Having a Sleep Study

The following section is intended for the individual who will be having a sleep study in the near future.

Your physician has referred you to a sleep center for a sleep study. The objective of the sleep study is to determine if you have a sleep disorder. With this information, your doctor will be able to better understand the cause of your symptoms.

Going to the Sleep Center for a Sleep Study

Prior to coming to the sleep center, you will likely be given specific instructions. It is important that you follow all of the instructions to insure that the quality of the sleep study is adequate.

You should bring the same things to the sleep center as you would to a hotel. Bring pajamas, toiletries, and any medications that you usually take at nighttime. Unless instructed otherwise, avoid alcohol and caffeine.

You should shower prior to arriving.  Facial shaving prior to arriving will help to improve the connection of electrodes to the chin, and with other possible treatment options.

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Artificial nails and painted finger tips could interfere with the oximetry probe placed on the finger. You may be required to have unpainted, unenhanced finger tips prior to the sleep study.

What is it like to sleep in a sleep center?

Spending the night in the sleep center is a lot like staying at a hotel. In fact, many sleep centers are designed to resemble hotels. Some are actually located in hotels.  The sleep lab usually consists of several patient bedrooms and a ‘master control room’ where the sleep technologist monitors the patient. The patient bedroom has a bed and special equipment next to the bed that assists in the monitoring of sleep patterns.

You will probably be instructed to arrive around 7 pm.  Your technologist will show you to your bedroom where you will change into pajamas. After getting settled, the sleep technologist will have you sit while electrodes and other devices are attached to your body. This is a painless process.

What is a Sleep Study? Do I Need One?

The tech will apply electrodes to your scalp with a conducting and adhesive paste. This is for monitoring your brain waves during sleep. A few electrodes will be attached near your eyes for monitoring eye movements. Electrodes will be taped to your chin to monitor muscle tone. A plastic probe will be taped near your nostrils and mouth to monitor breathing and airflow. This may resemble an oxygen cannula.

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A  microphone will be taped near your throat to monitor snoring. Two elastic belts will be clipped around your chest and abdomen to monitor breathing effort. More electrodes will be taped to both legs to look at leg muscle movements. A light emitting probe will be attached to one of your fingers to help assess oxygen levels in your body.

All of these wires will be plugged in to a small box that you will carry around with you until you are ready for bedtime.  By this time, you will be covered in dozens of wires, and may feel that you resemble a creature from a sci-fi movie. You might think that you won’t be able to sleep with all of the wires on. Most likely, you will sleep.

When you are ready for sleep, your technologist will plug your box into the wall, and you can sleep like you usually do.  If you need to go to the bathroom during the middle of the night, you might have a buzzer to ring, so that the tech can be notified to remove you from the equipment. When you wake up in the morning, you can change back into your daytime clothes and resume your typical schedule. The sleep center, or your doctor, will contact your with the results of your sleep study.

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