Sleep Study Frequently Asked Questions

A sleep study, known as a polysomnogram, is an overnight test in which a number of bodily activities are simultaneously recorded during sleep to help determine the cause of a sleeping problem.

How is the test conducted?
Prior to the study, a sleep technologist will place sensors on your scalp, face, chest and legs. These sensors will record brainwave activity (to assess sleep stage), eye movements, muscle activity, heart rhythm, body movements, nasal/oral airflow, respiratory effort and oxygenation. In addition, your body position will be observed on video camera.  

The sensors are attached to your body in a manner similar to electrocardiogram (EKG) electrodes and are not painful. In rare instances, some people with sensitive skin develop local irritation at the electrode sites. If you have experienced skin irritation due to EKG testing in the past, please notify the Sleep Center and the technologist prior to the study.  

How long does the test take?
The hookup procedure starts shortly after the scheduled appointment time (between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.) and will take roughly 30 to 45 minutes. Your study is performed in a private room equipped with a television, DVD/VCR, and a private bathroom and shower. The testing procedure typically starts between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and will continue until about 6 a.m. The technologist will be located in the monitoring room in the hallway next to the bedroom throughout the night.

Although you are not expected to go to sleep at a specific time, you will be encouraged to fall asleep as soon as possible to maximize the amount of sleep time during which you can be observed. Patients needing to use the bathroom during the study need only to notify the technologist. He or she will unhook one or two central connections, which will enable you to get up and walk to the bathroom.

Does the test hurt?
The test is non-invasive and not painful. The sleep lab environment is dark and quiet, and conducive for sleeping. However, the presence of the wires and electrodes occasionally affect the sleep of some patients. If you are concerned about your ability to fall asleep during the testing procedure, we suggest that you deprive yourself of some sleep the night before the test by waking up earlier than usual.  

Can I bring my own pillow?
Bringing items such as your own pillow may make you more comfortable and may facilitate getting more restful sleep.  Please do not bring pagers or cell phones, as these items may interfere with hospital telemetry equipment, disrupt the sleep study and affect your test results. If you must have these devices with you, please make sure they are turned off during testing. A refrigerator is available and you are welcome to bring a bedtime snack. Caffeine-free sodas, juices and crackers are available upon request.  

How is my privacy protected?
Sleep studies routinely include a digitally recorded video that enables the Sleep Center physician to visually observe sleep position, movements, respiration and other sleep-related information. We are required to have your written consent to perform the sleep study and to record the video. This data is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which established national standards for the security and privacy of health data.

How do I get the results of my study?
A Sleep Center physician will review the sleep recording in conjunction with your clinical history in order to arrive at a diagnosis. The technologist cannot discuss any results with the patient. Once the Sleep Center physician reviews and interprets the study, a final report will be forwarded to your doctor within a week. Please follow up with your physician after the study. If you and your doctor would like you to have a consultation with one of the doctors at the Sleep Center, please contact our office at 609.497.4040 to schedule an appointment. For more information, call 609.853.7520.