Sleep Disorders
All About Sleep Disorders
Who is Affected By Sleep Disorders
Who Treats Sleep Disorders
What Happens At A Sleep Lab
Types of Sleep Disorders
Sleep Apnea
What is Sleep Apnea
What Causes Sleep Apnea
Treating Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea in Children
What is Insomnia
What Causes Insomnia
Treating Insomnia
Sleep Walking
What is Sleep Walking
What Causes Sleep Walking
Treating Sleep Waking
Hypersomnia: Daytime Sleepiness
What is Hypersomnia
What Causes Hypersomnia
Treating Hypersomnia
Sleep Paralysis
What is Sleep Paralysis
What Causes Sleep Paralysis
Treating Sleep Paralysis
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
What is REM Sleep
What Causes REM Sleep
Treating REM Sleep
What is Narcolepsy
What Causes Narcolepsy
Treating Narcolepsy
Restless Leg Syndrome
What is Restless Leg Syndrome
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome
Treating Restless Leg Syndrome
What are Nightmares
What Causes Nightmares
Treating Nightmares
What is Snoring
What Causes Snoring
Treating Snoring
Sleep Deprivation
What is Sleep Deprivation
What Causes Sleep Deprivation
Treating Sleep Deprivation
Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
What are Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
What Causes Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
Treating Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
Dentistry and Sleep Disorders
Dentists’ Role in Managing Sleep Disorders
Dental Treatments for Sleep Disorders
Advantages of Dental Treatments
Site Map

What Happens at a Sleep Lab



If your doctor or sleep physician thinks it will benefit you, and give a clearer understanding of your sleep disorder, they will likely refer you to a sleep laboratory so that a sleep technician can study you while you sleep. The sleep lab you go to will depend on the type of insurance that you have. Ask your sleep specialist and the staff at the sleep lab for help in verifying your insurance coverage for sleep disorder and sleep disorder related testing and treatments.

Here you will find some general advice and guidelines, but always be sure to follow the exact recommendations of your doctor, sleep physicians, and sleep laboratory staff, as they are aware of your specific sleep disorder symptoms as well as the protocols of your sleep laboratory. When you make your appointment at the sleep lab they will give you a lot of information; write things down and be sure to ask questions if you are unsure. The more you understand the instructions given, the better your experience and the more accurate the results of your sleep study will be.

This is a list of general guidelines for the day of your sleep study.

  1. Don't consume caffeine or alcohol.
  2. Don't take a nap during the day.
  3. Eat a normal dinner before the procedure.
  4. Shower and wash your hair thoroughly. After the shower be sure you do not use hair products and do not apply oils or lotions to your skin.
  5. Pack comfortable clothing/pajamas, a pillow if you desire, any medication you normally take before bedtime, and a snack if you wish. Most sleep centers do not provide food so you might want to bring a little something to eat in the morning when you wake up too.

When you arrive at the sleep lab you will go through a check-in process. The sleep technician will show you to your sleep room and you will probably have some down-time; you can relax, watch television or read a book or magazine.

When you have changed into your night clothes the sleep technician will apply some electrodes to your head. There will probably be other electrodes or small devices attached to chest, waist, and finger tip. None of the devices are painful and they should not interfere with sleeping. There will be wires coming from the electrodes, but the sleep technician should have a system in place to bundle the wires so that you can move about comfortably while you sleep, without disrupting your sleep test.

The sleep test is technically called a polysomnogram  and it collects massive amounts of data (hence all the electrodes) about your brain waves, muscle movements, breathing, heart rate, and snoring. All of these things are measured throughout the time you spend sleeping. In the morning you will be sent home and the sleep technician will process the data gathered during the sleep analysis. Due to the incredible volume of data gathered by the polysomnogram during the sleep study, the results may take several days or more to tabulate. You will be instructed by the sleep lab, sleep technician, or sleep specialist as to the follow-up procedure and how to go about obtaining your sleep study results. 

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