Sleep study: What to expect

For the sleep study, you will spend the night at a sleep center. Special electrodes and sensors will be placed on your head, face, chest, legs and finger. A video camera will record you sleeping.

The study has little to no discomfort, and it will last for at least six hours.

Sometimes additional testing may be needed, and you will be asked to stay for more testing during the next day. Please make arrangements should you need to stay.

  • Arrive at the Sleep Center at the scheduled time in the evening.
  • A technologist will give you a brief tour and take you to your room. Your room will have a television set. A telephone will be available for your use.
  • The technologist will tell you about the sleep study and explain what the equipment will do.
  • You will have some paperwork to fill out.
  • The technologist will answer any questions you have.
  • He or she will talk with you about a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This machine helps you breathe while you sleep. You may try a CPAP machine during your study.
  • You may eat your snack, if needed.
  • You will change into your pajamas or sleeping clothes.
  • The technologist will attach the electrodes to your skin, the sensors to your chest and abdomen, and the probe to your finger.
  • You can watch TV, read or get comfortable in bed, but stay awake until the sleep study starts.
  • The study will start between 9 to 11 p.m. (or as arranged with the Sleep Center).
  • If you need anything during the night, speak normally out loud and the technologist will help you.
  • If the technologist discovers a breathing problem during the test, he or she will wake you and set up a CPAP machine. A mask fits over your nose and/or mouth. A steady flow of air from the machine enters your nose and mouth to keep your airway open while you sleep.
  • If the technologist needs to adjust or fix sensors or electrodes, he or she may wake you up.
  • You will be able to sleep until enough information has been recorded. Your doctor needs at least six hours of recorded information for the test to be completed.
  • The technologist will remove the electrodes, sensors and probe.
  • You will be able to take a shower and wash your hair.
  • Gather your belongings (including your pillow and blanket) to take home with you.
  • You may leave if no other tests are needed.

Sleep study results

If you have sleep apnea and testing indicates that a CPAP machine could help control it, the sleep technologist will talk with you about your option of having a machine ordered for you to use at home.

  • A doctor at the Sleep Center will interpret your study results.
  • You will have a follow-up appointment with your regular doctor or the Sleep Center doctor. He or she will talk with you about the results, your therapy options and answer any questions or concerns you have.
  • Your sleep study results will take some time to read. Please do not call your doctor for results before your follow-up appointment.

If you have any general questions, call your doctor.

Allina Health Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment

woman sits up in bed and glares and snoring husband who needs sleep apnea treatment

If you need a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to help you sleep well, we'll not only deliver the equipment you need, we'll show you how to use and maintain it.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Polysomnography (Sleep study), neuro-ahc-23688
Reviewed By: Michael Schmitz, PsyD, LP, CBSM, and Andrew Stiehm, MD, Allina Health
First Published: 04/01/2006
Last Reviewed: 03/22/2016