What Happens When You Get a Sleep Study?

Patient Expert

If you are dealing with insomnia and you don’t know why, your doctor may schedule you in for a sleep study.** Preparing for a sleep study**

Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening of the sleep study. You should also avoid alcohol. Both can interfere with your results.

Pack sleepwear that is comfortable, as well as a change of clothing for the following morning. If you are a reader, bring along a book. You may also want to bring your own bed pillow. Additionally, bring along any medications you need. You and your physician will have discussed your medications prior to the sleep study and you will know which ones you can safely take during the study.

If you have any special needs, let the staff at the sleep center know about them ahead of time.

Arriving at the sleep study center

When you arrive at the sleep center and are checked in, you will be taken to your sleeping area. Many people liken it to a hotel room. You will be given time to change into your nightclothes and to settle into your room. You can go about doing the things you may normally do before bed such as reading, watching television, or listening to music.

Getting hooked up and sleeping

At some point a staff member will come into the room and apply around two dozen electrodes to your skin. Wires will run from the electrodes and attach to a computer, yet they are long enough for you to be able to move around in bed.

Elastic belts will also be applied to your abdomen and chest. These measure breathing. A clip may be applied to your earlobe or one of your fingers. This clip measures your heart rate and oxygen levels.

None of these devices are painful to wear and they are designed to not hinder sleep.

Once everything has been applied, you will be asked to do things that test that the sensors are working correctly such as moving your legs, eyes, or gritting your teeth.

After the monitors have been all hooked up and tested, you are free to go back to watching television or reading until your bedtime. When bedtime arrives, the lights are turned out.

You may be wondering if you will be able to sleep. Have no fear. The rooms are nice and comfortable and most people have no issues falling asleep. The staff is well aware that you will not sleep as well as you do at home. However, that does not hinder the study results.

If you awaken and need to go to the bathroom, simply speak up and say so. This is a common request. A technician will come in, unhook you from the system, and hook you back up after you return from the restroom.

What happens after a sleep studyWhen your sleep study is complete, all sensors will be removed from your skin and you will be free to go home. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment with you to discuss the findings of the study. Keep in mind that it can take** two to three weeks** before you learn about the findings.

A sleep study produces upwards of 1,000 pages of information that must be viewed. Once the doctor discovers what kind of sleep problem you have the results will be discussed with you, as well as a plan of action to correct it.


Martin is the creator of Insomnia Land’s free insomnia sleep training course. His course will teach you how to beat insomnia without sleeping pills. Over 3,000 insomniacs have completed his course and 96 percent of graduates say they would recommend it to a friend.