On the day of your sleep study, avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate) after 12:00 p.m. and try not to nap. Avoid alcohol unless otherwise directed by your sleep specialist. Before coming to the sleep center, wash your hair with shampoo only, dry your hair and do not apply hair sprays, oils or gels.
Before coming to the center, you should pack an overnight bag, as you would for an overnight stay at a hotel or a friend’s house. You may wish to include your own pillow and extra clothing. Bring your medications if you will need them in the time you are away from home. If you have special needs, advise the sleep center personnel so they can accommodate you.
When you arrive at the center – usually between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. – the technician will greet you and show you your bedroom. You will be shown the equipment that will be used and given a chance to ask questions. You should inform the technician of any changes in your sleep or specific difficulties you have not already discussed with your healthcare professional. There may be some paperwork for you to complete.
You will have time to change into nightclothes and get ready for bed as you do at home. There may be a waiting period before the technician starts getting you ready for the sleep study, and you can relax during this time. If you have a commitment in the morning (if, for example, you have to be at work at a certain time), be sure to inform the sleep technician prior to your study so your wake-up time can be confirmed.
Next, approximately two dozen sensors which are generally small metal discs (called electrodes) are applied to the skin of your head and body using an adhesive. These sensors monitor the activities that go on in your body during sleep. These activities include brain waves, muscle movements, eye movements, breathing through your mouth and nose, snoring, heart rate, and leg movements. Flexible elastic belts around your chest and abdomen measure your breathing. A clip on your finger or earlobe monitors the level of oxygen in your blood and your heart rate. None of these devices are painful and all are designed to be as comfortable as possible. The electrodes may feel strange on your skin at first, but most people do not find them uncomfortable or an obstacle to falling asleep. The sleep specialist recognizes that your sleep in the center may not be exactly like your sleep at home. This usually does not interfere with obtaining the necessary information from your sleep study in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
If you have questions or concerns about the application of the electrodes (if, for example, you use a hearing aid, wear a hairpiece or are sensitive to certain chemicals), contact your doctor or speak with the technician before you arrive at the center.