Overnight Sleep Study

What to Expect from Your Stay

Before the Study

You and your Doctor have agreed that you may have a sleep disorder. The recommendation is that you have an overnight sleep study performed. Although your healthcare provider will usually send the forms necessary to schedule an appointment, please contact us to confirm and start the scheduling process. The study will require that you stay with us overnight and possibly the next day if needed.

When scheduling your sleep study, tell your coordinator about any prescribed or over-the-counter medications that you take. It is important that we know as some may have a significant impact on the way we interpret data on the study. You should take all medications as indicated. In some cases, you will need to gradually reduce medications in preparation for the sleep study, but no action should be taken without consent of your healthcare provider. If your provider has prescribed a sleep aid for the night of the study, it is essential that you let you technologist know when you arrive. Your appointment will be scheduled for either 9:15 pm or 9:30 pm.

When your coordinator calls to confirm your appointment, it is best to inquire what will be available the night of your sleep study. We usually have a variety of snacks, non-caffeinated beverages and breakfast items available for you. It is a good idea to have a very light snack before bed. You may also bring any specific snacks you require, keeping in mind that no caffeinated or “energy” type beverages should be consumed after 12 noon and until your study is complete.

The Day of the Study

On the day of the study, shower as you normally would but use only shampoo on your hair. Dry it thoroughly, but do not use any styling products as they can inhibit the proper positioning of the leads on your scalp.

Pack an overnight bag containing two-piece, loose-fitting bedclothes and all your normal toiletries for the next morning. Please understand that sleeping in lingerie or in the nude is not permitted during your stay at the center. A t-shirt and either shorts or lounging pants are usually best. If you usually sleep with multiple pillows or special blankets, feel free to bring them along. Having something familiar with you will help to relax you for a better experience.

Patients that have special assistance needs, such as a nurse or an aide, are responsible for bringing their own assistant on the night of the study. Our technologists are not permitted to lift and/or carry patients in the center. Your companion may sleep in the comfortable reclining chair in the room but not in the bed with you. This rule applies to parents accompanying their children for studies as well.

It is recommended that someone else drives you to/from your sleep study. You should not drive yourself if you will be taking any type of sleep aid during the study. You can discuss your pick-up time with the technologist on the night of the study. This is usually between 6:30 and 7:00 am.

Study Night

When you arrive at the center, the first thing you will notice is the comfortable, hotel-like surroundings. You will be greeted by your technologist who is responsible for performing the sleep study. This person is a well-trained sleep professional who has been handpicked for their patient skills. They will show you to your private bedroom where you will see the equipment being used for your study laid out on the bed. You will fill out some initial paperwork and be asked to change into your overnight clothes in the bathroom. Although the bedroom has a camera, the bathroom is completely private. You will also watch a short video explaining the study. Your technologist will return to your room and start the hookup process that begins with taking your vital signs and recording them.

A series of electrodes known as “leads” are attached to the skin on various parts of the head, face, and body. They do not puncture the skin and are carefully placed after measurements are taken. You are also fitted with a soft elastic chest belt for respiratory measurement as well as a fingertip clip that measures pulse and blood oxygenation. All of this data runs into computers in the technologist’s room. The technologist will perform a test on the equipment before “lights out” time. This will ensure it is working properly before you go to sleep.

Your technologist may fit you with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask depending on the type of study your doctor has ordered for you. The masks are made of a soft silicone and fit over your nose and/or mouth. If you meet specific criteria set be your doctor during the study, CPAP will be introduced. This will provide you with constant airflow to hold the airway open, allowing you to breathe uninterrupted throughout the night.

Most people don’t sleep with leads and wires attached to their body nor are they observed by a video camera during sleep. It will be a strange sensation at first, but you will adjust after a short while. Discuss your normal sleeping positions and your technologist will work with you to make you as comfortable as possible and give you room to turn and move while still having leads properly positioned. Your technologist will gather all the wires together into a “ponytail” of sorts to feed into a central wire hub that sends the readings to the technologist’s computer. After all of the equipment and leads are placed, you may have some free time to relax before going to bed.

You may read or watch TV until “lights out” timed around 11:00 pm. When you scheduled your sleep study, please let the coordinator know your normal bedtime so you are given an arrival time best suited to you.

You may sleep in whatever position you normally do at home. At some point, you will need to sleep on your back in a “supine” position. If you don’t usually sleep in this position, the technologist may have to come in the room to ask you to roll on your back for part of the night. If you need to use the bathroom during the night, please alert your technologist by intercom and they will disconnect you from the bedside unit and reconnect you with minimal disturbance of the leads. In the morning, you will fill out some additional paperwork and get ready to face your day.

Daytime Studies

If you are scheduled for a daytime MSLT or MWT study following your overnight study, breakfast and lunch arrangements will be provided. An MSLT (multiple sleep latency test) is performed during a series of naps throughout the day. It measures the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and REM cycles, if any. An MWT (maintenance of wakefulness test) is similar but performed to see how long it takes you to fall asleep under certain controlled conditions. These tests are performed with many of the same leads that were used during the overnight sleep study. If these types of studies are scheduled, make sure that you take appropriate time off from work or social obligations to accommodate a full day of availability.

Final Words

This is a general overview of what you will experience during your stay at Raritan Bay Medical Center-Center for Sleep Medicine. If you find you have specific questions or concerns about a study you are scheduling or have already scheduled, please feel free to contact the center. We are here to assist you and make this process as worry-free as possible. Helping you to get better sleep is our business.

The Key to Good Health is Good Sleep.