Sleep Study

What Exactly Is A Sleep Study?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that needs to be treated. The most common test to determine if a person has sleep apnea is by undergoing a sleep study. Sleep studies are tests that record what happens to your body when you are asleep. The studies are done to find out what is causing your sleep problems.

Sleep Study to Test For Sleep Apnea Here is a diagram of a person being hooked up in preparation for a sleep study.

Sleep studies can also determine whether you have a problem with your stages of sleep. The two main types of sleep are non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). A change in this cycle may also make it hard for you to sleep soundly.

The most common form of sleep study is called a Polysomnogram. This type of test is usually done by a trained sleep lab technician in a special sleep lab, usually scheduled for evening and night hours between 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. You would normally arrive at the sleep clinic around 10 p.m. and complete some paperwork. Once the paperwork is completed, you are then taken into a private room where you change into suitable clothing for bedtime.

Here is a short video on what you can expect when going for a sleep study. As well, the video also explains what the technician or doctor is looking for during the test.

Electrode Hookup

Small pads or patches called electrodes will be placed on your head and body with a small amount of glue and tape. The process of preparing you with all the electrodes takes upwards of 45 medical device used in testing for a sleep study minutes. These electrodes record several body functions during sleep, including brain activity, eye movement, oxygen and carbon dioxide blood levels, heart rate and rhythm, breathing rate and rhythm, the flow of air through your mouth and nose, snoring, and body muscle movements. There are two soft elastic belts that are also used in the test. One will be placed around your chest and the other around your belly to measure your breathing. Your blood oxygen levels will be checked by a small clip (oximeter) placed either on the tip of your index finger or on your earlobe.

Once all the electrodes and belts have been attached, the technician will want to test to make sure the equipment is working correctly. At the beginning of the test, the technician will ask you to do things such as blink your eyes, move your legs, and hold your breath.

When you are ready and the equipment is working correctly, the lights will be turned off, and you can go to sleep. For most polysomnogram studies, you will need to spend at least 6 hours overnight in the sleep lab. The room also has a camera which will allow the technician to monitor you while you sleep.

When The Sleep Study is Completed

After the sleep study test is over, the technician will remove all the electrodes and ask you to complete some final paperwork. You are then free to leave. It’s best to go home and shower and shampoo to remove the glue from your hair and body. Hair conditioner may also help get the glue out of your hair. The results of your sleep study test will be sent to your sleep specialist who will go over the results with you at a follow up appointment.

 

30 thoughts on “Sleep Study

  1. Neil

    I really found your sleep study article to be very useful because I struggle to sleep most nights due to waking up after having nightmares and hallucinating too.

    I really do get irritated with the whole lack of sleep thing, and I go to work feeling tired which is not good for health either.

    Maybe I should see a doctor about it and ask them to study my sleeping patterns.

    Thanks!
    Neil

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Neil,

      Thanks for the comment! I was having the same problems as you described, maybe not the nightmares because I was waking up so often, but I was definitely tired everyday and it got very frustrating. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a sleep specialist. It’s important to get tested! Good luck to you.

      Regards,

      Shawn

      Reply
  2. NemiraB

    Hello, thanks for explanation how a sleep study is done.
    I heard about it, but not so detailed story as it is here, in your arctic is e written.
    I wonder how people can register for it, if they have problems with sleep?
    Does insurance covers it?
    I wonder why people have problems with sleep? Do they eat before sleep or watch horrible movies?
    I know that simple habits as going to sleep at the same time to bed, taking melatonin pills, having a walk before sleep helps improve quality of sleep.
    Anyway, it is good to know how sleep study is performed, what we can expect during this experiment.
    Thanks, all the best, Nemira.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Nemira,

      Thanks very much for the comments and I’ll try and answer your questions for you. First of all, you need to get referred to a sleep specialist by your doctor. That process can take several months before you see the sleep specialist. I live in Ottawa, Canada, so I’m not sure how your insurance would work, but my insurance here covered the cost of my visit to the sleep specialist. I never watched horrible movies so I know that wasn’t a reason for my sleep disorder. I know that if I ate after 8:00 pm, there would be a very good chance I would get acid reflux (severe heartburn). This have been proven to be a symptom of sleep apnea. I agree with you regarding some of the simple habits you mentioned. Unfortunately for me, none of those worked and that is why I wear a CPAP machine when I sleep.

      Regards,

      Shawn

      Reply
  3. Wendy

    Hi Shawn,

    Excellent site you have here. Very well laid out and easy to read. I have often wondered if I have sleep apnea. They only did the monitor on one finger and the readings were all over the map – probably because I don’t sleep well with one hand hanging off the side of the bed. I do have a question. When you go for the sleep study are you required to sleep on your back? I sleep on my side and would have difficulty if that’s the case. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Shawn

      Hi Wendy,
      Thanks very much for the feedback! You don’t have to sleep on your back during the sleep study. I was concerned about that as well because I usually fall asleep on my side. They ask that you be on your back at the start when they test the connections of the electrodes but after that you can sleep on your side. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  4. Alyssa

    I have a few friends who suffer from sleep apnea but I didn’t realize exactly what it is. The sleep study doesn’t sound as intimidating as I thought. But, I wonder if its hard to fall asleep all wired up like that? What are some common symptoms of sleep apnea? For example, what kinds of sleep patterns or day time symptoms might I experience that would indicate that I need to go to a sleep study?
    Thanks.
    Alyssa

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Alyssa,

      Thanks for the comments! You’re right, you don’t get the best of sleep when you’re all hooked up but the electrodes are necessary to help determine your sleeping patterns. Some of my common symptoms include being overweight, loud snoring when asleep (my wife will attest to that), and stopping breathing when you’re asleep (I was tested at 35 times an hour). My main day time symptoms were that I was always exhausted during the day, despite being asleep for 8+ hours a night. I would have to have a nap when I got home from work. There is a symptoms link on my website that provides more information about symptoms and risks. If you have any of those symptoms you may want to ask your doctor for a referral to a sleep specialist. I hope I’ve answered your questions.

      Regards,

      Shawn

      Reply
  5. Lucas

    This is a relevant article for many people. I think there are more people out there that have sleep problems than we realize. Sometimes I stay awake later than I should, and I definitely can tell the next day. Last night I was up until almost 5 in the morning working on building my website. I am feeling pretty tired today.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Lucas,

      You’re absolutely right!! More and more people are being diagnosed with it, but only after they have been for a sleep study. Unfortunately, you don’t notice the symptoms because they happen when you’re asleep. As far as staying awake until 5 am, I’m afraid that is self-inflicted and not necessarily a result of sleep apnea!!! For a lot of people though, getting a little more sleep may be the answer they need, but for a lot of others, that just won’t help them.

      Regards,

      Shawn

      Reply
  6. thadpoore

    Good informative read, I often hear people talk about sleep apnea, but never really looked into it.
    I personally do not have this because I’m so tired at the end of every day, but one of my friends is.

    Anyways, besides the content, your site looks really good and visually pleasing. Very professional.

    Thanks for the good read:)
    Thad – Gymbulk fitness

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Thad,

      I appreciate your feedback! I hope that you never have sleep apnea, but it is more common than you think. A lot of people have it and they don’t know it, because the symptoms don’t appear until you’re asleep. Best regards,

      Shawn

      Reply
  7. Gina

    I think it’s so interesting how these sleep studies are done, but I am wondering one thing. Are you given something to sleep or expected to sleep on your own? I’d think that it would be an altered sleep study if the patient were to take some kind of drug but I can’t imagine being able to sleep there. I have trouble sleeping in my own bed… maybe I should try a sleep study.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Gina,

      I can speak from personal experience, but I was not given anything to sleep. Granted, it was not a long sleep (approx. 5 hours) and being hooked up to all the electrodes didn’t really allow for a great sleep, but I fell asleep on my own.

      Hope that answers your question.

      Regards,

      Shawn

      Reply
  8. wesley

    Hi Shawn,
    You have put up a very neat and clean website. Simple and easy to navigate around. Your article on sleep study is very interesting. Is there any way to prevent sleep apnea? For example diets control or sleep pattern?

    Reply
    1. Shawn

      Hi Wesley,
      Thank you very much for your comments. I was able to write the article on the sleep study because I went through one myself about a week before so it was still fresh in my mind. Certainly, diet and weight control would have a big impact on it. However, I do know some people who have sleep apnea and aren’t overweight, so there must be some other contributing factors.
      All the best,
      Shawn

      Reply
  9. Alisa

    Hello Shawn,
    This was very informative and I know some people that struggle sleep apnea and use the machine. They also struggle with losing weight and giving up smoking. I get concerned about people that use the different juices and things (not sure of the proper name) with the electronic cigarettes and the long term affects these chemicals can have on them. Many of the people I know with sleep apnea were heavy smokers at one time. I wish you well and your site looks great and easy to read and get around!
    Alisa

    Reply
    1. Shawn

      Hi Alisa,
      I appreciate your comments! I know first hand the struggles of losing weight. Thankfully I don’t smoke but I do notice more and more people using those electronic cigarettes. I’ve never tried one, but I’m not sure how they could be a substitute for smoking.
      Best regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  10. LeNard

    Shawn,

    It is nice to me you. We follower each other on WA and I look forward to working with you. may God keep blessing you. LeNard

    Reply
    1. Shawn

      It’s nice to meet you as well LeNard! I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  11. Denise

    Hi Shawn. Thanks for sharing your insights on the Sleep Study process. I had one done and was disapointed with the results. It was simple for me to get the referral as well as have my insurance at the time pay for it. I think I actually fell asleep at 5:00 and the study was over at 6:00 when I was awakened. This is actually what happens with me every night. I am still exhausted five years later. The conclusion was that I do not have sleep apnea, but bottom line I continue to experience sleep disturbance, insomnia. I felt taken advantage of for the insurance payoff, and feeling I got nothing in return.

    Your website is a welcome example of how to cover a topic from a person perspective. The business of medicine in the USA with doctors that offer little but referrals on individual symptoms is so frustrating. It is surprising that the process of good health monitoring can take years to just stabilize once all the facts are in. All the best wishes for your continued efforts with your website. Denise

    Reply
    1. Shawn

      Hi Denise,
      Thank you for your comments! I am sorry to hear your sleep study didn’t go very well. Almost sounds like it was a waste of time for you. Did you actually start the sleep study earlier and just couldn’t get to sleep? I know that you don’t tend to sleep very well at these things because of all the wires hooked up to you. I’ve been for two sleep studies now and something similar happened to me at the first one. They told me that I didn’t have sleep apnea even though my wife was convinced I did. I went for my second sleep study almost six years later and it was finally confirmed that I had sleep apnea. Is there another clinic that you could go to for another test or would you have to wait for a period of time? You shouldn’t have to be exhausted for five years, or longer. That just doesn’t seem right!
      I wish you good luck and hope that you are able to get a proper sleep study done so that you can get treated.
      Best regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  12. Isa

    Thank you Shawn for explaining about sleep apnea, how to diagnose it and the treatment of this condition. With all this electrodes and monitors how where you able to sleep ?. I do not have this problem, one of my relatives may have it and I do not know when they will do the test yet.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Isa,
      Thank you for your comments! Yes, I was able to sleep, however it wasn’t a very long sleep. By the time they finished hooking up all the electrodes and testing everything to make sure they were working properly, it was after midnight before I was told I could go to sleep and then they woke me up at 6 am and told me the test was over! I do know other people who got even less sleep just because they couldn’t get comfortable hooked up to all the electrodes. Please let your friend know about my site! I hope they can find some information on it that is useful to them.
      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  13. christinamk

    My dad has sleep apnea and he had to go have a sleep study done. He ended up getting a sleep mask and that helped him a lot. I can’t imagine having to sleep in some unknown place knowing that someone is studying me! It is important to get it done done though so that you are able to get the proper treatment.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Thank you for your comments. I’m glad that the CPAP mask is working for your dad. I know it has really helped me as well. It’s funny, I didn’t have a problem sleeping at the sleep clinic. It just wasn’t a very long sleep! By the time I had all the electrodes hooked up and tested it was almost midnight. Then I’m not sure how long it took for me to fall asleep but I was awakened at 6 am with the technician telling me that the test was complete. You are correct when you say that it’s important to get the proper treatment and it sounds like your dad has. That’s great news!

      Regards,

      Shawn

      Reply
  14. Steve

    Hi Shawn…

    Your site caught my attention…this is a subject which has intrigued me for quite awhile. I have always had problems with my sleep patterns. Some time ago a friend of mine suggested I should have one these ‘sleepovers’ but the whole idea of it did not appeal to me at all!

    Your article has explained clearly what I needed to know to now seriously contemplate a discussion with my GP…the video you supplied was fantastic as well…

    I do have one question…if I was to decide to go ahead and ask to undergo the study is there usually a waiting list or is it something that can be organized fairly quickly?

    Thanks again for your professional insight to a dilemma which confronts many people.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks very much for your comments! I’m glad you found the information useful. If you have had problems with your sleep, I would strongly recommend you talk to your doctor to arrange for a sleep study. I’m not sure where you live, but for me, by the time my doctor made the appointment, it took almost 10 months before I had it done, so you may want to consult with your doctor soon.
      I would be interested to know how things go for you.
      Good luck!
      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  15. Rob S.

    While I don’t have sleep apnea, I know a few people who do. This test sounds like there’s a lot involved, but I guess that’s to be expected. It appears to be a very thorough sleep test. While on occasion I may have had some problems with sleep, it was not sleep apnea. But this is good to know for the few people I know with it. The question I have is, what if you can’t sleep on your back? For me I can only sleep on my side. I was just wondering.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Rob!
      Thank you for your comments. There are a lot of wires that need to be hooked up to you for the sleep study. I was concerned about having to sleep on my back as well, because I normally sleep on my side as well. Thankfully, I was able to sleep on my side during the sleep study. The only thing about the sleep study, don’t expect to sleep very long. I think that by the time all the electrodes were hooked up and after the testing was done to make sure everything was working properly, I only got maybe 5 hours sleep when I normally get around 8 hours of sleep.
      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply

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