Your doctor ordered a sleep study. But what all is involved? What are the logistics you will need to know about? I’ll cover how to prepare for a sleep study, what questions to ask ahead of time, what to expect in a sleep study, and what you should bring along and pack for the night. Spoiler alert – it’s not as bad as you think!
While all of my health hacks have helped to keep my chronic fatigue in check, my primary doctor suggested that I see a sleep specialist to rule out sleep apnea, or any other sleep abnormalities. Ok cool. But when he scheduled my actual sleep study, there was zero information that went along with the appointment. Nothing on their website and no information passed along to me.
How to Prepare for a Sleep Study
How do I prepare for a sleep study?
What all is involved in a sleep study? What should I expect?
What questions do I need to ask ahead of time?
What information do I need to know?
What do I need to bring and what should I pack for my sleep study?
And most importantly… can I go to the bathroom during the sleep study? Oy vey.
I looked online and found a lot of articles about the science behind the sleep study and how it works. But nothing that helped me with my own personal logistics. And you know… I’m a logistics girl. I need to have a plan! If you are in the same boat, do not worry. I’ve got you covered!
But first, let me tell you about my initial appointment.
My doctor went from zero to sleep apnea. I don’t snore, and Hubby Carter said that he never noticed me not breathing. I’m not a sleep doctor, but I found it odd that I was not asked about:
- What is your evening schedule and routine?
- Do you sleep with a snorer?
- Do you and your bed partner keep different schedules?
- Do you sleep with a pet?
- What is the light situation in your bedroom?
- Do you keep your phone on?
- How old is your mattress?
- What is the temperature of your bedroom?
- Do you drink caffeine after noon time?
I mean, I’m the queen of sleep hacks. Our bedroom is dialed in for optimal sleep. But what if I wasn’t? Call me crazy, but wouldn’t it make sense to inquire about my sleep hygiene and schedule prior to assuming I need to undergo a sleep study? But hey… what do I know?
On to the fun and games…
Questions to Ask Before and During a Sleep Study
Make a list and ask your doctor or nurse these questions ahead of time. Come up with your own as well, depending on your lifestyle and situation.
- Does insurance cover this?
- Is a home sleep study available and what is the difference?
- What is the bathroom situation like? Do I have my own private bathroom in my room? Do I have to walk in a hallway? Do I share it with others?
- What happens if I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night?
- Can I bring my own pillow and blanket?
- These are the medications I normally take. Is it ok to take them as prescribed? What about evening or morning meds?
- If you normally take a sleeping pill, ask if you can take it the night of the study.
- What time will I actually be falling asleep?
- What is the morning like? How do the morning logistics work?
What to Pack for a Sleep Study
I tried to be as complete as possible based on what I needed, brought on my own, and didn’t bring but should have! By all means, you don’t need to pack everything in this list. It’s just to help you think about what you need to pack and bring to make your night as comfortable and efficient as possible.
- Nighttime and morning medicines and supplements.
- A book to read
- Your phone and cord
- Pillow and/or blanket
- Blue light blocker glasses
- PJs – pack both warm and cool temp PJs to adjust for the temperature in your room
- Socks and/or slippers
- Lavender spray (if you normally spray your sheets) – ask your tech if you can use it
- Water bottle
- Toiletries – Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, etc
- Clothes for the next morning
- Makeup remover wipes to remove the electrode goop
- Overnight bag to pack everything
- DON’T pack any valuables. You may or may not be able to lock your room. It’s not like there will be a lot of people there, and I’m sure everyone is honest and trustworthy, but better safe than sorry.
- Your patience (more on that in a minute)
What to Expect During Your Sleep Study
All clinics are different, but here are some basics that should be considered.
There will be others who are conducting the sleep study with you. Not in the same room, of course, but in adjacent rooms. Be respectful with the noise level when you are speaking with your technician and if you watch TV.
When you arrive, sit in your room for several minutes and determine the temperature and what you will wear to sleep. Once you are in your PJs and are hooked up, you won’t be able to add or remove clothing. It’s easier to dress with less and add blankets if you get cold.
There will probably be just one tech to take care of everyone overnight. Have patience as everyone gets hooked up to sleep.
I was the first one to get hooked up, and still waited 45 minutes before everything was ready.
MAKE SURE YOU GO TO THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOU GET HOOKED UP! And don’t be embarrassed if you want to go one last time before you go to sleep.
It took at least 15 minutes, if not more, to get everything hooked up. I had electrodes on each of my legs, on my chest, all over my head, my face, and my jaw. I had two heart rate monitors around my chest. I had two things in my nose to monitor breathing. Plus a pulse oximeter on my finger.
The tech will perform a check to ensure everything is hooked up and working properly.
There will probably be a camera in your room so the tech can monitor you during the night.
There is an intercom if you need assistance during the night.
Ask about the logistics if you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Basically, all of my wires were hooked up to one central zone, and then that zone hooked into the equipment. The tech quickly unhooked me from the zone, and I carried what I called a “purse of wires” to the bathroom with me. Don’t be embarrassed or feel you are bothering the tech. That is part of their job duty!
I have my little night time rituals – lavender spray, hand and foot cream, sleepy feet Essential Oils roller, blue light blocker glasses, and earplugs. Not all of this was conducive to lots of prep and wires. Try to minimize your ritual as much as possible to the bare bone basics. Bring your comforts, but remember, it’s just one night.
The entire process is awkward and uncomfortable, but it was surprisingly easy to quickly fall asleep. I was even able to turn to my side without any effort. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep in the world, but I was surprised that I did get a decent night of sleep.
My tech did everything he could to make me as comfortable as possible. I hope yours is as great as he was!
It will take several days or even several weeks for your doctor to get the results and review them with you.
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Tips and Tricks
While still at home, brush your teeth and remove your makeup so you don’t have to worry about this once you are there. Trust me, the tech won’t care if you don’t have makeup on.
If you straighten your hair or don’t wash it every day, plan your sleep study for the night before you are going to wash it. There will be sticky goop leftover on your head from the electrodes.
You will definitely want to bring along your favorite makeup remover wipes to remove the electrode goop on your face and chest.
You may or may not sleep well. If you struggle with fatigue or think you might be tired, plan your sleep study so that the next day you don’t have much going on. If you work a full-time job, you may want to schedule it for a Friday night, plan to take the day off, or even go in half a day. Plan an easy dinner, crockpot, or leftovers for the next day and have everything prepped the night before.
Make sure you have child care or pet care arrangements planned and an alternate just in case.
Remove nail polish from your index fingers. You will be wearing a pulse oximeter.
Ensure all of your paperwork is filled out ahead of time.
Let them know ahead of time if you have any special needs.
Try not to take a nap the day of the sleep study. You want to go in nice and tired.
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Love, hugs, and glad to be back in my own bed.
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