What Can I Expect from a Sleep Study?

“Sleep Study” Maybe those words make you think of a large, sterile room with a window on one side for people to watch you, or beeping machines and people coming and going all day and night. None of this would be very relaxing, which conflicts with the whole purpose of the sleep study.

Sleep labs are more like hotels: simple, pleasant rooms that are suited for great sleeping.

When you arrive, technicians will attach the electrodes to your head, face, chest, arms, and legs as comfortably as possible. While some people do go to bed as soon as the sensors are attached, others need to wind down with a book or music. The goal is to be as relaxed as possible in order to sleep like you do at home.

If the study is successful, there will be several hundred pages of detailed sensor data for the sleep doctor to review.


Can’t I Do This At Home?

Still not sold on going to a sleep lab?  Your doctor may be able to provide you a home sleep test kit. The kit contains items that are similar to what you wear at a sleep lab, though a little simpler:

  • Testing and recording device: A small box that records information about your sleep and breathing patterns. There are thin wires that attach all of the parts to one another.
  • Breathing resistance belt(s): Worn securely around your chest and sometimes at your waist, these belts have sensors that detect your breath movements A sensor lead attaches the belts to the recording device.
  • Nasal cannula: This is worn at your nose, and connects to the device, which records both inhalation and exhalations.
  • Pulse oximeter: Placed on your finger and attached to the recording device, the pulse oximeter detects the level of oxygen in your blood.


What Happens Next?

Depending on the brand of home sleep study kit your sleep physician gives you, you may need to either keep a sleep diary or press a button on the testing device when you go to sleep and when you wake up.  You may even need two nights to complete the study. Once it’s done, you’ll need to take the device back to your sleep doctor for analysis.

At home sleep study kits are especially useful for people with kids, or who have difficulty sleeping away from their usual environment. You should have no problem going to sleep with it on.  Once the doctor reviews the data from the testing device, two things could happen:

  1. The doctor diagnoses obstructive sleep apnea and writes a prescription for your oral sleep appliance, C-Pap, Bi-Pap, or ASV as appropriate.
  2. The doctor requests for you to have an additional study done at a sleep lab because the home test was not able to provide enough data.

Whether you have your study done at a lab or at home, it is a critical step toward diagnosing your sleep apnea and getting the help you need.  Find out more about sleep apnea therapy options in our next post!