A Night at the Lab

Sleep studies usually take place at night but can occur during the day for those who are shift workers. Typically, you will be scheduled to come in for a sleep study approximately 1 hour before your usual bedtime.

Your arrival at the lab

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When you arrive at the sleep center, you will be asked prior to your sleep study to complete a questionnaire on your daytime activity. Then, you will be asked to change into your sleeping clothes, and the technician will provide additional information about the sleep study or specific disorders. The Tech will also address what you should expect during the sleep test to ease any anxieties or fears that you may have.

While the Tech is providing additional information, he or she will connect you to the electrodes that will monitor you throughout the night. The electrodes are placed in specific areas and applied with water-soluble glue and tape. The electrodes record brain waves, muscle movement, rapid eye movement (REM), and limb movement. A nasal cannula monitors airflow, a microphone records snoring, and two belt-like straps around the chest and lower abdomen monitor muscle movement during breathing.


During your sleep study:

You will sleep in your own private room. We have attempted to make the surroundings as comfortable as possible. If you have a particular pillow or blanket that you find comfortable to sleep with, please feel free to bring it with you for you sleep study. You may read in bed or in the waiting area prior to the start of the sleep study or if you have difficulty getting to sleep.

You will be able to sleep in any position, turn over in bed and get up to use the bathroom. You may feel strange at first with the electrodes on you skin, however, most people do not find them an obstacle to falling asleep. The sleep specialist recognizes that you may not sleep in the lab exactly as you do at home, but in most cases this does not cause a problem in obtaining the necessary information from your study. The Tech encourages patients to inform them if something is uncomfortable so that it can be fixed to help you sleep better.

After settling into bed, your technician will go to a monitoring room and ask you over an intercom to perform certain tasks that will indicate that the electrodes are working properly. After all equipment has been checked the lights will be turned off and you will be able to go to sleep.


Once you fall asleep:

Your physical sleep will be recorded. Although sleep is a time of rest, some of the body systems are actually more active during sleep than when awake. Many parts of the brain control and influence the different stages of sleep. These sleep stages include drowsiness (stage 1 sleep), light sleep (stage 2), deep sleep (slow wave sleep), and rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep - the sleep stage of greater dream awareness). We can tell which stage of sleep a person is in by measuring different activities of the brain and body. These activities include brain waves, eye movements, and muscle tone.

The morning after your sleep study:

You will be awakened in the morning and the electrodes will be removed. If you would like to take a shower, private shower facilities are available. At the end of the appointment you will be asked to complete a questionnaire concerning your sleep that night. Then you are free to leave.

Based on the results of your sleep study you will be provided with appropriate treatment specific to your sleep disorder. Someone will contact you to give you your results and to provide you with additional instructions regarding your care. In most cases there may need to be a follow-up appointment to discuss your results and recommendations for treatment.

A Sleep Study

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A sleep study (called a polysomnogram or PSG for short) is a test that records your physical state during various stages of sleep and wakefulness. A sleep study is commonly performed to investigate various symptoms that fall into a pattern indicating the presence of a physical sleep disorder. Of the dozen symptoms listed below, each one may be caused, in part, by a physical sleep disorder. PSG is the best test to diagnosis a physical sleep disorder.


A sleep study is commonly performed to investigate the following symptoms:


  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Breathing disruption episodes during sleep
  • Snoring
  • Difficulty with Concentration and Memory
  • Morning Headaches
  • Waking up at night to use the bathroom
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Insomnia and unexplained awakenings
  • Leg jerks / restless legs at night
  • Abnormal behaviors at night (e.g. sleepwalking)

Things to do on the day of your test

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- Continue to take your regular medications unless otherwise directed by a doctor.
- Limit your caffeine intake the day of your test.*
- Limit your naps the day of your test.*
*If possible, we recommend no caffeine or naps the day of the test, but if you might become to sleepy to drive, then use caffeine or take a nap to insure your safety.

Prior to reporting to the sleep center

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The following preparations should be made just before your overnight stay:
- Shower and shampoo your hair.
- Avoid using anything on your hair after it has been cleaned and dried such as gels, creams, or hair sprays.
- Do not wear makeup or jewelry
- Do not use creams or lotions on your face or body.
- Remove nail polish and/or artificial nails from at least one finger. The oximeter that is placed on your finger to monitor blood oxygen levels reads this information through the nail, so any polish or acrylic will not provide an accurate reading.

List of items to bring to your sleep test

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1. Nightgown, pajamas or any comfortable, loose sleepwear.
2. Your favorite pillow or blanket. We provide bedding including sheets, blankets and pillows, but your pillow or blanket may help you sleep better.
3. Toiletries such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush or comb. We have a shower, towels, and soap to use in the morning after your test.
4. Clothes for the following day.
5. All needed medications.
5. A book or other reading material
6. A snack if you desire. There is a refrigerator and microwave available for your use.