Maintenance of Wakefulness Test Melbourne

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Have you been assigned to a maintenance of wakefulness test in Melbourne, and you’d like to know more? Maybe you’ve just heard of it and are curious about the process. Either way, this article aims to tell you everything you need to know about this procedure, including:

  • What it is
  • How it works
  • Who it helps
  • Where you can go if you need one, etc.

Before we start, it’s important to mention that an MWT is not a sleep study. Sleep studies, as their name suggests, are conducted while you sleep. MWTs are conducted while you are awake.

What is the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT)?

A maintenance of wakefulness test is a test that aims to monitor a person’s ability to stay awake during normal waking hours. The goal of an MWT is to obtain an objective measurement of wakefulness by repeatedly measuring a patient’s ability to stay awake and resist tiredness inside of a dark, quiet space.

The end result is an indication as to whether or not you are able to stay awake for a defined period of time, and therefore function and remain alert during quiet times of inactivity. Typically, an MWT will be performed in conjunction with a sleep test in order to provide a more complete analysis of the patient’s sleeping habits.

What is the process of the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test?

The MWT consists of four components known as wake trials.

The first trial is conducted between 90-180 minutes after the patient has woken up from their last major sleep period, and it involves the patient sitting in a dark room for 40 minutes, at which point the patient is supposed to stay awake. The trial ends either after the 40 minutes have transpired, or if the patient falls asleep for more than 90 seconds.

The other trials occur two hours after the previous trial, and operate in exactly the same way.

How do the results work?

In each wake trial, four measurements are made:

  • Start and end time of the trial
  • The total time spent asleep
  • The amount of time it took to fall asleep (a.k.a. sleep latency)

These results are then analysed by a board-certified sleep medicine physician. From these results, conclusions can be drawn. For example;

  • Falling asleep in less than eight minutes during a daytime test indicates excessive sleepiness and is part of the criteria for disorders such as narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia
  • In healthy sleepers, the average time it takes to fall asleep during a wake trial is approximately 30.4 minutes, give or take 11.2 minutes

What patients take the test?

Typically, there are two kinds of patients that get tested with an MWT:

  • Those with professions where drowsiness, limited alertness or falling asleep can be dangerous (e.g. truck drivers, pilots, air traffic controllers, jobs involving heavy machinery, etc.)
  • Those that have been undergoing treatment for a sleep disorder (such as CPAP therapy for someone with sleep apnoea), as the MWT can ascertain whether the current treatment plan is successful or needs alteration

What are the do’s and dont’s of the test?

When you have a MWT, it is recommended that you;

  • Do try and get a normal night’s worth of sleep the evening before the test
  • Do wear comfortable clothing (your regular street clothes should be fine)
  • Don’t consume any stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine before and/or during the test
  • Don’t nap in between trials
  • Don’t go outside in between trials (as light exposure influences wakefulness)

Not following these tips means nullifying the results of the test, which means that you’ll have to repeat the experiment at some point in the future.

How should you prepare for a Maintenance of Wakefulness Test in Melbourne?

There are a multitude of things you should do in order to prepare for a maintenance of wakefulness test, including:

  • Disclosing the following to your sleep specialist:
    • How well and how long you’ve been sleeping each night
    • Any sleep symptoms (e.g. excessive daytime tiredness, insomnia, etc.) that you have been experiencing
    • Any CPAP machine data you might have
    • Any medications you are currently taking
    • How often you consume caffeine, as well as the quantity you consume
    • Any atypical sleep patterns you might have
  • Follow any instructions your doctor gives you regarding sleep habits, eating habits, medication changes, and caffeine consumption in the two weeks prior to the test
  • Avoid any depressants; such as alcohol
  • Bring something to occupy your time in between wake trials, such as a book or a magazine (you might not be allowed to use digital devices)

Where can I go for a Maintenance of Wakefulness Test in Melbourne?

At Manse Medical, we provide both high-quality diagnosis and treatment for sleep disorders, and can therefore conduct tests such as the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test Melbourne. Book your appointment online by selecting your preferred clinic and choosing from the list of available specialists.

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