREM) subset cycles including N1, N2, and N3 before transitioning to the rapid eye movement (REM) deep sleep cycle.

WorkplaceTesting explains Sleep Onset

Individuals can experience different sleep patterns that can affect the quality of their health based on variables that include lifestyle habits, job circumstances, and potential sleep disorder(s). In polysomnography, a sleep technologist documents sleep onset epochs as markers to account for any and all biorhythm deviations connected to erratic sleep patterns. For this reason, patients are generally required to follow set guidelines prior to undergoing a sleep testing procedure to generate accurate results.

Many individuals suffer from undiagnosed sleep disorders, which can interfere with daily personal activities and professional obligations at work. Common sleep disorders can include obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), restless legs syndrome (RLS), insomnia, and shift work syndrome. Sleep technologists administer a polysomnogram to identify the causal nature underlying various signs and symptoms that can explain sleep onset transitions occurring at different stages. For instance, infants and narcoleptics tend to enter an immediate REM deep sleep stage compared to a majority of people who gradually pass from NREM N1 following its successive cycles until reaching REM deep sleep mode.

In the workplace, employees with sleep disorders can lead to economic downturns, limited productivity, high injury rates, and increased worker’s compensation costs. For instance, individuals with obstructive sleep apnea experience abrupt breathing cessation spells during the night, often translating to compromised job performance capabilities. Commercial drivers are susceptible to jeopardizing both individual and public health and safety on the road. Before testing, a positive airway pressure (PAP) device might be provided to regulate the breathing cycle. This method allows sleep technologists and doctors to interpret sleep onset epoch readings with facility and precision.

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