Once you have Scheduled a Sleep Study
The sleep Evaluation
What to Expect when scheduled for a Home Sleep Apnea test
What to expect the night of the sleep study at a facility (polysomnogram)
- Arriving at the sleep center
- What to bring
- Your sleeping room
- Clothing for sleep
- Testing your sleep
- Will you sleep
- Problems during the night
- Getting to the bathroom
- The morning
- Special needs
The Sleep Evaluation
An evaluation will include a review of your history by a
sleep physician or provider (nurse practitioner or
physician’s assistant). The appointment for review of
your sleep problem will typically be scheduled during
the day. You should allow adequate time for this
appointment and the facility should give you an estimate
of how long it will take. Be prepared to fill out
questionnaires regarding personal, financial,
medications, past medical history and details of the sleep
problem. When you sleep, how long you sleep,
awakenings are among the questions that will be asked.
During this visit often you will watch a video describing
the sleep study process. You should take this
opportunity to discuss your sleep problem with the
physician and learn what to expect regarding testing,
results review and possible treatments.
Once this review is completed, the appropriate sleep
testing will be scheduled if needed.
What to expect when scheduled for a Home Sleep Apnea Study
Home sleep apnea studies are performed by the
individual in their home and not in the sleep center. At
the time of your daytime appointment, you will meet a
sleep technologist who will describe the process to you.
You will be instructed in how to put on the testing
equipment at bedtime, how to turn it on, what to do
when you awake during the night, how to turn it off and
when to return the unit.
What to expect the night of the sleep study at a facility (Polysomnogram)
Arriving at The Sleep Center
You will be asked to arrive at the sleep center at an
appointed time the night of your scheduled sleep study.
Usually there will be several individuals undergoing
testing on the same night. The appointment times are
designed to have all the persons being tested ready to
start the testing at bedtime. When you arrive at night,
each facility will have procedures to follow at the front
door for entry. Accredited testing facilities are usually
secure and safe.
The facility may be difficult to find in the dark. It is best
to locate it during daylight so that it will be easier to find
on your night of study.
What to Bring
Be prepared for the sleep technologist to ask for a list of
the medications you took that day. Bring your usual
bedtime medications, unless a physician has told you not
to take them for the sleep study. If you are not sure if you
should take your usual medications, contact your
physician or the facility. Bring all toiletries you may need
the night of the sleep study and the next morning. If you
would like to bring a snack, ask your facility. They might
have a refrigerator where the sleep technician can store
your food. If you were given paperwork to fill out before
your sleep study, bring it with you.
Your Sleeping Room
Sleep technologists will greet you and show you to your
bedroom. They will explain the steps you will be going
through during the night and allow you to get settled.
Each sleep technologist is responsible for two patients
each night. While there are multiple patient rooms, it is
unlikely you will see or be seen by any other patients
outside of the lobby area. Each testing room will have
similar beds, furnishings and decor.
The sleep technologist will monitor your test from the
control room and will only enter your bedroom when it
is necessary. The staff will view your test measurements
on computer monitors, your activities with an infrared
camera system, and your snoring and spoken words with
a voice monitor.
Clothing for Sleep
For your sleep study, you should wear comfortable sleep
clothing. Fabrics that are slick, such as satin or silk
should not be worn because they will make it difficult for
the belts to remain on your chest and abdomen.
Temperatures at sleep centers are usually cool. Cotton
shirt, pants, shorts, etc. are all appropriate.
Testing Your Sleep
The sleep test is designed to measure sleep stages,
breathing, body movements, heart function and oxygen
levels. Measuring all of these functions is done with
sensors that are placed on you. You may be the first
patient to be hooked up to the equipment or follow
someone else. This order is usually based on the time
you normally go to sleep. You can expect the sleep
technologist to spend between 30 and 45 minutes placing
the sensors. Once you are connected to the monitors, you
can go to sleep or read, watch TV, etc. until the test
begins. The test will begin as close to your normal
sleeping time as possible, but the center need to consider
the time needed to complete the test. A minimum of six
(6) hours of recording time is required.
The sleep technologist will explain the procedure of
connecting you to the recording equipment. There will
be wires pasted on your head, chin and legs. A small
sensor will be placed under your nose and heart
monitoring leads on your chest. You will be wearing belts
on your chest and abdomen. You will have a conducting
paste in your hair and on your face. This paste conducts
signals from your body to the monitors and gives us the
information to make the needed measurements.
Will you sleep?
Most people worry that they will not be able to sleep
during the test. Will I sleep long enough? Will it be good
enough sleep to get results? These worries are usually
unnecessary. The vast majority of patients sleep long
enough and well enough for the equipment to get
adequate information about their sleep.
If you are concerned and have trouble going to sleep,
before the day of the test speak with your physician or
the facility’s staff. It may be possible to be prescribed a
mild sleeping aid (pill) for you on the night of your test.
Problems During the night
If you have problems with the sensors, the temperature
of the bedroom, or if you just want to ask the sleep
technologist a question during the night, it is easy to
notify the technologist. You simply speak aloud and ask
your questions. The technicians will hear your request(s)
and respond appropriately and in a timely manner.
Getting to the bathroom
If you need to use the restroom during the night of your
sleep study, it is not a problem. Upon waking up and
realizing that you must use the restroom, you simply
need to speak aloud and say, “I need to use the
restroom.” The sleep technologist can hear you and will
come into the room. All the wires that will be attached to
you plug into one small box that the technologist will
unplug for you. You are then free to use the restroom
alone. When you are finished, the sleep technologist will
plug the box back in and you can return to sleep.
The sleep technologist will wake you and end the test the
next morning. It takes approximately 10 minutes for the
technologist to remove the electrodes. After this is
complete, you will be asked to answer some questions
about your night’s sleep. Then you are free to go. You will
have paste from monitors in your hair that will come out
with warm water and shampoo. Most facilities have a
shower available for you to use if you must get ready for
work at the facility. You should bring your own shampoo
and conditioner if you wish to shower there.
Problems with confusion, incontinence, and arthritis or
other disabilities can usually be accommodated. It is
very important to discuss these issues with the facility
before the day of the test so that arrangements can be
made for any change in staff or testing required.
A tremendous amount of information is gathered during
a polysomnogram. It is a significant task to review the
measurements and calculate the results. The data from
the test is usually ready for the sleep physician’s review
one or two business days following the test. The
physician who reviews the test will dictate a report of
their interpretation of your results. This dictation will be
typed for the sleep physician and the referring
physician(s). This process takes one to three days for
most physicians to complete. However, it is dependent
upon the physician’s time and availability.
It is best to not expect completed results from your
physician for at least five working days after your test.
Your facility will be able to give you an estimate of when
the results will be available and who will review the
results with you.
Updated June 2022