What to Expect at Your Sleep Study

Preparing for a sleep study:

When preparing for a sleep study, be sure to maintain your normal nighttime sleeping habits and try to avoid any daytime naps the night before and the day of your test. Your study should fit into your normal, daily routine.

On the day of your sleep study, avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soda and chocolate) after 2pm and try not to nap. Please avoid alcoholic beverages within 8 hours of your scheduled sleep study. 

Before coming to the sleep center, wash you hair with shampoo only, dry your hair and do not apply hair sprays, oils or gels. Electrode monitors will be applied to your head. Please do not wear a hairpiece or wig to the lab.

It is important for your sleep professional to know if you are taking any prescribed or over-the-counter medication. Certain medications can affect sleep and the interpretation of a sleep study. Do not discontinue any prescription medication without first talking with your healthcare provider.

Pack an overnight bag as you would for an overnight stay at a hotel. You may bring your own pillow and extra clothing. Bring your medications if you will need them in the time you are away from home. If you have special needs, advise the sleep center personnel so they can accommodate you.

Arrival for a sleep study at the Sleep Disorders Center at Springfield Clinic:

You will report to the Springfield Clinic Main Campus, East Building, 1st floor, 1025 South Sixth Street. Security or someone from the Sleep Center will meet you on your time of arrival.  When you arrive at the center (between 9pm and 10pm) the technician will greet you and show you to your bedroom. You will be shown the equipment that will be used and given a chance to ask questions. You should inform the technician of any changes in your sleep or specific difficulties you have not already discussed with your healthcare provider. There may be some paperwork for you to complete. 

Approximately two dozen sensors are applied to the skin of your head and body. The placement takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Flexible elastic belts around your chest and abdomen measure your breathing. A clip to your finger monitors the level of oxygen in your blood and your heart rate. If you have questions or concerns about the application of the electrodes (if, for example, you use a hearing aid, wear a hairpiece or are sensitive to certain chemicals), contact your doctor or speak with the technician before you arrive at the center. Please note that one technologist is assigned to two patients and will be going back and forth between patients. 

Most patients fall asleep quickly and sleep very well. The sensors are applied in a manner that allows you to move around and to get comfortable. We strive to make the environment here as comfortable as possible and similar to a home-type surrounding.

During a sleep study:

The technicians are working all night while you sleep to make sure that you are safe and also monitor your sleep. They and their technical equipment will be in a room separate from your sleeping room.

You will be able to roll over and change positions almost as easily as you would at home You should feel free to sleep in your customary position although during the night a sleep technician may ask you to try to spend some time sleeping on your back. Your sleep may also be videotaped for later review of any abnormalities observed during the study. 

While you are sleeping, various important body functions and measurements are monitored and recorded. If a breathing problem is observed during your study, the technician may awake you, and a CPAP device will be applied.

This device, called a positive airway pressure (PAP) device, includes a small mask that fits over your nose and/or mouth and/or soft silicone nasal pillows that fit to your nostrils. If you will be trying PAP during your sleep study night, the technician will find a mask in advance that will fit comfortably, and will usually give you a chance to practice with the device before you go to bed. 

 If you need to go to the bathroom while the sleep study is underway all you need to do is say out loud that you need to go to the bathroom. The technician will hear you and come in and unplug you from the box and you are then free to get up. Most patients have to get up at least once during the night.

After a sleep study:

The sleep study and its analysis and interpretation are part of a complex process. Many hours of work are required by specifically trained professionals in order to fully understand the significant amount of data gathered from you during the night. A sleep technologist processes or “scores” the largest amount of data recorded during the study. A sleep physician with special knowledge of sleep and its disorders then interprets the information. 

A typical sleep study comprises approximately 1,000 pages of data of various kinds of (for example, brain waves, muscle movements, and eye movements) that must be reviewed in detail. Because this is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, it may take some time to receive the results of your study. A representative from the sleep center should be able to give you an idea when the results will be available. 

Your polysomnogram record will be scored by a qualified technologist and then interpreted by a board certified sleep physician of the Sleep Disorders Center. The information will then be used to provide a diagnosis and recommended course of treatment. The report will then be available to the ordering physician.