There are a series of tests that we use in sleep clinics. One of these tests is the one that patient marks the times he completed at home and felt as he slept on tables in 24-hour scala and it is very informative for physicians eho are interested in sleep. As a result of this table called as “Sleep Agenda”, we can how much time the patient felt as slept in his usual environment.
In sleep clinics, we have other tests that we use for subjective assessments. In another shorter-term test a test filled, for example; in the morning after patient spent the night at hospital the form is filled and it is asked how long the patient was asleep,how many hours he slept, how many times and how long he woke up during the night. Thus, data detected in the laboratory data and the sleep that the patient felt can be compared.
In the last 10 years, sleep researchers has astonished to see that; sleep data known by patients and detected in laboratory is not compatible with each other. First, physicians even accused patients for being liar, but later it is understood slowly that; there are many patalogies under this incompatibility.
It was seen in the studies that; the sleep time felt by healthy persons who are subject of experiment and do not have any complaint and also reported that they sleep well is a little bit diffferent from the times determined in laboratory. For example, when experiment subjects in the laboratory were awoken 5 minutes after they sleep and asked whether they were sleeping, they said that they were about to sleep. This shows that; people do not perceive that they slept if a certain amount of time did not pass after they fall asleep.
However, inconsistency between objective and subjective data of the patients whose insolmnia complaint is examined; is at more advanced level compared to normal experiment subjects. Even some patients suffering from insomnia may report that they did not sleep at all after a period of sleep recording close to normal.
In a study conducted in the UK, data of 18 persons who reported as slept well and data of 18 persons who reported as slept bad were compared; it was found that, those slept well had slept only 28 minus more than the other group. Also, it was not determined any considerable difference between 2 groups in terms of their sleep phase rates. However, it was determined that; the group whose members reported as slept badly were awaken two times more than the other groupduring the night. Based on these data, we can say that; awakeness at night and while we fall asleep leads deterioration in the perception of sleep. From the same research it can be concluded that; sleep duration is not very important: the quality and continuity of sleep is more important than duration.
Regarding the perception of sleep; an example that we frequently see and we sometimes see in the press is the patients who claim that they did not sleep for years. As a said before; living without sleep is not possible. As mentioned in the previous section, as a result of passing several days without sleep, experiment subject persons show symptoms similar to psychosis. In animal experiments, animals die when their sleep deprived period is extended. Therefore, it is not possible to believe in the patients who claim that they do not sleep at all. When these people are examined in sleep laboratory, it is observed that they have a sleep pattern close to normal. However, the studies which will be conducted in the coming years will reveal the reason of sleep perception disorder that these patients are suffering.
Researches about sleep perception are conducted especially by performing detailed computerized analysis of brain waves. it is believed in the recent years that; the results of this researches will provide important improvements in the treatment of insomnia.
As a result, subjective data given by patients regarding their sleep should be taken seriously, laboratory finding must be compared to patient’s perceived sleep duration; it should be remembered that, any inconsistency between subjective and objective data must absolutely be because of a sleep patalogy. Because both data determined in sleep laboratory and patient’s feelings on his sleep are important.