Sleep Studies FAQs

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General Questions

What is a sleep study?

Sleep studies help us find out if someone has a sleep disorder. While you sleep, we watch your:

  • Breathing
  • Leg and arm movements
  • Other movements

Watching how you sleep helps us find out if you have a sleep disorder.

Where does a sleep study take place?

Traditionally, sleep studies happen in the sleep lab. We still have you in the lab for complex cases.

Some studies can be done at home for less complicated issues, like obstructive sleep apnea.

Why do I need a sleep study?

Your primary care provider may recommend a sleep study if you have signs of a sleep disorder. Symptoms include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Snoring
  • Abnormal movement

How is the test done?

You will arrive at night for your study and meet with a sleep tech. They’ll give you an overview and get you set up.

You’ll have several different types of sensors and electrode leads applied. These connect to the monitoring equipment and help us measure your sleep, breathing, movements, and oxygen levels.

We’ll also video your sleep and the tech will watch you throughout the night. They’ll enter the room if you call or if they need to reattach sensors pulled loose. In the morning, when the test is over, your tech will remove all of the sensors.

Will I have my own room?

Each patient has a private room, bathroom and TV in the sleep center. 

How long does the test take?

Sleep studies typically last from 8:30 p.m. until 7 a.m.

Will any part of the sleep study hurt?

The sleep study should not hurt. If you do have pain or other concerns, the sleep tech can help. 

We also have sleep doctors on-call 24/7 for questions or medical concerns.

Can I have my sleep study done at home?

Some studies can happen at home.

If you need the study to diagnose sleep apnea and you don’t have any neurological conditions, we may be able to do your study at home. Talk to your provider.

If my child has a sleep study, can I stay with them?

A parent or guardian must stay with all patients under 18. We provide a place for the parent to sleep in the child’s room.

Does my sleep study room have Wi-Fi?

We have free Wi-Fi, which you can use during the in-lab sleep study.

Why do you video sleep studies? How is my privacy protected?

We take patient privacy very seriously. Our sleep center follows all rules outlined by UVA policy. We video sleep studies to follow the protocol set forth by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

As an AASM-accredited center, we follow these guidelines to ensure a high level of care for our patients. The video recording helps us score your sleep. Video helps us watch for abnormal movements that happen with various sleep disorders.

What kind of equipment is used?

We use the highest level of sleep study equipment. In some cases, we’ll use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)  to test for severe obstructive sleep apnea during part or all of the study.

Before the Sleep Study

What should I do to prepare for my sleep study?

We will see you in the sleep clinic to go over what to expect. We encourage you to ask any questions you have. You can even tour the sleep lab to feel more comfortable.

Limit or avoid caffeine in the afternoon before your sleep study.

What should I bring? Can I bring my own pillow?

Bring items that will help you sleep. If your own pillow and pajamas help, bring them.

Should I take my regular medications before the study?

Continue taking your regular medications unless your sleep provider tells you not to.  Do not take any sleep aids or sedatives before the sleep study.

Can I bring snacks?

If snacks help you get through the night, bring them.

During the Sleep Study

What if I can’t sleep during the sleep study?

If you can’t sleep, we may need to schedule another study.

Will I be woken up during the night?

Some sleep studies may wake you up. However, we do what we can to help you sleep the entire time.

If you have severe sleep apnea, we may put you on a CPAP machine in the middle of the night. This way, we can see if your sleep improves during the second half of the study.

What if I have to go to the bathroom during the study?

That is normal. The sleep tech will help you use the bathroom when you need to.  

After the Sleep Study

How long does it take to get my results?

We often process, score and analyze the study data within three weeks.

What happens next if I’m diagnosed with a sleep disorder?

Your sleep doctor will work with you on treatment options.

The CPAP machine is the most recommended treatment. However, other treatments exist. These include:

  • Healthy weight loss (if appropriate)
  • Side sleep position
  • Dental device
  • Nerve stimulator called Inspire

These options all treat obstructive sleep apnea.