Sleep Study

What is a sleep study?

A sleep study is a test that measures how well you sleep and checks for sleep problems. For some sleep studies, you stay overnight in a sleep lab at a hospital or sleep center.

In other cases, your doctor can give you a portable sleep monitor to use at home, so you don’t have to spend the night in the sleep lab. But you should use a portable monitor only if:

  • Your doctor thinks you have a condition that makes you stop breathing for short periods while you are asleep, called sleep apnea.
  • You do not have other serious medical problems, such as heart disease or lung disease.

What happens during a sleep study?

Before you go to sleep, a technician attaches small, sticky patches called electrodes to your head, chest, and legs. He or she will also place a small tube beneath your nose and might wrap 1 or 2 belts around your chest.

Each of these items has wires that connect to monitors. The monitors record your movement, brain activity, breathing, and other body functions while you sleep.

If you have a history of trouble falling asleep, your doctor might prescribe a medicine to help you fall asleep in the lab. If you have never taken the medicine before, your doctor might ask you take it on a night before your sleep study to see how it affects you.

Why might my doctor order a sleep study?

Your doctor will order a sleep study if he or she thinks you have sleep apnea or a different condition that makes you:

  • Have sudden jerking leg movements while you sleep, called periodic limb movements.
  • Feel very sleepy during the day and fall asleep all of a sudden, called narcolepsy.
  • Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep over a long period of time, called chronic insomnia.”
  • Do odd things while you sleep, such as walking.

How should I prepare for a sleep study?

On the day of your sleep study, you should:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid drinking coffee, tea, sodas, and other drinks that have caffeine in the afternoon and evening
  • Take all of your regular medicines

Additional Reference Material

American Sleep Apnea Association

American Sleep Association

Support Groups

Daily Strength